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'Future-ready' companies could unlock $5.4 tn in growth with effective digital strategy

Mon 15 Feb 2021

Organisations across the world could potentially unlock a combined US$5.4 trillion in profitable growth if they apply an effective digital adoption strategy, according to new research from Accenture.

The report draws a link between business operations maturity and the degree to which businesses are ‘digitally capable’: those with high maturity have greater capability to deploy beneficial emerging technologies, such as AI, cloud and data analytics.

High-maturity organisations also have the virtue of being ‘future-ready’, according to Accenture; even amid the current economic uncertainty, a small core of companies —about 7%—have achieved nearly twice the efficiency and three times the profitability of peers. 

These companies have doubled-down on digital transformation and retooled operating models, pivoting from incremental improvements to wholesale reinvention.

“Uncertainty has also put a premium on new, agile ways of doing things, reinforcing the idea that operations can be a catalyst for competitive advantage, transformational value and growth,” says Accenture New Zealand technology lead Paul Hearnden.

“But this only works if companies think big— transforming how the work actually gets done across technology, processes and people.”
 

Achieving future-readiness

Accenture says there are several critical areas of focus for ‘future-ready’ companies, which can bolster agile workforce models. They include:

Cloud: 90% of future-ready organisations — versus 76% of other organisations — use cloud infrastructure at scale, and 78% are also exploring new areas to scale and maximise value.

Machine intelligence: 71% of future-ready organisations have fully adopted AI and data science capabilities — an 18-fold increase from just 4% three years ago — and 38% now scale AI practices, compared with only 3% of other organisations. That number is growing, with 63% of future-ready organisations expected to scale AI practices by 2023.

Automate at scale: Two-thirds (67%) of future-ready organisations have adopted end-to-end digital processes, and 58% continue to scale leading practices, compared with 32% and 6%, respectively, of other organisations. Four-fifths (82%) are expected to scale leading practices by 2023.

Smarter data: Future-ready organisations are more than ten times as likely as other organisations (52% vs 5%) to use analytics at scale—paired with better, more diverse data sets (45% vs 6%)— to generate actionable insights and inform decision-making. Three-quarters (75%) are expected to use analytics with diverse data by 2023.

Agile workforce: One-third (34%) of future-ready organisations have adopted an agile workforce strategy at scale, compared with just 4% of other organisations, enabling them to tap into an expanded talent pool among ecosystem partners to mobilise special talent as needed.  Accenture estimates 71% will adopt an agile workforce strategy by 2023.
 
“Future-ready organisations know that it’s about maximising talent in an era when people are critical to success,” says Hearnden.

“They’re harnessing change by retooling operating models in ways that capitalise on human ingenuity and machine intelligence to transform the way people work and the business performs.”

While some industries tend to be more ‘future-ready’ than others, Accenture says the pandemic-induced pivot to digital transformation has forced many other sectors to pick up the slack.

The automotive, insurance and banking industries, in particular, are forecast to ‘leap ahead’ by 2023, and are expected to then emerge as front-runners in future-readiness. 

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