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Have you thought about the number of applications your employees need to go through each day? It’s probably more than you expected.

It’s easy to fall under the impression that applications can solve your company’s productivity problems. They facilitate communication, help manage complex tasks, and perform niche operations for your enterprise.

For communication alone, employees are inundated with multiple applications. With email, Slack, Zoom, Atlassian, Facebook Workplace, and other communication applications competing for attention, just interacting with coworkers has become its own unruly beast.

As users are starting to find out, there is a downside to optimizing every process with digital applications.

Application overload

It may seem like your employees don't deal with too many applications, but the numbers can be surprising. A study by Pega Systems found that workers toggle through as many as 35  applications per shift. As a result, the users studied switched applications 1,100 times each day.

This has deep ramifications on productivity.

Employees who use 30 applications or more have a 28 percent higher error rate than those who use fewer, according to the study.

If an error is caught, it will take time for the employee to go back and fix it. If not, the quality of work is diminished.

Other studies have found even more troublesome effects from application switching. Workplace communication company RingCentral found that 69 percent of workers waste up to 60 minutes a day switching between applications. That adds up to 32 days per year.

Part of the problem is that these applications create more workflows and options for employees to navigate. Emails need to be organized, Slack notifications have to be checked, data must be updated.

And don’t forget notifications. Each application sends users messages that fight for their attention. Employees must process and prioritize each of these in the midst of the tasks they are already trying to get done.

Workers have so many apps at their fingertips that the pressure to address each of their needs pushes employees into a multitasking mindset. Most people spend an average of 1 minute 15 seconds on a task before they’re interrupted. Then it takes another 25 minutes to return to the same task.

Multitaskers take 50% longer to complete a single task, make up to 50% more errors, and lose 40% in overall productivity.

But innovative applications that solve daily problems aren’t all bad. There are ways to harness their power to work for you.

Fight the “Productivity Paradox”

People have noticed that the technology transformations of the last 40 years, while changing the world around us, have not improved productivity as past innovative revolutions have.

Microsoft, itself a leader in workplace productivity, conducted a study that found digital applications are making employees at some companies less productive. In these companies, 21 percent of employees reported feeling unproductive while only 12 percent reported feeling highly productive.

However, employees at other companies have reported contrary different results. Only 5 percent reported feeling unproductive while 22 percent said they felt highly productive.

There is a key difference between companies with the positive productivity results and those with negative outcomes: digital culture.

The companies with more employees that felt highly productive had a strong digital culture. These are companies that give employees training in new technology and access to information, promote the adoption of new technology, and have executives who can give a clear explanation of how the technology fits into the company’s vision.

So the answer to application overload isn’t to get rid of all applications or to adopt new ones, but to take a proactive approach to technology that takes into consideration the needs of your company and employees.

We’ll be discussing some strategies on how to foster a strong digital culture in a future post. What are some tips you think we should include?

Nasdaq led a $20 million series B funding round for Symbiont, a smart contracts platform for institutional blockchain applications, last month, according to a statement by Symbiont.

The move is one of many Nasdaq has made into the blockchain space. Recently, Nasdaq partnered with Microsoft to build a ledger agnostic blockchain capability into the Nasdaq Financial Framework. The New York exchange operator is also expected to begin listing Bitcoin futures in the first quarter of 2019, despite the cryptocurrency's dramatic plunge over the last year.

These endeavors from Nasdaq show an optimistic, if cautious, outlook on the future of blockchain technology. The recent investment in Symbiont indicates the exchange operator's willingness to invest in blockchain startups that show promise. Rather than betting on individual cryptocurrenices, Nasdaq's partnerships and investments point toward a focus on commercial blockchain solutions.

"The world of 'crypto' has gone through the first phase of the classic invention lifecycle, marked by early pioneers, followed by hype, followed by proliferation of newcomers and then a dose of reality," said Adena Friedmand, Nasdaq's CEO in a LinkedIn post. "The extent of its impact will depend on the evolution of regulation and broader institutional adoption."

Symbiont's blockchain solution for finance

Symbiont's blockchain, Assembly, is a permissioned blockchain protocol built specifically for finance applications. It features smart contracts written in Symbiont's domain-specific language designed for financial applications.

Solutions that can be built upon Symbiont's technology include applications for secure mortgage platforms, cap table management, and distribution of index data among other financial applications.

Nasdaq's investment includes plans to integrate Symbiont's blockchain and smart contract platform into the Nasdaq Financial Framework.

