Operating at the intersection of business, technology and future systems hubs, Intelligent Business Services (IBS) organizations are uniquely positioned to provide superior and cost-effective experience-based services (e.g., employee services, commercial services) at scale and aligned to users' needs and expectations. They are also structured to develop and operationalize innovation and support high performing enterprises in their drive for sustainable revenues and growth.

Our work with IBS leaders shows that they are actively investing in and grounded in cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), automation and other intelligent technology solutions to make the organization agile and nimble to drive enterprise value.  The timing could not be better. Our recently completed Global CFO Research shows that almost three-quarters of CFOs have the final say on the technology direction of the enterprise and understand the imperative to adopt digital technologies and cloud architectures. This provides CFOs and IBS leaders the opportunity to constructively partner, prioritize and manage technology investments across the enterprise and more importantly capture the value that new technology can deliver in driving cost efficiencies, improving operations and supporting growth.

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While digital technologies and cloud are taking a historical front-seat in the enterprise value equation for many global economies and enterprises due to their value creation potential, it’s extremely important for IBS organizations to become even more integrated with the consumer and the experience-based service delivery models that delight them.

Companies with a clear vision, and holistic view of their technology investments can evolve them into Future Systems that are boundaryless, adaptable, radically human and capable of scaling innovation within their IBS organizations and across the enterprise. Research conducted by Accenture confirms that the strategic use of Future Systems and thinking can help double revenue growth

Given their intrinsic need for visibility to enterprise data, leverage new and emerging technologies and collaborate with ecosystem partners, IBS organizations are ideally placed to reimagine how companies are adopting Future Systems and this enterprise mindset. For example, Accenture Labs has demonstrated how advanced AI can leverage loan data to assess and explain the least of amount changes required to convert an application from denied to approved status (e.g., having more cash on hand or increasing annual income).

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Looking ahead, IBS organizations should go beyond deploying technology solely for process automation and cost reduction (operational efficiency) and push into the new frontier of co-creation between people and machines (collaboration) to develop revenue generation strategies and opportunities including the identification of new customers, products and services (i.e., profitable growth and customer experience enhancement).

Adapting the IBS operating model to leverage future systems thinking

IBS organizations should act as the “aggregating hub” for the enterprise with a focus on building and bringing together the capabilities and ecosystem to fuel the enterprise’s scalable innovation engine (e.g., internal and external relationships and partnerships, business process outsourcing (BPO) and application outsourcing (AO)). Our experience also shows that the skillful use of Future Systems can help enterprises improve their ability to work with cross-department teams that partner with the business and IT to build customer-centric solutions.

IBS organizations should experiment with innovation opportunities, and succeed or fail fast thinking, and proceed accordingly based on results (e.g., continue to implement/invest or discontinue/divest).

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The pandemic accelerated Future Systems thinking.

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They should also continuously seek emerging disruptive technologies that could be incorporated into its Future Systems platform and provide scalable enterprise innovation opportunities.

Given these capacities, IBSs should be the primary interlock among its ecosystem alliances and partners (e.g., business units, IT, BPO, AO, infrastructure outsourcing (IO), other third-parties) to exploit emerging technologies and other capabilities, reimagine their enterprise business models and opportunities, and scale innovation.

Furthermore, IBS organizations should upskill their workforces so they can better focus on and improve innovation and user experience across the enterprise. This includes enhancing hard skills of the future (e.g., AI and machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), data visualization, agile coaching) in addition to human-centric soft skills (e.g., innovation and creativity, design thinking, user experience, collaboration, emotional intelligence). Our work in this space shows that IBS leaders find creative ways to nurture and grow talent.

Where required, IBSs should build, buy, or borrow Future Systems and other advanced skills from ecosystem alliances and relationships to scale innovation and drive enterprise value (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. IBS Innovation and Enterprise Value Ecosystem

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Source: Accenture, March 2021

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Getting It Right

As the economic guardian for the enterprise, the CFO needs to secure the support and commitment of C-suite peers. This is critical to aligning the IBS organization to the enterprise strategy. The action steps that follow can help build an IBS organization capable of delivering sustainable revenue streams and growth:

  • Implement integrated end-to-end processes, establish well-defined workflows, and prime value chains accentuated by high-value moments that matter. This can allow for a seamless flow of product and service innovations from one process to another.
  • Adopt Future Systems versus point solutions. IBS organizations should help companies manage and scale their technology investments as systems versus individual point solutions and foster the enhancement and scaling of holistic innovations across the enterprise.
  • Implement uniform enterprise data, security, and Future Systems governance model to seize the opportunity created by boundaryless systems that touch humans and machines.

By cost effectively placing user needs and expectation at the center of the enterprise’s focus, IBS can become a critical asset in the CFO’s effort to drive top-line growth and bottom-line profitability, key to an agile, resilient and financially viable enterprise. 

See more Finance insights.

Dhruv Jain

Senior Principal – Accenture Strategy, CFO & Enterprise Value

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