December 11, 2014

Digital Transformation Enables Expansion of Shared Services Model to Non-Traditional Business Functions, Accenture and HfS Research Study Shows

CFOs play a leading role in prioritizing implementation of digital technologies to enhance
shared services operating models

NEW YORK; December 11, 2014 – Extensive use of digital technologies is expected to support the implementation of advanced shared services models across a broader range of business functions over the next several years, new joint research from Accenture and HfS Research shows.

According to the study, Disrupt or be Disrupted: The Impact of Digital Technologies on Business Services, digital technologies, including software-as-a-service (SaaS), big data and analytics, cloud and mobile, are expected to have the largest projected changes in procurement and supply chain management. Forty five percent of respondents expect digital transformation to “extensively impact” advanced shared services models in procurement over the next three years, compared to 18 percent who saw such change in the past three years. In supply chain, 49 percent expect extensive impact compared to 20 percent who reported it the last three years.

Significant increases are also expected in finance and accounting services (40 percent in the next three years vs. 23 percent in the last three); human resources (31 percent vs. 23 percent); and engineering (27 percent vs. 13 percent).

“Many organizations have long used various shared services models to unlock valuable cost savings, improve efficiency and increase productivity across the enterprise,” said Christian Campagna, global managing director, Accenture Strategy, CFO & Enterprise Value. “Our research now shows that savvy organizations are realizing that new digital technologies can propel their use of more advanced integrated services to support unconventional areas, better focus on the external customer and supplier relationships, and enhance their competitiveness.”

Such trends are especially evident in more mature shared services models. These include global business services, which extend the traditional single- or multi-function model to include globally aligned end-to-end processes; and integrated business services, an end-to-end model focused on simplifying the customer experience to achieve better business outcomes.

Digital adoption fueled by need to improve end-to-end integration of internal and external services
Nearly all organizations surveyed agree that one of the leading reasons for adopting digital technologies is the need to improve integration of processes and operations across functional boundaries. Other common drivers include improved productivity, cost reduction and improving competitiveness.

Respondents also widely agree that enterprises that fail to embrace the digital transformation will lose ground to competitors who take a more aggressive approach to digital solutions over the next several years. However, despite recognizing its value, just one in five respondents (19 percent) has a clear strategy in place to manage this digital transformation.

“Forward-thinking organizations are clearly recognizing that digital transformation is not a mere trend or a fad – it represents a critical evolution of new capabilities to boost their competitiveness - and its significance and value cannot be underestimated,” said Phil Fersht, chief executive officer, HfS Research. “The study indicates that many companies that have not yet embraced digital as part of their shared services model are not just failing to keep pace, they are risking being rendered obsolete in the emerging as-a-service economy.”

CFOs take on more technology leadership
CFOs, who have long assumed a leadership position with respect to the prioritization, deployment and management of shared services, are currently playing a strong role in determining which processes are most ready and viable for digital transformation, with 37 percent making the final decision about implementation and another 52 percent providing major input – second only to the CIO (40 percent and 47 percent, respectively).

Yet, while all respondents agree that digital technologies are fundamentally changing the industries in which they operate, nearly one quarter (24 percent) have no plans to put a dedicated senior executive in place to lead their organization’s digital transformation strategy, guide investments, or measure success.

“The CFO’s pivotal position at the intersection of finance, technology and strategy makes him or her uniquely qualified to help the organization unlock the value of the digital revolution and maximize its benefits,” said Campagna. “Our research implies that CFOs will continue to take on more responsibility in guiding the organization’s technology, both as it relates to shared services and on a broader level across the organization.”

The digital talent gap
A majority of enterprises believe that they have the right talent in place to derive benefits from digital technologies. The analysis implies that many organizations plan to train and retool their current employees rather than employing the assistance of third-party experts to implement these new technologies. For example, 67 percent of organizations believe in the capability of their existing teams to enable business growth through analytics, though only 12 percent of organizations feel that their organization’s adoption of analytics and big data is highly mature.

“While the importance of digital technologies justifies the investments in developing skilled staff who understand them and can apply them to business needs, the pace at which they are evolving is increasing the need for many enterprises to rely on outside advisors who focus on these technologies day in and day out,” said Fersht.

About the Research
Disrupt or be Disrupted: The Impact of Digital Technologies on Global Business Services is based on a new global survey of 115 major enterprise buyers, augmented with insight from HfS Research’s own expert network of buyers, advisors, and service providers. The study examines where and how digital technologies are being deployed to improve business operations and outcomes. These issues are explored in the context of the changes enterprises are making across their provision and deployment of shared services, global business services (GBS) and outsourcing.

About Accenture
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 305,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$30.0 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2014. Its home page is

About HfS Research
HfS Research is the leading independent global analyst authority and knowledge community for the business and IT services industry. HfS serves the research and strategy needs of business and IT operations leaders across finance, supply chain, human resources, marketing, customer management, and core industry functions. HfS provides detailed and thoughtful analyst coverage of the various areas that impact successful business outcomes, namely, process automation and outsourcing, global business services frameworks, mobility, analytics, and social collaboration. HfS also focuses heavily on talent acquisition, development, and motivation strategies. HfS applies its acclaimed crowdsourced Blueprint Methodology TM to evaluate the performance of service providers in terms of innovating and then executing against those business outcomes.

Now in its seventh year of publication, HfS Research’s acclaimed blog “Horses for Sources” is widely recognized as the leading destination for unfettered collective insight, research, and open debate about sourcing industry issues and developments. Its home page is

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