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How Leaders are outpacing Laggards in technology adoption


November 8, 2021

You don’t have to convince me about the power of technology to drive change and growth. But it’s always satisfying to see research that backs up my own experience. Which is what happened when I talked with our Integrated Global Services Lead, Ramnath Venkataraman in a recent podcast.

We discussed new research that shows how stepping up investments in cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies, leaders in the market are actually growing their revenues at up to five times the rate of laggards. That’s a compelling reason to be grouped with the leaders—and worth exploring how they got there.

Ramnath gave me a bit of history behind these latest findings. In an earlier study in 2019 with 8,300 C-suite executives in different industries across the world, we asked how quickly and to what extent they were embracing tech changes and how this had affected their organizations. Leaders in technology adoption and innovation made up the top 10% and laggards the bottom 25%—and the leaders were growing revenues at 2X the laggards.

Roll forward a year or so and add a pandemic into the mix and we decided to see where some of those executive responses landed today. This time we contacted 4,300 executives and had some dramatic validation that the leaders were definitely on the right path. We discovered leaders were growing not at 2X but 5X the laggards today—even with the recent humanitarian, economic and social disruptions. It means there's a quantum difference between what leaders are doing with technology to drive business growth and what laggards are doing.

Making a leap

Not only that, there’s a further surprising finding that supports the idea that winners really do take all. A new group emerged that we call the leapfroggers and they are challenging the leaders by growing 4X as far as revenues are concerned. Leapfroggers are companies that build core systems strength, scaling new technologies. They also flip their IT budget to favor innovation.

Here’s some of the tactics leapfroggers use, they:

  • Replatform for systems strength by moving to and innovating in the cloud
  • Reframe their mindset to innovation, investing in new tech and collaborating with partners and platforms
  • Reach for expanded access to technology across functions and embrace a broader value agenda, addressing employee reskilling, well-being and mental health.

I’ve mentioned before how Accenture was well-placed to tackle the impact of COVID-19 because of our own leapfrogging toward being a digital, omni-connected company. We were able to emerge stronger from the pandemic because we had already invested in the right structure and tools to enable us to switch to a remote working environment for our more than 500,000 people, without skipping a beat.

Taking the lead

I invite you to take a closer look at the research. But in the meantime, here are some practical pointers that Ramnath shared with me that could be helpful for your own technology journey to innovation:

  1. Define a top-down strategy around how you’re going to embrace technology. It’s not only a topic for the CIO’s agenda—it should be on all the C-suite’s agenda. Apply a diagnostic to establish where you are and what you need to do to match the leaders. Then you can take meaningful steps using the three tactics (replatform, reframe and reach) to navigate the journey.
  2. Adopt practices that inspire agility. Use a “fail fast and first” approach to help you move quickly toward a minimum viable product. As our report notes, leaders concentrate not only on technology adoption, but also the next vital, strategic steps. These include scaling tech across the enterprise, putting in place the right culture and reskilling and upskilling their workforce.
  3. Create a solid technology foundation with cloud as the backbone. Embrace talent transformation and making sure that it's sustainable in the event of change. Technology needs to be all pervasive—not sitting in specific pockets of the organization. Leapfroggers in our report substantially grow their systems strength by moving to the cloud at scale—gaining computational flexibility and strategic agility as well as access to the technology capabilities of cloud hyperscalers virtually overnight.

I’m excited to update you on this research and look forward to sharing with you more insights from podcasts to come. Find more of our podcasts.


Penelope Prett

Lead – Workday Business Group, Global