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Capgemini Looks to Accelerate Process Transformation with the "Frictionless Enterprise"


The value of automation using tools such as RPA, and more recently intelligent automation, has been accepted for years. However, there is still a danger in many automation projects that while each project is valuable in its own right, they become disconnected islands of automation with limited connectivity and lifespans. Accordingly, while elements of process friction have been removed, the overall end-to-end process can remain anything but friction-free.

Capgemini has developed the "Frictionless Enterprise" approach in response to this challenge, an approach the company is now applying across all Capgemini’s Business Services accounts.

What is the Frictionless Enterprise?

The Frictionless Enterprise is essentially a framework and set of principles for achieving end-to-end digital transformation of processes. The aim is to minimize friction in processes for all participants, including customers, suppliers, and employees across the entire value chain of a process.

However, most organizations today are far from frictionless. In most organizations, the processes were designed years ago, before AI achieved its current maturity level. Similarly, teams were traditionally designed to break people up into manageable groups organized by silo rather than by focusing on the horizontal operation they are there to deliver. Consequently, automation is often currently being used to address pain points in small process elements rather than transform the end-to-end process.

The Frictionless Enterprise approach requires organizations to be more radical in their process reengineering mindsets by addressing whole process transformation and by designing processes optimized for current and emerging technology.

Capgemini’s Business Services uses this approach to assist enterprises in end-to-end transformation from conception and design through to implementation and operation, with the engine room of Capgemini Business Services now focused on technology, rather than people, for transaction processing.

A change in mindset is critical for this to succeed. Capgemini is increasingly encouraging its clients to move from customer-supplier relationships to partnerships around shared KPIs and adopt dedicated innovation offices.

The five fundamentals of the Frictionless Enterprise

Capgemini views the Frictionless Enterprise as depending on five fundamentals: hyperscale automation, cloud agility, data fluidity, sustainable planet, and secure business.

Hyperscale automation

This ultimately means the ability to reach full touchless automation. Hyperscale automation depends on exploiting artificial intelligence and building a scalable and flexible architecture based on microservices and APIs.

Cloud agility

While the frictionless transformation approach is designed to work at the sub-process level and the overall process level, it is important that any sub-process changes are a compatible part of the overall journey.

Cloud agility emphasizes improving the process in ways that can be reused in conjunction with future process changes as part of an overall transformation. So any changes made to sub-processes addressing immediate pain points should be steps on the journey towards the final target end-to-end operating model rather than temporary throwaway fixes.

Accordingly, Capgemini aims to bring the client the tools, solutions, and skills that are compatible with the final target transformation. For example, tools must be ready to scale, and at present, API-based architectures are regarded as the best way to implement cloud-native integration. This has meant a change in emphasis in the selection and nature of relationships with partners. Capgemini now spends much more time than it used to with vendors, and Capgemini’s Business Services has a global sales officer with a mandate to work with partners. In addition, this effort is now much more focused, with Capgemini concentrating its efforts on a limited set of strategic partners. All the solutions chosen are API native, fully able to scale, AI at the core, and cloud-based. One example of a Capgemini partner is Kryon in RPA, since it can record processes as well as automate them.

Data fluidity

It's important within process transformations to use both internal and external data, such as IoT and edge data, efficiently and have a single version of the truth that is widely accessible. Accordingly, data lakes are a key foundational component in frictionless transformations.

However, while most enterprises have lots of data to leverage, they also have lots of data points that need to be fixed. Master data management is critical to successful transformation and remains an important part of transformed operations.

Digital twins are key to removing process friction and are used as the interface between how the business currently operates and how it needs to operate in the future. As well as providing an accurate view of the reality of current process execution, process mining also speeds up process transformation, enabling transformation consultants to focus on evaluation and prioritization of opportunities for change rather than collecting process data. Process mining can also help with maintaining best practice compliance post-transformation by monitoring how individual agents are using their systems, with the potential to guide them through proactive online training and removing the need to compensate for agent inefficiencies with automation.

Sustainable planet

It's also becoming extremely important when reviewing end-to-end processes to consider their impact on the planet across the whole value chain, including suppliers. For example, this covers both carbon impact and social aspects such as diversity, including ensuring a lack of bias in AI models. Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in financial reporting, and in response, Capgemini has added sustainability into its integrated architecture framework.

Secure business

Enterprises cannot undertake massive transformations unless they are guaranteed to be secure, and so the Frictionless Enterprise approach encompasses account security operations and cybersecurity compliance. Similarly, change management is of overwhelming importance within any transformation project, and the Frictionless Enterprise approach focuses on building trust and transparency with customers and partners to facilitate the transformation of the value chain.

A client example of Frictionless Enterprise adoption

Capgemini is helping a CPG company to apply the Frictionless Enterprise approach to its sales & distribution planning. The company was already upper quartile at each of the individual process elements such as supply planning and distribution planning in isolation, but the overall performance of its end-to-end planning process was inadequate. Accordingly, the company looked to improve its overall inventory and sales KPIs dramatically by reengineering its end-to-end order forecasting process. For example, improved prediction would help achieve more filled trucks, and improved inventory management has a direct impact on sustainability and levels of CO2 production.

The CPG company undertook planning quarterly, centrally forecasting orders. However, half of these central forecasts were subsequently changed by the company's local planners, firstly because the local planners had more detailed account information and did not believe the centrally generated forecasts, and secondly because quarterly forecasts were unable to keep up with day-to-day account developments.

So there was a big disconnect between the plan and the reality. To address this, Capgemini undertook a process redesign and proposed daily planning, entailing:

  • Planning overnight daily with machine learning used to forecast orders based on the levels of actual orders up until that point
  • Removing local planners' ability to change order forecasts but making them responsible for improving the quality of the master data underpinning the automated forecasts, such as identifying the correct warehouse used to deliver to a particular customer.

This process redesign involved comprehensive automation of the value chain and the use of a data lake built on Azure as the source of data for all predictions.

Capgemini has now been awarded a 5-year contract with a contractual goal of completing the transformation in three years.

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