"We are committed to discovering and investing in innovative technologies to help build our future market infrastructure used by more than 100 marketplaces around the world," said Gary Offner, Head of Nasdaq Ventures. "We are pleased to support this important, growing area for creating unique institutional applications of blockchain technology."

The Nasdaq Financial Framework consists of a single operational core that ties together Nasdaq's portfolio of business functionality across the trade lifecycle. It allows businesses in the financial space to integrate Nasdaq's business applications with each other and with other third-party applications.

How do you expect Nasdaq’s investments in blockchain to pan out in the future? Let us know in the comments below.

 It’s not easy to sell a digital transformation initiative to the higher-ups. The time and money is one barrier, but many organizations are simply resistant to change. Why would your business’ leaders even think about hiring a digital transformation consulting company when they have already invested time and effort into processes that have worked fine up until now?

The answer is probably in the palm of your hand. Or it’s in your pocket. Maybe it’s even around your wrist.

Over  5 billion people now have a mobile connection. Your customers are walking around with digital devices that have become their window into the world. Rather than learning about products from salesmen or browsing potential purchases in a store, they’re doing their research online and having items shipped right to their doors.

As consumers' lives are made increasingly more convenient by personal devices, they will gravitate toward businesses that can accommodate their digital habits. But digital transformation is about more than catching up to the latest technology.

A comprehensive digital strategy will give your business customer insights that weren’t available in legacy systems, more efficient operational processes, and could even open new sources of revenue.

That’s where experienced digital transformation consulting companies come in. Not only can these companies develop and implement a comprehensive digital strategy for your business, but they can communicate its value to your organization’s leaders and outline exactly what the benefits will be.

With so many consultants fighting for your attention, it can be hard to sift through the noise and find one that can truly deliver. Here are five traits to look for in strong digital transformation consulting companies:

1. They take the time to learn your business

You would obviously expect a digital transformation consulting company to know the tools and technologies required in their business. What really sets companies apart is when they take the time to learn yours.

Your business, its processes, and its customers are unique. While it may share many traits that are similar to other businesses in the same industry, there will be unique points in its operations that are ripe for optimization. Strong digital consulting companies should be able to identify what those are.

A good company will be particularly interested in:

Your pain points

What is bogging your business down and wasting valuable time and resources? Are any processes taking up needless time? What problems keep coming up more than you’d like?  A good digital transformation consulting company should explore what holds your business back in order to address the problem.

Opportunities for growth

You’re always looking out for ways to grow your business. Any digital transformation consulting company you’re talking to should do the same. The consultants should be interested in mechanisms you’ve identified to help your company grow and recommend solutions of their own.

Valuable insights

There are likely some insights that you wish you could gather. Statistics about customer behaviors, or the ROI for certain tasks that take up employees’ time. It can be frustrating when you don’t have access to knowledge you know can improve your operations. These insights are one of the main benefits of a digital strategy, so look to digital transformation consulting companies that are interested in your business’ dark spots.

2. They put strategy over technology

Ultimately, all your technology investments should support business goals. The rapid advancement of technology can be daunting and instill a fear of missing out. Some digital transformation consulting companies will use this opportunity to sell solutions to problems you don’t have. Find a company that puts strategy first, then finds the solutions to support it. Ultimately, the strength of digital transformation lies in its capacity and goals.

Some ways a digital transformation can support business strategies include:

A better customer experience

As we mentioned earlier, customers expect an optimized digital experience. Digital transformation consulting companies should look out for solutions that attract new customers and give them an experience that increases retention.

Operational flexibility

Customer demands are always changing. Your business needs to change with them. Legacy systems can make it hard to adapt, but operational flexibility can be achieved through digital transformation.

Greater awareness

A digital transformation consulting company should be able to find ways you can gain the insights to help your business thrive. This requires more than just analytics. The systems to collect and report on data need while minimizing complexity must be in place in order to glean valuable insights.

Streamlined operations

Increased digital capabilities and silo-breaking solutions can streamline operations in a way never thought possible. A digital transformation strategy should give your business optimized processes that encourage exchanges and collaboration across departments at a high level and increased productivity in low-level processes.

3. They keep the long-term needs in mind

Imagine a digital transformation consulting company meets all your needs and your business runs on 100 percent modern technology. Six months later, you need to add a new feature. After a year, 35 percent of your customers are using a new platform and you see that number growing everyday.

In such a case, there will be nothing more infuriating than learning that the company used practices that make it almost impossible to upgrade your technology to meet the new needs.

