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Build intelligent workflows for digital transformation


6 min read

Why do I need intelligent workflows?

80% of decision makers agree: integrating processes across organizational boundaries and legacy systems will accelerate digital transformation.1

In this paper, we’ll demonstrate how intelligent workflows can help you unlock value in five key business functions—supply chain, connected operations, customer innovation, financial management and planning, and talent management. All intelligent workflows, regardless of which function they serve, are powered by a combination of data enabled on hybrid multicloud infrastructure, exponential technologies and employee expertise. By unlocking greater visibility, real-time insights and the power to remediate problems across multiple business functions, intelligent workflows transform the very nature of work to deliver exponential outcomes for your business.

The transformative power of intelligent workflows can help you drive the following changes in your business:

  • Evolve siloed, static processes into integrated, transparent, end-to-end workflows
  • Move from predictions based on outdated data to actions based on real-time insight
  • Go beyond automation of standardized processes to orchestration and augmentation of variable tasks
  • Replace repetitive, mundane tasks with higher-value, knowledge-based work

Learn more about intelligent workflows for your business processes.

Data at the foundation

82% of leading organizations surveyed say they use data to win customer trust.2 These leaders see that data transparency creates innovation possibilities—and new revenues. Data is undoubtedly a valuable asset for businesses, yet many organizations struggle to harness the right set of data and integrate large sets of data in a multicloud environment to use it as a differentiating advantage. This data is vital to building automated workflows, business platforms and experiences, and scaling AI initiatives. Achieving maximum intelligence within a workflow and realizing the value of exponential technologies requires a strong but agile data foundation. It also requires the ability to extract insights in real time from both internal and external data sources.

Empowered people, meaningful experiences

One of the most important resources a company has is its people. Intelligent workflows can help you create meaningful experiences for both customers and employees. Real-time insights and automation capabilities empower your employees to make data-driven decisions with speed and confidence and focus their energy on higher-value work.

Exponential results through the application of exponential technologies

80% of organizations scaling intelligent automation expect to outperform competition in revenue growth in three years, while 90% of executives whose organizations are scaling intelligent automation say it creates higher-value work for their employees.3 With the right data sources in place, your organization can maximize the value of intelligent workflows through the use of exponential technologies, such as AI, automation, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing and 5G. By deploying automation across your enterprise, you can build a more adaptable business that rapidly responds and adopts new operating models to thrive in a challenging market.

How do I get started?

We'll meet you wherever you are today to help you build momentum. IBM Garage™ provides a unique, comprehensive framework to help you put innovation at the heart of your enterprise and drive meaningful, measurable transformation while empowering your team along the way.

When working with us, our clients benefit from the full power of One IBM, including leading exponential technologies like AI, hybrid cloud and automation, extensive industry alliances, and the deep expertise that only comes from experience.

Intelligent workflows bring together the business-led and the technology-led discussions around modernization. In this era of speed, it’s more important than ever to embark on transformations across all of these facets together versus individually. ”

- Dominque Dubois, Global Strategy Offerings Executive, Business Transformation Services

2 IBM Institute for Business Value, Global C-suite Study: Build Your Trust Advantage (PDF, 452 KB), November 2019.
3 IBM Institute for Business Value, Automation and the Future of Work (PDF, 400 KB), July 2020.


5 min read

Intelligent workflows for supply chain

51% of supply chain executives say their most effective short-term strategy to rebalance supply chain planning is to reallocate production lines to other products. 61% of those supply chain leaders agree that developing agile and resilient workflows is the best long-term strategy to prepare for the future.4

Organizations that continually refine processes consistently deliver better business outcomes, even in times of change. IBM can help you evolve your supply chain processes to reduce operational silos, respond to market disruptions, mitigate risk, optimize inventory costs and maintain business continuity. With deep industry and domain expertise and proven co-creation methodology based on IBM Garage, our experts can help improve the interactions between your people, data and processes in supply chain planning, sourcing, manufacturing and fulfillment.

