June 26, 2023
History suggests that during times of challenge – whether economic, social or geopolitical – crises act as adrenaline for innovation, an injection of energy designed to overcome danger.
Crushing years of roadblocks in a matter of days, the shift from deliberation to decision can be profound.
“Some view innovation as essential for survival,” noted Cholapatr Bhuripanyo, Managing Director of ZyGen.
Amid ongoing economic challenges in Thailand, such sentiment is visible as businesses adopt a “cautiously optimistic” approach to transformation.
Despite a conservative base of executives refraining from embracing new technologies during times of struggle, Thai organisations remain united in the search for cost reduction, operational efficiency and business continuity. Not forgetting the need to minimise risk while increasing revenue and capitalising on new market opportunities.
“So one way or another, innovation is becoming increasingly important in the face of these persistent economic challenges,” Cholapatr said. “But it’s difficult to keep updated with so many rapidly changing technologies.”
Reaping the rewards of RPA
Cholapatr speaks from experience as the Bangkok-based consultancy continues to evolve beyond an enterprise resource planning (ERP) heritage which spans 24 years in market.
Founded in 1999 as a specialist SAP services provider, ZyGen is also embracing new innovation through a separate business unit designed to maximise the potential of emerging technologies such as data analytics, robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and the metaverse.
Aligned to the philosophy of leveraging market-leading solutions to help people and businesses grow sustainability, ZyGen is blending the imperative of ERP modernisation with a mandate for business transformation.
“Other providers may focus solely on core business solutions such as ERP but we offer innovative consultancy services to our clients,” Cholapatr added.
Cholapatr said digital transformation – particularly of core business processes – is now “crucial” for organisations seeking cost-effectiveness and competitive advantage through enhanced customer engagement and improved service delivery.
“AI and ML will be integrated to refine decision-making and automate tasks,” he explained. “Automation and RPA are becoming the norm, as relying solely on humans is no longer sufficient.
“Remote work and collaboration platforms, such as metaverse offices, will also provide a significant advantage to organisations that implement effective hybrid or remote office strategies and technologies.”
With cost reduction and business continuity top priorities, demand for RPA projects continues to “grow dramatically” in Thailand.
“Some organisations want to reduce costs and see RPA as an urgent must-do-it-now project,” Cholapatr shared. “Others face insufficient workforce issues meaning that RPA presents a significant opportunity.”
For Cholapatr, forward-thinking companies are now combining the power of RPA with the expertise of business analytics, now considered “crucial” in meeting evolving corporate objectives.
“Business analytics serve as a guiding light,” Cholapatr said. “This provides real-time data and insights that enable companies to make informed decisions and plan strategic future approaches.
“This also allows for the development of tailored, personalised services or solutions that cater to customer-specific needs rather than offering one-size-fits-all products. Without business analytics, a company would be operating as if blindfolded.”
Referencing the rise of generative AI, Cholapatr acknowledged that tasks once suited for humans can now be effectively performed by digital workers through RPA. But the correct approach is not to place humans and digital workers on a collision course, rather to find new ways that both can collaborate together.
In Thailand, this should not be viewed as an all or nothing scenario – organisations can embrace RPA while allowing employees to perform higher value tasks instead.
“Organisations can accomplish tasks faster and more efficiently at a lower cost with RPA,” Cholapatr noted. “So instead of relying on humans to enter data into an ERP system, many processes can be completed automatically by RPA. Humans will continue to be important but their roles will shift toward more meaningful jobs.”
From an AI and ML standpoint, Cholapatr said such technologies are now being integrated into core enterprise IT solutions such as ERP to accelerate modernisation efforts.
For example, AI-powered analytics can now deliver “actionable insights and uncover hidden opportunities”, in addition to providing tailored offerings designed to enhance user experience levels and generate new revenue streams.
“Business analytics serve as a guiding light… without business analytics, a company would be operating as if blindfolded”Cholapatr Bhuripanyo (ZyGen)
“Fraud detection is another area where AI and ML can help mitigate risk,” Cholapatr added. “AI can analyse transactions and detect potential fraud across various enterprise sectors. Process mining and automation with AI and ML algorithms can enhance enterprise capabilities by automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks.”
Integrating technologies such as IDP (Intelligent Document Processing) and OCR (Optical Character Recognition) with RPA can also enable enterprise-grade organisations to process scanned paper documents and extract content from images.
“These advancements ultimately elevate business capabilities and provide a competitive edge,” Cholapatr advised.
Maximising the metaverse
Despite being a pioneer in RPA, Cholapatr and Zygen continue to prioritise people as the most critical function in the business, aligned to the belief that “changes stem from technologies but breakthroughs arise from people”.
“Some may think that technology and in-depth knowledge are the most important components,” Cholapatr added. “For me, however, people are the most important.”
Since COVID-19, many organisations – whether consultancy firms or enterprise businesses – have been hampered by “insufficient workforce” issues.
In response, ZyGen developed a “sustainable recruitment” model more than 12 months ago to provide advanced training to candidates “without physical boundaries”. This is in addition to offering free training and driving project collaboration with universities as part of the company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) plan.
“At the same time, we have successfully recruited people from different locations,” Cholapatr added. “Many of our staff members work remotely from anywhere, without having to follow traditional steps such as coming to a physical office for an interview or contract signing. We have been doing things differently for some time.”
The borderless approach to employee talent also extends to customer experience, with organisations able to leverage ZyGen’s virtual knowledge centre for additional guidance and support.
“Our customers can connect with us like never before,” Cholapatr said. “They can visit our virtual office anytime they want to talk to our team, or explore and learn at their own pace. We also use this innovation for our internal operations.”
Business appetite for embracing metaverse environments such as virtual offices or knowledge centres is increasing in Thailand given the rise of remote work during the pandemic.
Yet the benefits of cost and time savings remain counterbalanced by an increase in disconnected workplaces, decreased employee engagement and reduced collaboration and teamwork.
Hence the need for more advanced virtual environments to help address ongoing concerns related to lower efficiency and business performance.
“Some organisations have found great success in remote work,” he explained. “The technology and platform for a remote workplace should not be limited to just online meeting tools.
“A virtual workplace that allows employees to join the virtual office as avatars and walk-and-talk within a virtual map is essential. Modern gamification and online collaboration tools can also help organisations create a successful remote work environment.”
In offering enterprise IT consulting services through a virtual project environment, employees and customers can now connect via ZyGen’s modernised workplace and collaborate effectively.
“Many customers enjoy this offering and even purchase virtual workplace services from us for their own virtual offices,” Cholapatr added. “This could be employee party events, open-house events or recruitment events. We will continue to grow our team in this area to align with the increasing demand in this field.”
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