In brief

In brief

  • Functional silos hinder incumbents' ability to compete, making them slow, bureaucratic and complex at a time when there's a need for speed.
  • Our research found only 25 percent believe their company’s operating model has evolved quickly enough to align to their strategy.
  • Now incumbents are catching up to their nimble rivals, shedding the rigidity of siloed organizations.

Marketing. Sales. Finance. Human resources. Run as distinct silos, these and other functions are too big, too slow and too expensive to be effective.

They can be barriers to speed, agility and decisiveness as each area, in turn, weighs in on key decisions. It’s something incumbents understand more and more each day: Only 25 percent believe their company’s operating model has evolved quickly enough to align to their strategy.

Innovators, startups, and disruptors organize around customer experiences and value propositions and bring in functional skills as needed, eschewing the sequential and gaining speed in the bargain.

Hurrying evolution

Given the speed at which business is moving, incumbents can no longer afford to group skillsets solely within an organization in functional silos. Because the lapsed time from idea to action has shortened too dramatically to accommodate sequential processing, and companies can no longer afford planning approaches that take weeks or months to design.

"To make decisions quickly, skills must be embedded in our front-line management teams, not in Finance, HR and Marketing silos."

— Till Dudler, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy, Consumers Goods & Services

Stopping the silo spread

It’s a natural tendency: as businesses grow, they tend to adopt more traditional structures which leads to centralized functions and divisions.

Over time, organizations respond according to their internal needs over those of the market and the customer. And silos spread, ultimately inhibiting collaboration and innovation.

The trick comes in breaking them down by redesigning work to redefine end-to-end processes. Then giving employees the right tools for what’s most important: driving a relevant customer experience.

Redefine work

Empower market-facing teams to make decisions that break down functional silos and embed functional expertise in multi-disciplinary teams.

Enable teams with AI and analytics

Agile companies provide employees with a suite of digital tools to enhance job performance.

Redefine end-to-end processes

Integrate functional capability at the optimal point in the process; execute short sprints to prove value; and rapidly scale to build momentum.

View All

Till Dudler

Managing Director – UKI Strategy Practice Lead, and Europe Lead, Consumer Goods​

Paul Jeruchimowitz

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Global lead Intelligent Operating Model

Kent McMillan

Managing Director – Global Lead, Organizational Development and Europe Lead, Intelligent Operating Model


Benjamin Gaunt

Senior Manager – Accenture Strategy​

Sanam Gill

Senior Manager – Accenture Strategy

Samuel Holmes

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy​


The resilient operating model
The Big Zero

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