Beyond supply chain planning

Rapidly shifting demand patterns are making historical trend analysis increasingly irrelevant. IBM can help you break down silos in your existing data and use new sources of data to sense changes in demand and continuously plan in real time. Together, using industry-specific AI models, we’ll help you automate the right parts of your workflows to drive a shift from reactive to proactive planning.

Get started with IBM Continuous Intelligent Planning

Our offering, IBM Continuous Intelligent Planning, is designed to evolve supply chain planning through continuous collaboration and smarter process modernization. Our consultation-to-operation approach combines a suite of IBM applications, data sets and AI models to reimagine supply chain planning to anticipate and navigate disruption.

Pictograms featuring a cloud with multiple arrows and end points, a globe with several circles orbiting it, two chess pieces, and a visibility eye to represent IBM Continuous Intelligent Planning
IBM Continuous Intelligent Planning

Intelligent workflows empower you to take a proactive approach to supply chain planning through:

  • End-to-end visibility
  • Demand sensing
  • Constant collaboration
  • Workflow agility
  • Operational resilience

Client story: Chemonics

The challenge
Chemonics was on a life-saving mission to deliver health supplies for HIV and AIDS, malaria and reproductive health to more than 60 countries around the world. To achieve this critical work, they needed an intelligent supply chain.

The solution
IBM and Chemonics worked together to design an intelligent supply chain platform called Automatic Requisition Tracking Management Information System (ARTMIS). Using ARTMIS, Chemonics can track shipments at every step of the supply chain with an online order catalogue and data visualization tools for supply chain professionals. With this intelligent solution, Chemonics can manage orders up to 24 months in advance and successfully deliver medical supplies to people who need them.

See how Chemonics is transforming global health supply chains with intelligent workflows

Learn more about intelligent workflows for supply chain

4 IBM Institute for Business Value, Smarter Supply Chain Study, June 2020.


6 min read

Intelligent workflows for operations

By 2025, IDC predicts that there will be 55.9B connected devices worldwide and data generated from connected IoT devices will reach 79.4 ZB, with security and video surveillance as well as industrial IoT applications comprising a significant portion of that data.5

In order to optimize data and operations with agility, businesses need to invest in AI and machine learning automation to be able to act on insights in real time with intelligent workflows.

More than 70% of leading Chief Operating Officers (COOs) have planned for large investments in IoT in the next two to three years to transform their business models, processes and products to respond to market demands and build intelligent connected operations.6

Take intelligent manufacturing for example. One of the greatest challenges in achieving intelligent automation is the misalignment of processes and workflows that could support automated decision making. Connecting advanced technologies like IoT sensors, robotics and automation on the manufacturing floor helps enable workflows that act on insights to drive new levels of operational agility and flexibility. By pairing AI with edge computing, workloads are deployed at the edge for continuous data processing with reduced data processing costs and managed autonomously with self-learning and self-correcting processes and machines.

Get started with IBM services for Industry 4.0

An hour of shop-floor downtime could cost upwards of USD one million to as much as USD five million.7

IBM services for Industry 4.0 is the starting point for building intelligent, connected operations. Designed to integrate with virtually any IoT platform, network ecosystem partner, consulting service and research, Industry 4.0 can help enable rapid innovation in your organization. IBM can help you design the factory of the future. We can help with performance diagnostics, strategy and transformation, IT-OT integration. We also offer AI solutions for cloud and edge computing, such as production optimization, visual inspection, industrial acoustic insights and worker safety solutions to accelerate your journey to Industry 4.0. IBM is a global leader in IoT-enabled transformation, providing concept-to-operation strategy and solutions that complement and scale your existing IT investments and simplify management with intelligent workflows.

