Top Three Challenges Facing GBS in 2021 (and How to Beat Them)

Global Business Services must heed the 'performance' challenge

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Mark Barlow

Turbulence will remain

If 2020 has been a turbulent year for GBS, 2021 is set to stay on the same course. Fortunately, while even the most-prepared organizations found themselves having to adjust last spring, we’re now in a position where we can see the road ahead relatively clearly.

The most obvious challenge is that remote working is here to stay, and that comes with consequences.

So, while driving towards digital service delivery is still a priority and end-to-end remains something of an endgame, the urgency has been accelerated.

It’s crucial that GBS adjust their strategies accordingly.

As a result, the three key challenges facing GBS in 2021 are effectiveness, experience and engagement. And while these aren’t anything new (the role and goal of GBS is still the same, after all) they need to be looked at with a renewed focus, or at least approached from a different angle.

1. Improving effectiveness by bridging the gaps between apps

GBS's definition hasn’t changed: An effective GBS is still one that supports businesses needs, quickly. The responsibility also remains the same: Ensuring the value-adding parts of a business are at their most valuable, as well as measuring the time and cost savings.

The destination, however, has shifted.

While the number of role-critical apps have stayed at the same level or even increased for most employees, the move to remote means people’s support networks have taken an unquantifiable hit. With the demand for digital service delivery, number of software windows and employee isolation all increasing, it’s no wonder end-users turn to tickets or agent support for help. But we know this isn’t effective.

To win in terms of effectiveness in 2021, GBS teams need to continue to automate and integrate processes in pursuit of end-to-end, but do more to address the gaps between apps.

It’s common for 'end-to-end' to be taken to mean consolidation, but it can also mean connection—joining up the technology across a process, instead of bringing the process into software.

While having one app to do it all is ideal, it’s not the only option (nor is it realistic). Rather than spending significant time and money rewiring entire processes, approaching end-to-end from this perspective is an alternate path to reaching the next stage of business services evolution. In doing so, you’ll not only control the crucial spaces between processes and functions, but deliver on your primary goal of giving people what they need, and quickly.

2. Transforming digital experiences with fast, proactive fixes

While user experience is a far-reaching term, it’s useful for GBS to think of it as simply ensuring users still feel good about the software and approach, even when it breaks. In 2021, the challenge is that while this positivity could previously be built, reinforced and backed up in person, we’re likely to be remote for much, if not all, of the next 12 months.

Without belittling our efforts to maintain cultures and communications while working from home, nothing beats actual face-to-face when it comes to raising positivity. When this is removed, and the ability to tap a colleague on the shoulder to resolve a difficulty goes with it, the good feelings associated with GBS are at risk. Nothing encourages negativity like isolation.

To overcome the 'experience' challenge in 2021, GBS strategies needs to ensure as much help as possible is made available to users when and where they need it.

In service delivery there should be a general objective to monitor and eliminate issues before they can happen again. Failing that, self-service should be made as accessible, and as effective, as possible.

This shouldn’t be anything new for digitally-minded organizations. And while it’s not as if all support used to be delivered in-person (or even should be), it’s crucial to think of the whole employee experience in context. With many workers at their most isolated, fixing as many issues as possible in-application is crucial to maintaining satisfaction with the GBS model.

3. Encouraging engagement and measuring the effect

Preserving workforce buy-in to both the technology of choice and the all-round approach is the third challenge facing GBS in 2021. It’s essential that this isn’t forgotten as we continue to work apart, and is only made more pressing as organizations begin to take a borderless approach to talent.

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Catapulting Digital GBS: the Key to Digital Service Delivery

While hires during this period are more likely to be used to the remote approach or will be happy to adopt it as a new starter, legacy employees may have a harder time. This is not only linked to the in-person fail-safes they had in place for support, but their entire old way of working. Combined with accelerated change, a lack of engagement can quickly create splintered uptake and satisfaction.

To prevent difficulties and ensure engagement throughout 2021, GBS needs to not only get creative with communications, but monitor what gets through and the effect it’s having.

In terms of the messaging itself, an in-the-flow-of-work delivery will always bring the best results. However, this isn’t only about placing your messages where they are most relevant to avoid getting ignored in your inbox. With the right technology, putting comms in-application can open crucial insights into both engagement and effect.

By tracking engagement with these messages, as well as other in-app interactions, you’ll get quantifiable proof of engagement levels, see how this influenced performance in the engaged vs the non-engaged, and measure the associated value.

 So, in summary

To emerge into the next year in the best possible position, GBS needs to retain its focus on effectiveness, experience and engagement – but reframe these familiar challenges.

Being decisive, and using technology to assist this, is what will separate the best GBS organizations from the rest.