The pandemic-driven acceleration of digital adoption and the resulting new, agile ways of operating could unlock $200 billion in profitable growth in Canada if applied broadly, according to a new report by Accenture (NYSE: ACN).
Based on a global survey of 1,100 top executives and externally validated financial data, the report assessed the impact of achieving progressive levels of business operations maturity. The higher the maturity, the greater the degree of digital capabilities, such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and data analytics.
Accenture’s findings indicate that even amid the current economic uncertainty, a small core of companies globally—about 7%—still achieved nearly twice the efficiency and three times the profitability of peers. These “future-ready” entities are expected to represent 20% of Canadian organizations by 2023 — a five-fold increase from just 4% today.
“Uncertainty has put a premium on new, agile ways of doing things, reinforcing the idea that operations can be a catalyst for competitive advantage, transformational value and growth,” said Manish Sharma, group chief executive of Accenture Operations. “But this only works if companies think big — transforming how the work actually gets done across technology, processes and people.”
Rodney Bergman, who leads Accenture Operations in Canada, added, “Future-ready organizations know that it’s about maximizing talent in an era when people are critical to success. They’re harnessing change by retooling operating models in ways that capitalize on human ingenuity and machine intelligence to transform the way people work and the business performs.”
Future-Readiness in Canada
Future-ready enterprises transform how work gets done by using rich data for decision-making, augmenting people with artificial intelligence (AI) and employing agile workforce models. The survey, which included 50 companies headquartered in Canada, identified organizations’ growing levels of digital and operational maturity. The areas of focus include:
- Cloud: Four in five organizations (82%) in Canada use cloud infrastructure at scale, and 64% are also exploring new areas to scale and maximize value.
- Machine Intelligence: With a focus on augmenting people with technology, 52% of Canadian organizations have fully adopted AI and data science capabilities — a nearly 13-fold increase from just 4% three years ago — and 30% of organizations plan to scale AI practices by 2023.
- Automate at Scale: Only 6% of organizations have achieved automation maturity. A third (34%) expect to do so by 2023.
- Smarter Data: One in five organizations (18%) in Canada use analytics at scale—paired with better, more diverse data—to generate actionable insights and inform decision-making. That is expected to grow to 40% by 2023.
- Agile Workforce: Only 10% of organizations have adopted an agile workforce strategy at scale, enabling them to tap into an expanded talent pool among ecosystem partners to mobilize special talent as needed. That is expected to grow to 28% by 2023.
By assessing what Accenture calls “transformational value” — a concept that factors in financial performance and the differentiated experience delivered — the research found progressing to future-ready achieved average efficiency gains of 13.1% and lift profitability by 6.4%.
In Canada, organizations that advanced operational maturity level in the past three years reported improvements in customer experience (cited by 78%), speed of product and services innovation (72%), operational efficiency (71%), business value generated from data (70%), employee engagement and retention (56%) and employee talent mix and reskilling efforts (50%).
Accenture surveyed 1,100 senior-level executives worldwide, 44% of whom were C-suite executives, across 13 industries and 11 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom, United States). The research, conducted in 2020, assessed four levels of business operations maturity — stable, efficient, predictive and future-ready — with each level underpinned by progressing digital capabilities, such as AI, cloud, and data. The business impact was assessed by combining survey responses with externally validated financial data from 810 of the 1,100 organizations surveyed.