• Steve Nathan, Director |
5 min read

Our view is that corporate functions need to work together rapidly and decisively to successfully address the six trends. In this article we explore the practical actions that corporate services can take now to create value by addressing these challenges.

1. Corporate Services: a new role working together

Developing new ways of working together requires the ability to build trust and explore opportunities together. There is no single simple template for how corporate services should be working together – it will vary depending on the industry, culture, history and challenges in each individual organisation.

What practical actions can you use to establish the trust across corporate services to explore opportunities together?


  1. Improve understanding by actively drawing on the experience, knowledge and insights of colleagues who have worked across multiple corporate services
  2. Bring together experts across corporate services to collaborate on your biggest organisation-wide strategic challenges. What can you achieve in 90 minutes by combining perspectives and capabilities?
  3. Use existing leadership and talent programmes, inviting colleagues from across corporate services to rapidly cross-fertilise ideas and build relationships

2. Digitising customer and employee expectations

Corporate services have a key role in designing and delivering a seamless experience for customers and employees across digital and physical channels.

Practical actions to drive the customer and employee experience will vary depending on industry challenges and organisational maturity, but can include:


  1. Bring the customer and employee voice into decision making. For example, gather customer and employee feedback through direct interaction (ask them what they think!) to improve specific decisions.
  2. Map the customer or employee journey to inform a key decision or initiative. Use this as an opportunity to develop collaborative relationships and a common language for how to serve those needs.
  3. Make data used for decision making more accessible to employees. Emphasise the benefits of creating informed, included and empowered colleagues, and focus on decisions that impact them the most.

3. Increasing automation

Successfully exploiting technology and increasing automation is fundamental to success, whether viewed as customer experience, operational effectiveness or value creation. And making the best possible use of technology requires collaboration across corporate services - it’s not just for IT.

To drive collaboration across corporate services on the technology agenda, consider:


  1. Create a collaborative forum that brings together the corporate functions to identify, evaluate, prioritise and deliver automation opportunities.
  2. Accelerate technology implementation, change management and benefits realisation to target increased automation.
  3. Develop a programme to develop capabilities that enable artificial intelligence/machine learning initiatives across the business – for example accelerated business cases in finance, values alignment and workforce impacts in HR, market intelligence in procurement, technology enablers in IT and so on.

4. Upskilling and reskilling – the future shape of the workforce

Corporate services need to take a joined-up approach to addressing the legacy of long term skills shortages in the UK and globally, as well as building the agility needed to continue to adapt to external events and to build a success in post-COVID world.

What practical steps have organisations taken to successfully address long term skills gaps, agility and productivity?


  1. Run a long-term skills planning session by considering scenarios for the 5-10 year future of the organisation, the skills needed in each scenario, and the likely trends in the talent market place.
  2. Agility requires a strong foundation. Invest in the relationships across corporate services and with the rest of the business, then use these to identify practical actions to become more adaptive and agile.
  3. Develop the links between individual productivity and organisation performance. For example, discuss capability, employee engagement and leadership in business performance reviews; and align the processes for business performance and individual appraisals.

5. Environment and shared values in the supply chain

Resilience, transparency and ethics in the supply chain are critical to short and long term organisational success. The impact of Brexit, the pandemic, shifting customer expectations and regulatory frameworks have increased focus on alignment through the supply chain.

Corporate services can collaborate to address this challenge:


  1. Discuss organisational values and ethos together with the supply chain – how do these align between organisations, and how can organisations work together to make mutual progress.
  2. Review the supply chain risks on corporate risk registers, ensure these capture the full range of commercial, sustainability, reputational and business continuity risks, and discuss and follow through on the mitigations
  3. Put environmental impact, sustainability, values, reputation and business continuity onto the agenda in supplier performance reviews for existing contracts

6. Employee wellbeing

Prioritising wellbeing, health, safety, diversity and inclusion makes organisations prosper over the long term. Doing so will be more effective with a joined-up approach

Actions to address this and build collaboration across corporate services could include:


  1. Continue to review where people can work most productively and safely, and how to maximise the productivity of the physical estate, the technology estate and your people
  2. Embed wellbeing, safety and inclusion into the corporate strategy, business performance measures and organisational decision making from board to the front-line
  3. Look after corporate services colleagues – set the tone so they feel supported and included so they can in turn support the rest of the business. Scan for external innovations, and use corporate services as a test bed for piloting wellbeing, safety and diversity initiatives and monitoring impact.

Our next article will cover the trends that are shaping the future of Data and Analytics.