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If our processes can become more predictive, agile and collaborative, we can increase our business productivity

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Making our organizations as smart as our people
Only 3% of companies believe they have achieved "process excellence." But many businesses are getting smarter about how they work. Here's what they're doing.

 

A series of conversations for a smarter planet.. Making our organizations as smart as our people.

You probably work a lot smarter today than you did twenty years ago, or ten years ago—or even last year. The Internet and wireless revolutions continue to transform the way individuals create, use and share information; the way we build and maintain relationships; the way we make decisions.

So why does it feel like we are working so much harder?

Unfortunately, the best work in many companies often happens despite our processes and structures, rather than because of them. Individuals and teams today are ready to collaborate, multitask and cocreate—and yet, every week, businesses waste 5.3 hours per employee because of inefficient processes. A full two-thirds of employees believe there are colleagues who can help them do their jobs better, but they don't know how to find them—and 42% of people say they are forced to make decisions with the wrong information at least once a week. It's no wonder that 91% of CEOs surveyed say they need to restructure the way their organizations work.

To work smarter, we'll need smarter organizations—enhancing and benefiting from their people's expertise, enterprise and creativity, rather than inhibiting them. Transforming the collaborative infrastructure and processes of our places of work will enable people to take advantage of the full scope of an instrumented, interconnected and intelligent planet. And the good news is that many organizations around the world are showing the way.

Some are re-architecting their operations around the ability to capture real-time data. For instance, planners for Danone, the world's leading maker of fresh dairy products, can adjust their production process continually—and implement changes in hours that used to take days. Insurance firm Celina uses collaboration tools to connect its independent agents and underwriters, helping them to reduce policy turnaround time from weeks to days. And Hannover Medical School in Germany uses mobile and wireless technology to gather and record trauma patients' data in real time throughout their hospital stay, enabling its system to communicate, "Patient X is waiting for doctor Y in room Z."

Some are working and collaborating in new ways across ecosystems, supply chains and their own internal silos. Using in-car wireless telemetry, auto-leasing services provider UBench International helps cars alert drivers to scheduled maintenance checks and directs them to a community of service providers. Moosejaw Mountaineering's social networking approach has increased its online customer conversion rate by 50%. The Salvation Army's Web-based collaboration infrastructure across 118 countries connects volunteers, supplies and relief coordination activities.

And some organizations are changing where and how decisions are made, and are including input from employees, partners and customers. Motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson has tapped the on-the-road insights of the worldwide Harley Owners Group to shape its processes and product development. And IBM reached out to clients, partners, employees and their families—more than 150,000 people from 70 organizations—in 2006's InnovationJam. They generated 46,000 ideas, and so far we've invested $70 million in ten of them—generating revenues close to $300 million over the past two years.

Organizations around the world are transforming themselves, not only to manage their processes more efficiently, but also to help their people work smarter, instead of just harder. Indeed, in a world of smarter work, we may finally be able to make our organizations as agile, as collaborative and as creative as the people within them.

Let's build a smarter planet.




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