Pictograms featuring a factory, a transport vehicle, a cloud with multiple workflows extending from it, and a lightbulb with a gear inside to represent IBM Industry 4.0
IBM services for Industry 4.0

How smart is your factory? With IBM services for Industry 4.0:

  • Build resilience into your operations
  • Use real-time insights to support employee safety
  • Minimize equipment downtime
  • Enhance visual inspection processes with AI
  • Enable rapid innovation

Learn more about how to build connected operations with intelligent IoT

Client story: L’Oreal

The challenge
L’Oréal needed increase agility to build new products while maintaining existing products to meet changing consumer product needs.

The solution
IBM applied IoT technology and AI to L’Oreal’s manufacturing shops. The resulting real-time data from sensors on the floor helps detect issues as they arise, driving efficiency and operational performance to act with the speed of a startup at the scale of a global enterprise.

7 IBM Institute for Business Value, Smart manufacturing, May 2020.


8 min read

Intelligent workflows for customer innovation

High-performing companies are 79% more likely to have established intelligent workflows in their organizations, 86% of which agree they have increased customer service and satisfaction.8

Unlocking the potential of data to connect customer lifecycle processes and personalize customer experiences is one of the biggest challenges faced by today’s organizations. Additionally, market disruptions have accelerated the need to improve workflows, with 84% of customer service leaders currently focused on engaging customers virtually and 76% focused on enabling employees to work remotely.9 Now more than ever, it is critical to create modern customer and employee experiences that unlock value from data across workflows to help companies grow relationships, build a resilient business and drive long-term business outcomes.

Intelligent workflows can help unlock the value of data and infuse both internal and customer-facing processes with AI, automation and other technologies to make employee workflows more efficient and customer relationships more personalized. Cloud-based platforms, such as Salesforce, are at the core of creating intelligent workflows that streamline processes across the customer lifecycle and, ultimately, accelerate digital transformation.

Watch this video to see how intelligent workflows can help businesses work smarter when it comes to customer innovation, improving both employee and customer experience.

Modernize employee experience with intelligent workflows for customer service

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged organizations around the world to radically rethink customer support and empower employees with data and technology to help them manage increasing, shifting customer demands.

More than 60% of failed customer support calls could have been solved with better access to data.10

Virtual agent technology is a great example of how intelligent workflows can not only enhance employee experience, but also reduce costs, increase revenue and better serve customers. For many businesses, the pandemic is happening right in the middle of digital transformation with AI-enabled virtual agent technology.

Human agent satisfaction increases by an average of 20% when virtual agent technology is used.11 Virtual agents support live agents by handling parts of the workflow, such as pre-screening requests or customer self-serve capabilities. As a result, live agents can focus on more complicated, urgent customer support with personalized conversations when it matters most.

Learn more about conversational AI for customer and employee service

Intelligent workflows for customer engagement and acquisition

With an intelligent approach to customer engagement, the customer receives personalized, proactive care that’s consistent across their channels—voice, chat, SMS, email and social—for improved experiences. Proactive outbound customer engagement can help resolve issues before the customer is even aware of a problem. Intelligent and dynamic feedback uses data from historical interactions, skillsets and customer satisfaction ratings, for enhanced customer relationships. With real-time insights derived from data, make intelligent recommendations products and advice, and use machine learning to detect anomalies that could be fraudulent activity.

Get started with IBM Cognitive Care

IBM Cognitive Care is designed to be a next-generation customer engagement center. Powered by data, AI and hybrid multicloud technology, Cognitive Care provides dynamic support for customer service employees and meets customers on their terms by delivering exceptional customer service. Support from IBM Garage helps drive not only a technology and process transformation, but also a lasting cultural shift in your organization.

Pictograms featuring a brain, a group of people, a gear, and global financing to represent IBM Cognitive Care customer engagement center
IBM Cognitive Care

  • Scalable, AI-based platforms to accommodate fluctuations in customer demand
  • Consistent and personalized customer experience across channels
  • Reduced cost per interaction
  • Dynamic agent assist enables live agents to prioritize complex customer needs
  • Outcomes-based, pay-as-you-go framework

Client story: Royal Bank of Scotland

The challenge
Throughout the home buying and mortgage process, banks are tasked with accessing and applying accurate policy information to each customer’s unique needs in real time. This process can be particularly challenging for mortgage call center employees.

