Intelligent Operations, Real-Time Decision Making and the Business of the Future

Businesses should embrace real-time, insight-led decision making and what Accenture is calling “Intelligent Operations” if they are to be fit for the future. This was the conclusion of a new research study that Accenture undertook with services research specialist HfS[1]. The reason is that the pace and scale of change have accelerated to such an extent that businesses that fail to transform their operations and processes will struggle to keep up. Today, business agility is a key driver of success and one that no business can afford to ignore.

What’s driving change?

The numbers from the research are stark and serve to highlight just how important operational changes are for businesses across all industries of all sizes. In fact, the research suggests that the move to Intelligent Operations is fast becoming a make-or-break proposition for organizations, with 80 percent of respondents saying they are concerned with disruption and competitive threats, especially from new digitally savvy market entrants.

Data holds the key to addressing these threats. When collected and analyzed in the right way, data can yield new insights for unlocking efficiency and innovation. However, the report reveals that most organizations are currently unable to make data-driven decisions due to a paucity of skills and the lack of technology to properly manage the vast amounts of diverse data they encounter. For nearly 80 percent of organizations in the survey, 50 to 90 percent of data is reported as unstructured and largely inaccessible.

The report goes on to suggest that these inefficiencies are exacerbated by poor integration between the back, middle, and front offices within many enterprises. In fact, half of the organizations we spoke to reported that their back office is not keeping pace with front office requirements to support digital capabilities and meet evolving customer expectations.

In some respects, these challenges are all just different facets of the same problem: how organizations can seamlessly source, onboard, integrate, and use high volumes of structured and unstructured data across their organization. Businesses that solve this challenge will be best placed to create compelling customer experiences, effortlessly adjust to change, and operate efficiently.

Five steps to Intelligent Operations

This is where Intelligent Operations come into play. Intelligent Operations combine new advances in technology with process innovation and a solid focus on talent. Businesses that embed Intelligent Operations will become agile by design with the ability to draw on real-time processes, human ingenuity, and data to realize exceptional customer experiences and business outcomes. They will be able to pivot on a dime and make the very best decision each time to drive efficiency, innovation, and, ultimately, growth.

We have built a list of five initial steps for getting to Intelligent Operations:

  1. Transform your talent strategy: Soon, businesses will need access to a new mix of talent including designers, digital technicians, business process experts, and industry specialists. Organizations should review their talent strategies in the light of this need. A good place to start is by running trials of more agile talent sourcing models that draw on the growing pool of freelance and contract labor. These models allow enterprises to flex their workforce in-line with market demand and provide access to scarce but essential skills. Businesses should also review their internal training strategies to ensure that workers are being given new skills aligned with business requirements.
  2. Invest in a data-driven backbone: Capturing the “exhaust” data from business processes to inform current performance and improve future operations is essential. Enterprises need to collect, store, process, deploy, and monetize diverse data sets. Our research found that over 85 percent of enterprises are developing a strategy around data aggregation, data lakes, or data curation as well as mechanisms for turning data into insights and then actions—these organizations will forge ahead of the competition.
  3. Invest in automation, analytics, and AI: Applied Intelligence is the intersection of automation, analytics, and AI. These emerging technologies are the future, and soon no business will be able to succeed without them. In our research, nearly 90 percent of the businesses we spoke to believe that Applied Intelligence will be fundamentally important for transforming their operations. Enterprises must put data at the core of what they do and leverage the full spectrum of Applied Intelligence to unlock unique insights and operational efficiencies. This human-machine capability is required to drive innovation. The sooner businesses start experimenting with their data, the sooner they will be able to realize significant value from these technologies.
  4. Embrace the cloud: With market uncertainty stronger than ever, operational agility gives businesses the ability to respond rapidly and get ahead of competitors. Today, a robust ecosystem of cloud solutions provides businesses with the highest levels of agility at the lowest cost points. Through the cloud, businesses can accelerate innovation, lower IT costs, and enable the agility and scalability needed to react to change, dialling resources up and down to match market requirements.
  5. Establish smart partnerships: An increasingly important way for businesses to increase innovation is through connected ecosystems of partners that co-create, collaborate, and share. In these ecosystems, partners can pull from a wide set of capabilities and resources to support near-term innovation objectives. This broad ecosystem is made possible through shared platforms with tech providers, start-ups, universities, suppliers, distributors, and product companies. As a first step, organizations should look at their existing ecosystem and consider whether any of these relationships can deliver more value through closer collaboration. Businesses should also identify gaps in their capabilities and then weigh whether these can be best solved through in-house development or by collaborating with a new partner.

If an organization has not made progress on one or all of these steps, the time to act is now. The cost of doing nothing is extreme: businesses that fail to adopt Intelligent Operations will struggle to enhance the customer experience, drive a competitive edge, and increase productivity. On the other hand, businesses that immediately invest in a more strategic, data-driven approach to their operations and processes stand to win it all.

Click here to download Accenture and HfS Research’s Intelligent Operations report. A&G

[1]. See More. Do More. Be More. The Future Belongs to Intelligent Operations, Accenture/HfS, 2018


About Debbie Polishook 1 Article
Debbie Polishook is group chief executive of Accenture Operations. In this role, she oversees Accenture's comprehensive portfolio of business process services as well as infrastructure and cloud services, including the Accenture Cloud Platform.