The Role of Generative AI in Streamlining Business Processes By Elets News Network - 10 April 2024


Technology plays a crucial role in forecasting, be it demand forecasting or optimising the supply chain, highlighting its integral contribution to the core functions of GBS and GCC organisations. The deployment of technology to address these entities’ most significant pain points promises a substantial transformational shift, shares Srividya Kannan, Founder and CEO, Avaali, in an exclusive interaction with Nidhi Shail Kujur of Elets News Network (ENN). Edited Excerpts:

As the Founder and Director of Avaali Solutions, you have championed digital transformation for numerous industries across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Could you share the core strategies or philosophies behind Avaali’s success in transforming over 250 marquee accounts with new technologies?

Over the past eight years, we’ve achieved significant transformation for over 250 large enterprise accounts, reflecting our commitment to driving substantial change in the business landscape. At the heart of our strategy lie three fundamental pillars that have guided our journey towards success.

Firstly, our approach is focused on cost optimisation within large enterprises, mainly through digital interventions. This focus is primarily aimed at refining functional business processes, especially in the operational business process areas in the expense line items in the P&L such as Procurement, F&A, Supply Chain, Contracts & legal, etc. Our objective has always been to enable more efficient and cost-effective operations, laying a solid foundation for financial health and sustainability.

Secondly, building capabilities form the core of our strategy. Cost optimisation is not just about identifying areas to reduce expenses; it requires a profound functional understanding across the various business processes we digitise. This deep dive into functional aspects and the technologies facilitating transformation is crucial. It allows organisations to lower operational costs and enhance visibility and governance through digital means. Thus, fostering a comprehensive skillset and technological expertise is paramount to our approach.

Lastly, innovation is the driving force behind our continuous evolution. We are committed to developing and offering new solutions that address the changing needs of functional business processes. For instance, Avaali’s ‘Velocious’ launch in August 2020 marked a significant milestone in automating sourcing and procure-to-pay processes. Similarly, ‘AcuRec,’ our plug-and-play solution for Reconciliations, exemplifies our dedication to innovation. These solutions, among others, underscore our commitment to facilitating transformative journeys for organisations, proving that continuous innovation is integral to achieving and sustaining transformation.

With your broad experience in technology, financial services gives you deep insights into digital transformation trends and challenges. Which emerging technologies do you believe will significantly affect large enterprises soon?

Emerging technologies are fundamentally transforming the landscape of large enterprises, sparking innovation, enhancing stakeholder experiences, and opening new growth pathways. Among the plethora of emerging technologies, certain high-impact ones stand out for their transformative potential.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a prime example. Its capability to tackle complex business challenges and redefine operational efficiencies is unparalleled. AI has evolved from a specialised innovation to becoming nearly indispensable for enterprises. Although many large organisations are still in the early stages of identifying use cases, the consensus is clear: AI is becoming a core element of operational processes. Its integration promises many advantages, including improved decision-making, operational efficiency, enhanced customer experiences, and advanced predictive analytics.

Another critical area is developing and implementing line-of-business (LOB) applications. These applications are tailored to address specific business challenges and seamlessly integrate with the broader enterprise system landscape. They have revolutionised workflows, fostering superior collaboration and incorporating mobility and accessibility features that bolster organisational resilience.

However, to fully leverage the benefits of these emerging technologies, it’s crucial to understand the underlying business problems they aim to solve sincerely. Making these technologies relevant and effectively integrated into business strategies is essential. Many organisations are diligently working to pinpoint high-impact areas and precisely define problem statements to ensure that deploying these technologies yields transformative outcomes. This meticulous approach to innovation will ultimately drive significant and sustainable change in the business landscape.

How do you foresee the integration of Generative AI (GenAI) transforming the operations and services of Global Business Services (GBS) and Global Capability Centers (GCCs) in the upcoming years?

The potential for leveraging technology within Global Business Services (GBS) and Global Capability Centers (GCC) is immense. The expectation is that GBS and GCC entities will utilise technology to build operational resilience and deliver their operating models distinctly innovatively. The application of technology spans multiple functional business processes, including but not limited to sourcing, procurement, supply chain management, HR, and legal and contracts, among others. Each area harbours a wealth of use cases ripe for technological innovation.

For instance, in the realm of sourcing, technology can automate the creation of Request for Information (RFI) and Request for Proposal (RFP) documents, summarise supplier contracts or proposals, and profile suppliers. It extends to managing supplier information, assessing supplier risks by integrating vast datasets from internal and external sources, analysing supplier sustainability, conducting market research, benchmarking, and tracking market trends. This comprehensive data integration can significantly enhance supplier performance analysis and visualisation, facilitating compliance management and policy document creation.

