Majority of executives surveyed admit their business functions fail to collaborate on digital projects, dragging financial results down
Many companies do not realize the full value of investing in digital projects due to a lack of collaboration among their critical business functions, according to a new study by Accenture (NYSE: ACN). The study found that 75 percent of executives said their departments compete rather than collaborate on digitization, which raises cost and eats up expected revenues gains.
The study, titled “Together Makes Better,” is based on publicly reported financial information as well as a survey of 1,550 senior executives across R&D, Engineering, Production and Supply Chain business functions from mostly manufacturing and industrial companies in February 2020. While fielded before the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic was evident, the research points to trends and issues that the crisis and economic downturn will only exacerbate and provides insights on how to tackle them now, next and in the never normal.
“As companies have grown, they have developed silos – centralized functions and divisions that often focus primarily on their internal needs and inhibit collaboration as a result,” said Nigel Stacey, managing director and global lead for Accenture Industry X.0. “Now that the crisis is speeding up digital transformation, this old ‘walled garden’ problem is rearing its head again. It isn’t just preventing companies from digitizing their businesses as a whole but putting them at risk of slower recovery and stunted growth.”
The cost of cross-function competition
For example, many companies have made redundant investments in certain technologies. This lack of collaboration and alignment across functions has already cost companies. For example:
“When business functions operate in silos while planning or executing digital projects, it stifles innovation and can cause a company to miss opportunities for growth and greater performance,” said Rachael Bartels, senior managing director and global lead for Function Networks and Programs at Accenture. “Leaders across industries are realizing that even without the added challenges of a global crisis, no company can afford a lack of collaboration within their enterprise or between their business functions.”
A small group of companies (22 percent) stands out by how it collaborates internally for higher value from digital. Between 2017 and 2019, these ‘Champions’ achieved significantly better financial results from digitizing their business functions:
An additional analysis after the start of the pandemic has shown that these Champions also weathered the current downturn better than their peers on average stock price performance. This strongly suggests that what these companies do differently increases their competitiveness amid the worsening economic climate. This includes:
“Companies must sustain their digital transformation through the economic downturn,” said Raghav Narsalay, managing director and global research lead for Accenture Industry X.0. “This only works if they commit to cross-function collaboration. Like efficiency and productivity, it’s becoming a critical barometer for success and differentiation in difficult times.”
About the research
The research is based on publicly reported financial information as well as a survey of 1,550 senior executives across R&D, Engineering, Production and Supply Chain business functions. The survey was completed in February 2020 and covers companies with annual sales exceeding $1 billion in 14 different industries and 11 countries. Industries include: Aerospace & Defense, Automotive OES, Automotive OEM, Chemicals, Consumer Goods & Services, High Tech, Industrial Equipment, Life Sciences, Medical Devices & Technology, Metals & Mining, Oil & Gas, Other Natural Resources, Semiconductor, Utilities. Countries include: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom, United States.
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services in strategy and consulting, interactive, technology and operations, with digital capabilities across all of these services. We combine unmatched experience and specialized capabilities across more than 40 industries — powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. With 509,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture brings continuous innovation to help clients improve their performance and create lasting value across their enterprises. Visit us at www.accenture.com.
Accenture Industry X.0 helps businesses master the digital reinvention of industry when they use advanced digital technologies to transform core operations and unlock new revenue streams and business models. We support every aspect of our clients’ multi-phase transformation, including workforce, customer experience, R&D, engineering, manufacturing, business support, and ecosystems.
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