The solution
Together with IBM, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) developed a plan for digital mortgage support. IBM and RBS co-created an AI-powered, cloud-based platform that empowers mortgage call center employees with real-time digital mortgage support for home buyers. The platform, built with IBM Watson® Assistant on the IBM Cloud®, is a valuable new asset in RBS’ digital transformation. Since implementing the digital mortgage support tool, RBS has seen a 20% improvement in customer Net Promoter Score (NPS) and a 10% decrease in call duration.

Ideally, the implementation of intelligent workflows for end-to-end customer innovation and engagement will be supported by a hybrid multicloud platform. The platform should extend across business ecosystems, unifying finance, marketing, sales, service and IT workflows, as well as bridge external business partner ecosystems. A unified platform can help improve foot traffic in stores, reduce onboarding cycle time and improve customer NPS score.

See how Royal Bank of Scotland made home buying easier with intelligent workflows

Learn more about Cognitive Care for customer engagement (PDF, 1 MB)

9 IBM Market Development & Insights, Intelligent Workflows for Customer Lifecycle Management, December 2020.
10 IBM Institute for Business Value, Reinventing the contact center (PDF, 575 KB), May 2020.
11 IBM Institute for Business Value, The value of virtual agent technology (PDF, 888 KB), October 2020.


6 min read

Intelligent workflows for financial management and planning

Intelligent workflows for financial management and planning are gaining traction, with 85% of organizations currently or planning to invest in the next 12 months.12

Data management and cross team collaboration are two of the most critical factors in the successful implementation of intelligent workflows. And with businesses more focused than ever on enabling remote work and engaging customers virtually, financial management and planning workflows need to be efficient, automated and cost-effective.

Intelligent workflows for financial management and planning can help increase workflow automation on the back end while empowering front office workers to make data-based decisions and more effectively serve customers. Orchestrating technologies like automation, blockchain and AI in the back, middle and front office help curate data and transform financial processes to build resilience and agility.

We build intelligent workflows as custom solutions that focus on three key financial processes.

A woman working on a laptop computer
IBM Lead to Cash
Modernize business processes to improve cash flow, sales effectiveness and customer satisfaction.
A city skyline
IBM Source to Pay
Cut invoice processing costs, improve discount capture and enhance supplier experience.
Two people working together in an office
IBM Record to Analyze
Drive compliance to company data standards and accounting policies for greater efficiency and data-driven decisions.

Get started with IBM Lead to Cash

A top challenge for financial management and planning professionals is inefficiencies from manual completion of tedious, repetitive tasks.12
Lead-to-cash workflows are at the heart of your organization, mission-critical to your business’ success. But with siloed, fragmented data, it can be difficult to ensure customer orders are processed quickly and complex, variable situations are managed efficiently. The IBM Lead to Cash offering can help unlock the value of both internal and external data. Designed to be a smart pipeline accelerator, Lead to Cash helps provide customer visibility across the sales process to keep the payment cycle moving forward.

Pictograms featuring an office building, two people, cash flow, and continuous data automation
IBM Lead to Cash

  • Modernize business processes to improve cash flow, sales effectiveness and customer satisfaction
  • Maximize the value of every customer interaction
  • Empower sellers with customer and product data at their fingertips
  • Automate back-office transactional work so employees can focus on more meaningful modeling with analytics

Learn more about intelligent workflows for your lead-to-cash processes (PDF, 920 KB)

Client story: IBM’s financial management transformation

The challenge
As a heavily matrixed organization, we know that long-entrenched processes paired with siloed communications can lead to customer frustrations. When contracts and quotes take too long, we risk losing customers. We needed a solution that could encapsulate every type of service imaginable and streamline the marketing, configuring, selling, contracting and delivery of every transaction.