Moreover, technology plays a crucial role in forecasting, be it demand forecasting or optimising the supply chain, highlighting its integral contribution to the core functions of GBS and GCC organisations. The deployment of technology to address these entities’ most significant pain points promises a substantial transformational shift. This shift will redefine how GBS and GCC operations are executed and set a new standard for operational excellence and innovation in the global business landscape.

With the rise of GenAI, what specific advancements should businesses anticipate in their GCC/GBS models, and how will these changes enhance operational efficiency and innovation?

To distil it to its essence, the trajectory of Global Business Services (GBS) is likely to be heavily influenced by Artificial Intelligence (AI), marking a significant departure from traditional operations to a model where human assistants play a supporting role. This evolution necessitates a fundamentally different talent pool and operational methodologies than the norm for GBS and Global Capability Centers (GCC) in the past.

There is a noticeable shift towards establishing captive GBS units as new, greenfield operations or evolving existing shared services into more mature, expansive GBS organisations. At the core of this transformation is technology, driving the delivery of business processes with the augmentation of human-assisted agents. These agents will validate and make judgment-based decisions, signifying a blend of automation and human intelligence in GBS operations.

Consequently, we will see a significant portion of GBS’s operational and predictable business processes being automated alongside a proactive delivery of predictive insights and analytics to business leaders. This will empower them to make informed decisions regarding their future operations, indicating a blend of innovative and traditional approaches to business management.

The landscape across GBS and entire enterprises is shifting, with a renewed focus on leveraging technology for innovation and transforming operational models. The ultimate goal for many is to achieve desired outcomes in a differentiated manner through the strategic use of technology. This vision is shared by both GBS and GCC entities, highlighting a collective move towards more technologically driven, outcome-oriented strategies.

Given the increasing demand from Middle Eastern companies to establish their GCCs in India, how is GenAI positioned to facilitate this expansion, and what benefits does GenAI offer to make India an attractive destination for these centers?

India possesses many advantages that position it as an exceptional destination for Global Business Services (GBS). The country’s rich talent pool is at the forefront, boasting a deep understanding of functional business processes and excelling in technological prowess. This unique combination makes India an exceptional developer and expert adept at integrating emerging technologies with business operations to drive impactful outcomes.

Beyond talent, India offers an attractive proposition in terms of real estate. With various excellent locations available, India presents optimal environments for GBS operations, catering to the diverse needs of businesses looking to establish or expand their services.

Moreover, India’s appeal extends to its strategic geographical positioning and cultural compatibility, mainly with Middle Eastern markets. The proximity, with travel times ranging from four to seven hours, alongside a shared cultural ethos, makes India an ideal partner for organisations looking to leverage GBS for their operational needs.

Considering these factors collectively—talented workforce, technological expertise, prime locations, geographical proximity, and cultural alignment—India is a prime destination for Global Business Services. Its comprehensive ecosystem not only supports but also enhances the operations of GBS, making it a top choice for companies worldwide seeking to innovate and excel in their services.

Regarding quantifiable outcomes, how has implementing Avaali’s technology solutions, including GenAI and automation, led to slashing business operation cycle times by 40-50%? What does this mean for the future of operational efficiency in large companies?

Our strategy has focused on cost optimisation, with a comprehensive approach penetrating organisations’ operational and functional business processes. This focus extends to scrutinising the expense line items in the P&L, guided by three foundational pillars that define our operational framework.

The first pillar is Global Business Services (GBS) or Shared Services. Our role involves assisting companies in establishing captive shared services by developing a visionary framework and roadmap. This encompasses identifying which functional business processes should be integrated into shared services, advising on adopting new technologies and maximising existing technological investments. Our commitment goes beyond crafting a blueprint; we actively implement these strategies, handling projects of various complexities—from establishing entirely new shared services to transitioning from outsourced to in-house operations and expanding existing services to incorporate additional business processes.

The second pillar focuses on creating solutions for a digital workplace. Leveraging cutting-edge digital tools and technologies, such as intelligent document processing, workflow automation, records management, and digital signatures, we aim to enhance stakeholder experiences. This applies to employees and customers, contributing to reduced operational costs, shorter cycle times, and increased process agility.

Our third pillar is dedicated to automation, where we empower organisations to drastically shorten process cycle times through automation solutions like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and process mining.

By steadfastly adhering to these three pillars and deeply engaging with the backend operational business processes, we have successfully enabled more than 250 large enterprise customers to achieve significant reductions in cycle times—ranging from 40% to 70%—while lowering operational costs. This achievement underscores our commitment to delivering value and operational efficiency across various business domains.

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