The time to invest in digital innovation is now

ARTICLE | May 3, 2023

The time to invest in digital innovation is now

Organizations that boldly pursue transformation in the face of uncertainty will come out ahead

By Dave Kanter, Workflow contributor

Savvy leaders know that boldly investing in digital transformation is a smart move in an uncertain business climate. They recognize unpredictable economic forces as a golden opportunity to embrace change—to reinvigorate the business with technologies that simplify and buoy operations in rough waters and prepare the organization for new opportunities when the storm clears.

The fact is technology, as part of the overall enterprise landscape, has evolved well past its antiquated perception as a cost center. Today, cloud, data, and AI strategically drive business growth. It’s a strategy we at Accenture are calling “Total Enterprise Reinvention,” and we see it as vital to achieving long-range business success. Yet, our research has found surprisingly few top executives currently follow such a strategy.

In an Accenture report, Total Enterprise Reinvention, released at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Accenture describes how only a handful of the 1,516 C-suite executives surveyed have adopted a total enterprise reinvention strategy. Centered on a strong digital core and powered by advancements in AI and cloud computing, this strategy sets new performance frontiers across the enterprise to optimize operations, drive growth, and encourage new ways of working.

Reinvention means that IT has become central to driving down costs, identifying operating efficiencies, enhancing productivity, reimagining ways of working, and ensuring business resiliency both during economic downturns and through renewed periods of economic growth.


Top leadership priorities in 2023

While IT spending in 2020 focused on supporting remote work, that spend has shifted to core modernization efforts such as automation that collectively can create this platform for enterprise reinvention.

Spending in 2023 is expected to focus on the cloud, software as a service, data centers, software, and IT services. In an era in which consumers rely on technology to interact with organizations both before and after a purchase, companies that enhance the digital experience will take the lead.

Moving to the cloud as part of a digital transformation reduces costs from the start. Nearly two-thirds of respondents to Accenture’s recent global survey of 4,000 business and IT leaders saw an average of 10 percent in savings from the move. Continued digital engagement builds on those initial savings as the cloud evolves into a tool for innovation and reinvention.


The transition to becoming a truly digital organization reduces operating expenditures and increases productivity, freeing up dollars that can be reinvested in the business. Rather than being concerned about justifying continued IT investment, executives need to exert a different kind of discipline on spending to accelerate their digital transformation. An integrated automation platform can reap savings today while streamlining the processes that are critical to success in the future.

A hybrid workplace can be a keystone in this reinvented enterprise. To enable new ways of working, automation can reinvent how real estate is used, creating hoteling systems to support dynamic face-to-face interactions instead of static offices and cubicles. Collaboration technology and business services must be always on regardless of location—office, home, or any remote site. Each of these areas fosters an ongoing return on productivity. Automation, for instance, can reduce manual labor while increasing employee satisfaction. Accenture’s research indicates that more than three-quarters of a U.S. worker’s tasks could be reinvented by combining new technologies and new ways of working to automate tasks while augmenting high-value activities.

In fact, our research shows that 75% of executives say that the pace of their organizations’ reinvention will accelerate despite economic shockwaves.

Imagine the power of freeing up just one hour each day per employee, creating new opportunities across the board. And that applies to new hires as well. Consider the possibilities of deploying automation to reduce a six- to eight-month onboarding process to three months—with the same level of performance at its conclusion. 

Beyond productivity, digital transformation contributes directly to creating a resilient, always-on framework. It’s not just making sure cloud services are always available. Integrating hundreds of data sources across the cloud continuum sheds light on security vulnerabilities. Having a unified, interoperable platform involves maintaining the same resiliency and standards across both modern and legacy environments. An added bonus is being able to pay down the technical debt inherent to maintaining those legacy systems. 

Today’s companies must respond to uncertainty as it’s happening. By compressing their transformation from years to months (or even days) and transforming multiple parts of the business simultaneously, companies can overcome obstacles and embrace opportunities. This can happen only when everything is integrated and interoperable across the enterprise—from the diverse technologies that power business to employees at every level. 

Leaders who see uncertainty as an opportunity to become more efficient will emerge from it in full stride, embracing automation’s contribution to creating an entirely new performance frontier through enterprise reinvention. 


The self-optimizing enterprise

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Dave Kanter

Dave Kanter leads the Accenture ServiceNow Business Group

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