The solution
To solve our own problem, we created the IBM Lead to Cash solution, which empowers our sellers and back-office professionals with self-service tools and applications. Robotic process automation performs manual tasks, while end-to-end data access maintains real-time, accessible key information. Today, our approach helps us optimize over 62 million transactions annually, improve seller satisfaction by 37%, and reduce contract cycle time by up to 25%.

Explore our transformation story

By focusing on customer needs and optimizing our sellers’ end-to-end experience, we provide composable lead-to-cash capabilities that continue to evolve. ”

- Theresa Dirker, Vice President, Enterprise Services Transformation & Enablement

Learn more about intelligent workflows for your financial management and planning

12 IBM Market Development and Insights, Intelligent Workflows for Finance Survey, October 2020.


6 min read

Intelligent workflows for talent management

74% of businesses say their top recruiting priority is improving the candidate experience.13

However, the disconnected processes that talent acquisition leaders have to work with—often without access to valuable data insights—are a major barrier to this goal.

Real-time insights can help transform the entire recruitment experience. They are also a defining characteristic of an intelligent workflow. We use automation and AI to turn siloed, static processes into transparent, end-to-end workflows that deliver flexibility throughout the talent lifecycle.

Intelligent workflows for talent management are gaining traction, with two-thirds of organizations currently investing or planning to invest in the next 12 months.14

Intelligent workflows can support your entire talent acquisition lifecycle.

Quantitative and qualitative analysis
Address candidate generation, funnel effectiveness, requisition velocity, process complexity and user feedback.
Identify patterns of significance in volume of hires, process characteristics, ease of execution, required human oversight and the organization’s potential for further digital transformation.
Get to know your users—what they expect, how they prefer to engage and other relevant details such as how in-demand they are as a candidate.
Experience design
Define rules and data triggers to underpin your entire workflow with a user-centric experience.

Get started with IBM Talent Acquisition

IBM Talent Acquisition is designed to simplify the recruitment management process with a central talent platform. Our Precision Talent Model provides an efficient, scalable framework that uses automation, cognitive applications and both artificial and human intelligence to deliver successful recruitment experiences and results. Talent Platform Optimizers with Watson® intelligence allow you to apply AI at precise points in the talent process to identify qualified talent, connect candidates with relevant opportunities and support employee career growth.

Pictograms featuring cycles involving people, a person on a screen, arrows pointing outward from a person, and cash flow moving in different directions
IBM Talent Acquisition

  • Create a consistent and engaging candidate experience
  • Reduce reliance on agencies for recruiting
  • Amplify human impact
  • Add business value to your talent acquisition process

Learn more about intelligent workflows for talent acquisition (PDF, 1.9 MB)

Client story: Overhauling the recruitment process

The challenge
A global industrial machinery company with 17,500 associates in 300+ locations needed support to keep up with hiring demands and develop aggressive talent pipelines, especially recruiting for roles with exceptional hiring requirements.

The solution
In one year of working together, we successfully recruited 3,099 new hires. To fill specialized roles, we collaborated with hiring managers and HR to build a talent pipeline and develop a Special Tools & Tactics (STAT) team to provide high-touch management and reporting for recruiting projects. The STAT team uses sourcing tools, channels and tactics to stay ahead of recruiting needs one fiscal quarter at a time. The team works in an agile approach, with weekly standups and a dashboard to track challenges, roadblocks and successes. Through the STAT program, and using agile methodology and data, we reduced the time it takes to fill an open role, lowering the overall cost of recruitment and new hire onboarding. With improved access to internal data, teams are in a better position to define and inform strategic imperatives and make key hiring decisions based on real-time insights.

Learn more about intelligent workflows for your talent lifecycle

14 IBM Market Development and Insights, Intelligent Workflows for Talent Management Survey, August 2020.