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Expert Solutions: The Future of Digital Value Creation

To create value, focus first on the mundane, not moonshots. So writes Infosys urging businesses to start applying artificial intelligence to solving real-life problems in the here-and-now rather than creating poetry-writing chatbots. Wolters Kluwer has been doing just that for years: freeing professionals from the burden of mundane or repetitive tasks to create tangible value to their businesses. As the company’s 2017 Full-Year Results show, this approach continues to bear fruit. Future value, however, may be created elsewhere. With the company’s C-suite customers firmly in mind, Wolters Kluwer invests into not only a broad and integrated solution portfolio—but also one able to accommodate emergent digital thinking around platforms and ecosystems. The company’s evolution as an expert solutions company is strongly underway.

(Source data: Wolters Kluwer 2017 Full-Year Results)

Managing the mundane 

In 2017, artificial intelligence, one would hope, passed peak hype. As Mark Danaher (Head of Disruptive Technologies Practice at Infosys) writes, it is high time businesses stop trying to get chat-bots to pass the Turing Test, and double down on tackling tedious, time-consuming tasks that are killing business productivity instead.

A recent study found that a stunning 90% of employees are being burdened with boring and repetitive tasks which could be easily automated, freeing up immense value in the workforce. This would come as little surprise to Michael Cleary, Vice President of Product Solutions at Wolters Kluwer.

In this Executive Insights podcast with Nancy McKinstry, Wolters Kluwer CEO, Michael shared his personal experience on how the act of completing tax returns has changed drastically: from a pen and paper activity around the family dining table just a few years ago, to an automated, fully digital experience today.

He went on to discuss how this experience reflects the three long-term structural trends impacting the company’s professional customers:

  • The continued pressure on professionals to improve both productivity and outcomes;
  • Increasing volume and complexity of data, information and regulation that professionals have to manage;
  • Adapting to the pace of technological change—including the rise of AI

As shared with attendees of the 2017 Accenture Innovation Awards, Wolters Kluwer believes that staying very close to their customers—especially; focusing on their workflow—is essential to help professionals tackle their productivity and outcomes challenges.  By literally watching the company’s customers do their daily tasks, then figuring out a way to get it done more effectively—through leveraging automation, machine learning, or other technology—the company creates huge value.

Dramatic impact

Tax professionals today, for example, can often spend around 35% of their time pulling data out of different disparate systems, putting it into Excel, and then crunching and slicing and dicing data, to achieve specific tasks. Now, thanks to bots developed by Wolters Kluwer—which go out and gather that data from across disparate systems, and then structure and deliver it in useful ways—the professional is freed to focus on new, more value-adding tasks.

As Nancy put it recently, “Imagine, if as a professional, someone was to hand you something and say, ‘This will give you 35% of your time back to do other things.’ These are the kinds of things that have a dramatic impact not only on the quality of the work a professional can deliver to their end client, but also for the professional themselves.”

The Professional’s Job to be Done

The company’s focus on the customer’s literal task-at-hand continues to unlock value for professionals in many forms, and across the company’s portfolio. Just a few examples include:

  • Improved outcomes: Used by over 1.3 million clinicians worldwide, UpToDate is the only clinical decision support resource associated with improved outcomes—while also reducing costs. One recent study confirmed that the information UpToDate offered led to a change in investigation diagnosis, or management 37% of the time.
  • Saving costs: LegalVIEW® BillAnalyzer applies machine learning to help corporate legal departments and insurance claims organizations automate and manage incoming legal invoices—offering the company’s customers an average cost savings of 6 to 9 percent in legal fees, sometimes to 11 to 12 percent.
  • Improving productivity: CCHiQ helps professionals in the tax and accounting industry achieve aggressive growth goals by using predictive intelligence to identify external trigger events and match these events with their client profiles and even automate a proposed client letter.
  • Reducing complexity:  M&A Clause Analytics is a workflow solution combining artificial intelligence and expert attorney curation that helps legal professionals  improve quality, cost and work efficiency, and ease of preparing merger and acquisition agreements.

Staying this close to a professionals’ workflow; identifying, and understanding their pain points, is essential for Wolters Kluwer to stay on the winning side of innovation and develop the expert solutions that have this impact.

The company’s C-suite customers, however, have a rather different set of challenges.

The C-Suite Challenge: performance and platforms

Just a few short years ago, a ‘bolt-on’ approach to digital (adding a few digital channels or an app or two internally) was considered enough for most enterprises to survive. However, as industry after industry: in healthcare, Fintech and more, is disrupted, the ‘old’ rules no longer apply.

Today’s CEO is digital by default. That means they need to look at optimizing their operating model to improve both performance, and return-on-investment from product and technology. Delivering quality in products and services, effectivity and productivity across the organization, and an exceptional digital customer experience, are all critical success factors.

However, being digital by default also means that CEOs must also explore new business models to stay competitive. The places that value is created today may not be the same tomorrow.

In this Accenture survey, eighty-one percent of executives believe that platforms will be core to their growth strategy within three short years. Industries will be reshaped into interconnected ecosystems. In those ecosystems, enterprises, providers, partners consumers and employees can all interact to create, co-create collaborate, exchange goods, products or services that help create more, new—and different—value.

Ecosystems, they argue, are the new bedrock of digital. McKinsey too, is recognizing new evidence for the power of digital platforms.

As Nancy McKinstry recently noted, this platform and ecosystem thinking is one of the market trends informing her thinking on the company’s own investments into developing not only a very broad and integrated product portfolio—but also do that in such a way that the company’s solutions could, perhaps, become part of these emergent ecosystems in the future.

The Role of the Expert

As we explored some time ago, to create value for the company’s customers, Wolters Kluwer capitalizes on the deep domain knowledge and subject matter expertise of its people.

Wolters Kluwer employs practitioners across every division: doctors, nurses, health professionals, tax & accounting professionals, finance practitioners, and more. In addition, the company’s business units have advisory boards of practitioners, or work directly with practitioners themselves.

External partnerships too, play a role. In health markets, for example, Wolters Kluwer partners with electronic medical records companies and other players in the health ecosystem. The same is happening in tax and accounting too.

Over time, these partnerships are becoming more important as—in combination with the company’s 19,000-strong workforce—they unlock value not only for Wolters Kluwer, but also our customers, their clients—and other partners too. The full ecosystem benefits.

Expert solutions

As Wolters Kluwer enters the last year of its current three-year strategy cycle, and building from a strong 2017 Full-Year Results, there is much to look forward to.

The Wolters Kluwer sweet spot is at the intersection of deep domain knowledge of our customers’ work, strong workflow insight—and the coupling with advanced technologies including, of course, artificial intelligence, that helps our customers improve productivity or outcomes.

In short; expert solutions.