Deliver value through GBS experiences

  • IT Management
  • Solutions
  • 2023
  • Cara Herrick
August 22, 2023

Man and woman looking at computer screen in an office

What began with siloed shared services models—which consolidated a single business function’s scattered processes into one cohesive structure—has evolved over the past decade into integrated global business services (GBS) that seek to transform internal and external operations at scale.

The GBS model remains a work in progress, according to GBS experts in a ServiceNow-commissioned white paper by Deborah Kops. Although GBS has focused primarily on driving efficiencies and reducing costs, integrated, end-to-end process orchestration and the delivery of simple, unified GBS experiences pose a significant opportunity.

The need for enhanced experiences

With SSON Research and Analytics expecting “to see continued and significant adoption and expansion of the [GBS] model,”1 it’s time to evolve and enhance GBS customer experiences, global leaders say. Customers want fast, frictionless, and around-the-clock service that parallels their experience with e-commerce platforms.

In the past, delivering consumer-grade service would have required immense overhead in the form of dedicated resources and manual effort. But with technology and AI as critical enablers, delivering consumer-grade service is possible. It’s the next frontier for GBS.

“Buying something online, it's so easy and efficient,” explains Paul Dottle, vice president of GBS and operations for General Mills. “But if I’m ordering something inside my company, it's antiquated and kluge.”

Historically, optimizing the user experience has been a low priority due to the lack of a direct return on investment. But global functions such as HR and IT have shown the benefits of improving customer experiences through deflection and reduced cycle times.

As a result, it’s becoming easier to make the business case for extending a consistent experience across the global services model. Here are some ways to do that.


With technology and AI as critical enablers, delivering consumer-grade service is possible. It’s the next frontier for GBS.

Use business context as a hook

It’s no secret that the pandemic altered the relationship between employees and employers. Hybrid work has established new means of communicating and new expectations around digital transformation. Consumer experiences have changed expectations on the job. Global workforces are proving the benefits of unifying interactions across all services.

At the same time, GBS organizations have already wrung out substantial savings through standardization, consolidation, and digitization. The next round of savings will come from expanding self-service capabilities, sharing the workload with users, and aligning processes across departments. Designing with frictionless experiences in mind will be critical to this transition.

Leaders who harness broad business and industry dynamics and momentum and establish a link between cost control and enhanced experiences will more readily advance GBS transformation initiatives.

Define a vision the business can get behind

GBS leaders say creating an unassailable North Star establishes GBS experience as an operation’s “brand”—the essence of its value proposition.

Rich Dobbs, vice president of GBS for Kimberly-Clark, looks to experience to change the way GBS interacts across the organization, redefining its ecosystem.

“The GBS brand is equal to experience,” he says. “Experience changes communication from random to structured. Experience creates the impression that GBS is the enabler of the business.”

GBS experience pioneers say a clear vision forms the basis for a powerful rallying cry. By identifying pain points, waste, and benefits across the organization, GBS can attract new advocates who can bear witness to its contributions.

Sell it in

Enterprises that already have a culture of selling an experience, as opposed to a product, are more likely to invest in advancing experience-led transformation. Barring that, however, GBS organizations can harness process dysfunctions to sell the need for change.

Global services leaders should show how inefficient processes interfere with other corporate objectives (employee productivity, cash flow, vendor onboarding, etc.), highlighting expected return on investment.

Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to garnering support for GBS experience transformation, so it’s important to start with high-impact, achievable use cases and carefully manage stakeholders’ expectations.


The GBS experience changes expectations and fosters new ways of working, creating a new paradigm for GBS value.

Learn from leaders

GBS leaders stress the importance of being realistic about the extent of change required. New tech by itself is not a silver bullet. Instead, behaviors must change.

Collaboration with stakeholders across the enterprise is key. As with any other transformation program, all players must share a deep understanding of the problem statement and North Star. That means quantifying the current state of waste and focusing on rewiring experience and process, supported by unifying technology solutions.

The finance department will be both your greatest skeptic and your best friend. Soft benefits from improved experiences may be hard for number crunchers to accept. Leaders advise making a bottom-line argument from the start—including the cost of doing nothing. They encourage focusing on use cases that alleviate pain points with easily quantifiable cost savings.

Assembling the right team to support the vision is imperative. Ensure that roles, responsibilities, and decision rights are clear across the board. This is an evolution, not a one-and-done proposition. Business conditions as well as GBS scope and scale shift over time, so maintain structured reviews and frameworks that can help prioritize use cases as demand grows.

In the end, the GBS experience changes expectations and fosters new ways of working, creating a new paradigm for GBS value.

Get more insights in the white paper: Service experience: The next value driver for global business services.

1 SSON, The State of the Shared Services & Outsourcing Industry Global Market Report 2023

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