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Building solutions for digital disruption

Building solutions for digital disruption

Today’s business leaders must be aggressive in their efforts to adopt, extend, and integrate digitization.



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Key findings

  • Addressing digital disruption is a top priority for organizations but where to start remains elusive.
  • As with last year’s Pulse survey on digital disruption, organizations remain concerned about how best to address digital disruption and enable digitization. But many are still focused primarily on tactical benefits such as reduced head counts and operating costs.
  • Compared to the 2016 survey, organizations less often cited limited IT systems as a barrier to digitization. In fact, implementing technology that supports basic process automation is the easy part. The hard part is deciding how to use this technology to support more strategic goals.
  • Robotic process automation (RPA) remains a clear automation choice to reduce costs, but organizations are also showing more interest in cognitive automation. A key question here is how and where organizations should implement cognitive solutions to address their specific business needs.
  • Organizations need the right vision and, often times, better and different internal skills to capitalize on digitization.

“The technology is not the hard part. Deciding how to use it and when to implement it is the hardpart. Organizations need both long-term digital strategies and plans as to how they will execute those strategies with specific applications. Lack of action is not an aviable option."

David Brown

Global Head, Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory


Where to start?

Our survey shows more uncertainty than last year about where to start efforts toward increased digitization. In part, this uncertainty might be “the curse of too many options.” Organizations hear confusing and conflicting stories from an increasing number of vendors, service providers, and internal “champions.” As a result, they find it difficult to reach a conclusion about which technology is best for their needs and how to prioritize their technology initiatives. For example, what makes sense for finance and accounting might not be appropriate for procurement, even though these two functions impact one another at multiple levels.

Knowing where to start requires that organizations have a clear vision for digitization and the internal skills to turn this into a reality. The vision should recognize that digitization will impact every part of the organization and should identify specific transactional and strategic applications of digital technologies based on a realistic assessment of legacy IT systems, the strengths and limitations of internal resources (IT and otherwise), cultural resistance to change, and how digitization can align with the organization’s business model. In addition, organizations should look at the implementation of a digitization strategy as a long-term process. Shorter-term projects can drive new efficiencies and result in cost savings that can free up capital to fund larger, more broad-based initiatives.

"Organizations need to build upon RPA efforts that enable them to work more productively and evolve toward cognitive systems that help them work smarter. Organizations should also ask themselves what they actually mean by cognitive—it’s a broad term—and what benefits they expect from it. The use of cognitive has great potential, but organizations need to determine where to start and where its usage is most applicable."

Morris Treadway

Global Head, Financial Management


Actions to consider

Develop a holistic understanding: You need a holistic vision that brings together every stage of the digitization journey, from strategy through execution. This includes identifying priority areas for technological transformation; developing a multi faceted strategy and road map for your workforce of the future; selecting the right providers and partners for your unique needs; and establishing a coordinated governance program to help your organization realize and maintain business value from your digital labor initiatives.

Fit digital into your existing sourcing operations model: Digitization and digital labor will have a strong impact on your organization’s existing service delivery models, including shared services, outsourcing, and global business services. Your organization must assess how digitization will impact these models from an operational, staffing, and contractual perspective. For example, your organization will likely reduce its use of outsourcing and offshore resources, and automate more work. This implies a change in an organization’s overall sourcing strategy but also a rethink of its change and talent management strategies relative to the use of internal and external labor. Your strategy must also need to determine the extent to which, if at all, third party providers should be leveraged to help expand digitization efforts within the organization’s own operations.

Do it now: Successful organizations are already making digital change a priority and marking a clear path for the development and implementation of a company-wide strategy. Your organization should not just want to keep up; it should want to get ahead.

Build on what you have: If your organization already has RPA and other automation technology in place, it can gain maximum benefits from the effective governance of systems and resources, and coordination of efforts where it makes sense. Doing so can also help ensure that additional platforms, such as cognitive automation, can be integrated in close alignment with business goals.

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