There are a couple ways digital transformation consulting companies can ensure your digital strategy can adapt to changes in the future:

Create apps that can be adjusted for multiple platforms

Platforms like iOS and Android have languages that are unique to them, but that doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to one or the other. While developers may need to use platform-specific code to an extent, they can also use a cross-platform language like JavaScript coupled with React Native or another framework to reuse code among platforms. Digital transformation consulting companies should make sure their solutions don’t lock clients into a single platform.

Write maintainable code

Once new software is in place and the digital transformation consulting company’s job is done, someone will have to maintain your applications’ code. There will be regular debugging tasks and someone must add new features when necessary. That’s where maintainable code comes in. The company can make sure you won’t have to go through another digital transformation all over again by using best practices and providing code that is easy for other developers to understand.

4. The digital transformation consulting companies have key partnerships

It's important for any consulting company to have partnerships that enhance its ability to provide the tools that will fuel your digital transformation. You should look for partnerships that cover the core digital services needed to help your company grow. Don't forget to keep an eye out for companies that offer more unique services as well.

Cloud services

One of the first things digital transformation consulting companies should look at is your cloud infrastructure. If your business solely stores its information on premise, its mobility will be hampered severely. However, a full cloud or hybrid cloud and on premise system will allow your business to conduct operations wherever there is internet access. Amazon Web ServicesOracle, and Microsoft Azure are among the big players in this space.

Business Process Management

This is one of your biggest assets. A good business process manager (BPM) will allow you to monitor your business' workflows and optimize its processes. IBM and PEGA both offer robust BPM services.

Robotic Process Automation

A good digital transformation consulting company will help you identify processes in your business that should be able to run themselves. That's where robotic process automation (RPA) comes in. Software bots can be programmed to conduct operations with clear and defined rules, leaving employees to work on less menial tasks. Look to Automation Anywhere for one of the leaders in this field.

Customer Relationship Management

Responding to and keeping track of each customer's emails, phone calls, and other communications without the right tool can quickly become an unwieldy task. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools simplify those tasks. CRMs allow users to send automatic responses, collect customer profiles, and uncover valuable insights. As a result, businesses can attract and retain customers with more efficiency than before. Salesforce is one of the biggest CRM providers.

5. They care about training

Digital transformation can be a disruptive process. That's why you need a digital transformation consulting company that will help you through it. Ultimately, digital transformation should simplify processes. However, it will take training for employees to get on board with the new changes. Workflows must be adjusted and employees will have to learn how to work with new systems. Make sure your digital transformation consulting company has a training plan in place to help your organization get up to speed with the new technology.

Digital transformation can seem like a daunting prospect. And finding the right digital transformation consulting company can be even more risky. What other traits do you think should be added to this list to help businesses find the right company?

We are excited to share news of our partner, Automation Anywhere and their success in one of the Largest Series A Financing Rounds. Infomatics Corp CEO, Shahil Shariff: “The post-money valuation from this investment round is a huge advance for Automation Anywhere and a very encouraging event for partners like Infomatics. We see a winner in the RPA space and a valuable product to delivery rapid productivity gains for our clients.”

Automation Anywhere, the leader in Robotic Process Automation (RPA), today announced it has completed its Series A financing round of $250 million led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Goldman Sachs Growth Equity with participation from General Atlantic and World Innovation Lab (WiL). As one of the largest Series A rounds on record for an enterprise software company, this brings Automation Anywhere’s post-money valuation to $1.8 billion. This sizable investment will help extend Automation Anywhere’s leadership in the rapidly-expanding RPA market and accelerate its global customer engagements and product development.

RPA is a fast-evolving technology which uses software robots (bots) to automate business processes that have never been automated by traditional technology platforms. Today these processes are managed manually by hundreds of thousands of human workers. Automation Anywhere pioneered RPA and its Intelligent Digital Workforce Platform, which also combines cognitive automation and analytics, is driving productivity and business process accuracy with near-zero error rates.

With this investment, Automation Anywhere expects to deepen its customer engagements in North America, LATAM, India, Europe, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Singapore (ASEAN), and plans to deploy its technology in additional geographies. Building on its core product offerings, Automation Anywhere’s customers will further benefit from specialized machine learning capabilities and sophisticated Artificial Intelligence (AI) integrations to drive higher operational efficiency, increased agility and flexibility to scale up-and-down anytime, all with robust security. For more details, visit Automation Anywhere website.

Infomatics Corp is proud to announce our partnership with Automation Anywhere, industry leaders in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and AI technologies. We are excited to offer our Customers access to state of the art RPA technology and implementation capabilities of Automation Anywhere. We are eager to show our Customers all the potential and value that RPA technology can provide. Infomatics Corp will also act as a global license reseller for Automation Anywhere licenses. (more…)

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