Executives to tech teams: Reinvent us, and make it quick

Recession or no recession, businesses are anxious to digitize, an Accenture study finds. 'Technology used to be the disrupter. Now it's the enabler, a certainty in turbulent times.'
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer
A woman touching a futuristic digital display.
Oscar Wong/Getty

If you think that any slump in the economy that occurs over the coming year will translate to a slump in technology workloads, think again. 

In a new survey (PDF) from Accenture, 73% of executives said if there was a recession, their organizations would accelerate their "total enterprise reinvention" strategies. 

As one can probably guess, any "total enterprise reinvention" has technology written all over it. This only could mean a lot of work ahead for technology managers and professionals, with business leaders leaning on them even harder to deliver the transformation these leaders so desperately crave. It means cloudifying, automating, and injecting intelligence into business processes.

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So what does "total enterprise reinvention" translate to in business-speak? "Centered around a strong digital core, it helps drive growth and optimize operations," the report's authors, led by Julie Sweet, chair and CEO of Accenture, explains. This means reinventing and bringing together three levels of technical initiatives:

  • Infrastructure and security layer: "A modern, cloud-based IT foundation that is automated, agile, and secure by design."
  • Data and AI layer: "AI-enabled applications and platforms generating insights for decision-making." 
  • Applications and platforms layer: "Where new experiences and ways of operating come alive -- through modernized and new, custom applications and platforms or replatforming on SaaS."

There is a strong business case to be made for "interoperability" across all of these layers, Accenture found. "Companies with high interoperability grew revenue 6x faster than their peers with low interoperability and unlocked an additional five percentage points in annual revenue growth."

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Most companies aren't quite there yet. Only 8 percent could be considered to be "reinvented" along these lines, the survey of 1,516 enterprises shows. The rest are at various stages in their technology-driven reinvention efforts, but almost all recognize they need to get up to speed. "Technology used to be the disrupter," Sweet and her colleagues point out. "Now it's the enabler, a certainty in turbulent times." 

Along these lines, a majority of companies at the forefront of reinvention intend to invest in or are keen on a range of cutting-edge technologies, including the following:

  • Next-gen computation 65%
  • Next-gen intelligence 64%
  • Cloud services 61% 
  • AI and automation 59%
  • Metaverse and Web 3.0 48%  
  • Network/connectivity 42%

Commitment across key enterprise areas is ramping up. Much of the technology investment being made is going toward innovation -- with research and development seeing the greatest rise in tech investments. Human resources is also expected to be a greater recipient of technology-driven reinvention initiatives. IT itself will see more emphasis on cloudifying, automating, and adding intelligence to operations:

  • Research & development (+36% increase in spending over the next two years)
  • Human resources +35%
  • Core operations +33%
  • Information Technology +32%
  • Marketing +31%
  • Finance +30%
  • Manufacturing +30%
  • Strategy and M&A +30%
  • Sales +28%
  • Customer Service +27%
  • Supply Chain +29%

The digital core has become "a primary source of competitive advantage," Sweet and her co-authors observe. "To thrive in this world, companies need a strong digital core that will serve as the foundation for reinvention. The integrated operating model and new ways of working are underpinned by an integrated, enterprise-wide technology and data platform that democratizes data across the enterprise. The flow of data provides connections between teams across the networked organization, enabling the sharing of ideas and insights."

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