Antifragility Can Help Bpm Industry To Combat Unforeseen Catastrophes

Dr. Mitta is currently the Founder & Managing Director of NextWealth Entrepreneurs Pvt Ltd. Bangalore, India. NextWealth is an unique IT company that helps its global clients to gain insights from their data by blending human touch with digital technologies. NextWealth pioneered a distributed delivery business model involving the setting-up of multiple delivery centres in small towns along with entrepreneurs.

The success code of any business, including Business Process Management (BPM) business, is that it should be growing continuously. If the business stalls or degrows then it signals the demise of the business. To grow the business, one must deal with change. As many of us know change is the only thing that is constant. Several factors such as technology, economy, climate, natural calamities, geopolitical events etc. will drive the changes. Sometimes changes can be catastrophic, such as recent pandemic and Ukraine war that have impacted global economy and business environment adversely.

Based on how businesses respond to unforeseen catastrophic events Prof. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a well-known philosopher and mathematician, grouped them into three categories.

First category, fragile businesses tend to breakdown and become weaker when faced with some stress due to unforeseen events. It is resistant to change and is unable or unwilling to adapt to new technologies, market trends, or customer demands.

Second category, resilient or robust businesses do suffer when disaster strikes but soon tide over the crisis to get onto normal growth curve. Such businesses typically invest in redundancy and backup plans for their critical business processes and able to quickly recover from failures or disruptions.

Finally, third category refers to businesses or companies that benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, risk, and uncertainty. There was no word for this trait of using challenges as leverage. Taleb has called such organizations antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness.

In the context of BPM industry, antifragility can be a valuable concept to understand and apply. BPM industry is constantly evolving with new technologies and changing business requirements. They will certainly encounter many challenges and some unforeseen events in coming years. Antifragile BPM companies view disruptions or failures as opportunities to learn and improve and emerge stronger from these experiences.

BPM industry is constantly evolving, with new technologies and changing business requirements. They will certainly encounter many challenges and some unforeseen events in coming years

How to become Antifragile?
Antifragility is a relatively new concept, and its acceptance in the BPM industry varies depending on the organization and the individual. Several companies and practitioners have embraced the idea of antifragility to improve their resilience and agility. To be antifragile, BPM industry must develop and absorb certain characteristics during normal times so that when catastrophe hits,they are ready to respond and make use of them.Some of the characteristics are described here.

Be Agile to Spot Opportunities: Any business which keeps its ears on the ground through strong connect with customers, thought leaders, partners and deep domain capabilities, is well poised to leverage the new opportunities and face uncertainties.

Take the example of a BPM company that serves a large multinational client. The tendency is to deliver consistent quality, high productivity, flexibility, and good price to the client as per the contract. If the company just meets contractual metrics, then it become dispensable and replaceable by the competition. The client expects their vendors to become their partners. To become a real partner to the client, the company should understand the purpose and vision of their client. Then, use this knowledge to contribute to the client’s strategy without being asked. Typically, BPM companies can spot the trends, likes and dislikes of end users, regional variations, etc. in real time by analysing the vast troves of data pertaining to the end users of the client. If the company can understand the data and share the insights that contribute to the client’s vision, the client will never think of leaving such a company even during a catastrophe.

Embrace Uncertainty and Experimentation: The BPM industry is driven by technology and so inherently uncertain. It may encounter situations where it may be difficult to know the best approach. Instead of being paralyzed by uncertainty, companies can try to embrace it as an opportunity for experimentation and learning. The companies can set up centres of excellence with a handful of smart technical and market facing persons who can experiment and work with potential customers.

Another example of getting ready for uncertainties and experimentation is to have robust disaster recovery or business continuity programs to protect client’s business during disasters. Some companies allowed work from home model as part of normal programs. They put in place quality and management processes of those who work from home in such a way that the typical associate delivers the same quality and productivity without deviating from the customer requirements compared to work from office. So, when the pandemic hit the whole industry, companies with such programs were quick to shift entire work force to work from home in matter of hours, without missing a beat or interruption in the service. Companies who have not foreseen or put in right processes were caught napping.

Focus on Continuous Improvement: Antifragile businesses are constantly evolving and improving. The BPM industry should strive to continually improve their skills, processes, and tools. One must look for opportunities to learn from the past experiences and incorporate this learning into present work. Flexible work force with multiple capabilities including some of the current domains like Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning certainly delight their clients.

In summary, antifragility is an important concept to understand and apply in BPM industry. Being agile to spot opportunities, focusing on continuous improvement, building redundancy and flexibility, the industry can become more antifragile. Then they will be better equipped to handle the challenges and unforeseen catastrophes they may encounter in the coming years. One should be aware that these categorizations are not necessarily absolute, and companies can exhibit traits of fragility, robustness, and antifragility across different areas of their operations. However, understanding these concepts can be helpful for identifying areas where a company may be vulnerable or could improve their resilience.