Companies worldwide have been searching high and low for efficient solutions to the litany of challenges they’re facing in the post-pandemic business world—data management, transformation processes, talent acquisition and retention, and customer and stakeholder experience mastery among them—and C-suite leaders are becoming convinced that their problem-solving hero has arrived in the form of AI. And they’re most likely right.
New research from Accenture reveals that nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of companies are prioritizing AI over all other digital investments, with an immediate focus on improving operational resilience in this unprecedented environment—and 90 percent of business leaders are applying AI to tackle aspects of resilience, which spans data-driven capabilities, such as finance (89 percent) and suppliers (88 percent), to experimentation with generative AI.
Total enterprise reinvention
The findings from the firm’s latest report, Reinventing Enterprise Operations, assessed organizations across six measures of operational maturity: AI, data, processes, talent, collaboration and stakeholder experiences. While only a few (9 percent) companies achieved maturity on all fronts, those that did averaged 1.4X higher operating margins over peers, while driving 42 percent faster innovation, 34 percent better sustainability and 30 percent higher satisfaction scores.
“All CEOs are under pressure to digitize faster, put more resilience in the business, and find new pathways to growth,” said Yusuf Tayob, group chief executive of Accenture Operations, in a news release. “The right investments in technology while advancing talent, data and processes is what drives a new performance frontier.”
The operations maturity journey
With a talent strategy that mirrors data and digital maturity, enterprises averaged nearly three times (11 percent) higher productivity when prioritizing training and specialized skills to address talent needs. This was further echoed by investments being made in new ways of working (cited by 94 percent) and the 90 percent of COO/CIO/CHRO respondents who plan to increase specialized and technical talent over the next three years.
Top five digital technologies prioritized for future growth:
To fully capture the opportunity, leaders should take these five actions to evolve operations and achieve a new performance frontier:
Humanize AI experiences
Explore new use cases to enhance experience-related outcomes and simplify relationships with employees and customers.
Take a 360° approach
Drive value creation holistically, building it from the ground up and across all functions by using data-driven insights, from customers, employees and other ecosystem partners.
Visualize “as-is” processes, apply AI-driven insights to discover new efficiencies, while simulating scenario changes to optimize business process improvements.
Define a clear strategy that governs how data is created, collected and enriched, encouraging debate and removing biases to capture the most effective insights to guide decision-making.
Create agility within workforce strategy; empower employees with a choice of technology tools to meet needs.
For the report, Accenture surveyed 1,700 executives, 72 percent of whom were C-suite, across 12 countries and 15 industries. The latest research assessed the progression of business operations maturity—each level underpinned by more advanced ways of working with AI, data and cloud—and (where relevant) compared with 2021 findings. The study then combines survey responses with externally validated data across multiple dimensions of value—from financial to experience, sustainability to talent and inclusion and diversity to innovation and agility.