Optimising financial processes

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Global Business Services – Playing Catch Up or Leading the Pack?

I read an interesting report from BCG on the changing role of Global Business Services, “Yielding the Butterfly Effect”.

Some of the elements resonate with recent conversations with Shared Services and GBS leaders around the world, not least;

  • GBS and Shared Services organizations have evolved significantly in the very recent past, repositioning as global talent hubs and leading business transformation.
  • Now more widely recognised as pools of rare talent, rather than just lower cost resourcing.
  • This combines with a new balance of the GBS value proposition, focused on value creation AS WELL as cost reduction. 
  • Clear outcome metrics and KPIs, however, remain a challenge.
  • This new recognition is aligned with discussions, and action, on rapid expansion of the service portfolio.
  • Challenges remain with “ownership” of end-to-end processes and outcomes, but this is a journey.
  • Serving as a Centre of Excellence (CoE) to “optimise and automate”, as well as operate, processes.
  • The successes achieved and agility demonstrated over the pandemic has also catapulted GBS into a key platform of business resilience and continuity.

I always struggle a little with the heavy focus on technology, digital, AI et al in these reports. The use of the term “hyperautomation” is another example of hyperbole. We all understand the need for the technology ecosystem to develop and promote the “market-techture”, but experience and reality encourage us to treat some claims with caution.

The biggest multiplier, as well as restrictor, of the impact of new digital technologies remains human habits, practices and behaviours. It seems slightly counter-intuitive that a greater digital footprint will increase, rather then decrease, the impact of human behaviour on outcomes. But that is a story for another day . . .

While there is clearly great progress being made in digital technologies, the best-in-class are driving “process transformation” with subsequent technology support. This contrasts with many who are still caught in the trap of “technology led transformation”. This typically results in a level of disappointment of equal, but opposite, scale to the level of financial investment applied.

The greatest reminder of this dichotomy is the great Bill Gates quote . . .

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

You can read the BCG report here . . .

It does provide food for thought.

Thanks for reading . . .