Consulting firms demystify digital transformation dark arts

Consulting firms such as BCG & PwC play a key role in business transformation, allowing clients to accelerate growth, reduce cost, or change operationally

Only about 30% of companies navigate a digital transformation successfully. And navigating it in the midst of uncertainty – the new reality – is especially difficult because new behaviours and expectations take shape and evolve at warp speed. 

Enter the role of the technology consultant. Offering services across all areas of business – including HR, marketing, IT, and finance – technology consultants provide a wide range of solutions for enterprises. With technology, consultancy firms advise businesses on how best to use technology to meet their business objectives. In doing so, they play a key role in business transformation, allowing clients to accelerate growth, reduce cost, manage risk, develop talent, or simply just change the way they operate.

The way consulting firms work has changed. Once seen as selling people, time and resources, today consulting firms are embracing technology to help businesses on their digital transformations.

As one consulting firm, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), explains, its approach is focused on building what it describes as bionic companies: organisations that blend digital and human capabilities – and apply them to all aspects of their business.

“To achieve its full potential, technology must be combined with the flexibility, adaptability, and comprehensive experience of humans,” the company explains.

“Many of the elements of bionic companies are well-known: artificial intelligence, digital talent, and platform-based software and services, for example. But the formula for putting them all together is neither immediately evident nor easy to implement.”

Unlocking the value of digital transformation

Putting technology at the core of a business, digital transformation can reduce operating expenses and inefficiencies. According to analysis by Deloitte, the right combination of digital transformation actions can unlock as much as US$1.25tn in additional market capitalisation across Fortune 500 companies. Alternatively, the wrong combinations can erode market value, putting more than US$1.5tn at risk across Fortune 500 companies – demonstrating the importance of strategically approaching digital transformation.

“Digital transformation is continuous; the scale and stakes are, however, ever-increasing. For organisations, finding the inherent value of technology innovations – and not letting it slip away – is crucial to a company’s long-term growth,” says Tim Smith, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Head of Technology Strategy and Business Transformation, Deloitte US. 

“What’s make-or-break for leaders is understanding which moves can bolster and which can erode enterprise value. Connecting digital strategy and action is a proven way for leaders to generate a tremendous return for their stakeholders.”

Partnering with the world’s largest tech companies

Through its open ecosystem of alliances and acquisitions department, which comprises more than 500 external-organisation members and more than 20 acquired companies, consultancy firm McKinsey seamlessly collaborates with cutting-edge technology providers, leading platforms, system integrators, and implementation experts to bring even greater end-to-end impact to organisations at the front lines of change.

“McKinsey’s open ecosystem of alliances and acquisitions provides an unparalleled offering, and it is one important ingredient in our ability to partner with our clients for end-to-end impact,” says Peter Dahlstrom, Senior Partner at McKinsey and Company. “The impact our ecosystem has generated is already compelling – and we are accelerating our journey.”

For example, McKinsey worked with AWS to help a global pizza company develop an ecommerce platform and establish a digital team that increased customer conversion by 40%, customer satisfaction by 15%, and reduced downtime to zero. McKinsey also partnered with Google Cloud to help one of its global logistics clients increase their supply-chain forecasting accuracy, building an advanced analytics platform to better predict order volumes.

And, utilising Microsoft’s IoT platform, McKinsey also helped a wireless equipment manufacturer build a “factory of the future”, delivering a use-case strategy, roadmap, and industrial IoT platform in just 16 weeks.

“By combining our own capabilities with those of our alliances and acquisition partners,” says Liz Ericson, partner at McKinsey, “we know that the expertise we are bringing to clients – whether it’s large-scale data transformations, the latest in technology solutions, or paving the way for a net-zero future – leads to greater impact.”

Another consulting firm, PwC, helps organisations and individuals create the value they are looking for by delivering quality in Assurance, Tax, and Advisory services. With offices in 156 countries and more than 295,000 people, PwC supports a number of global clients and is among the leading professional services networks in the world. 

We complement our expertise with strong partners such as SAP, Microsoft, and Workday,” explains Susanne Arnoldy, a Partner at PwC Germany, responsible for digital and technological transformation at the firm. “Together, we develop technological solutions – always in collaboration with a client. Besides this, we also look to collaborate with specialised tech companies that enable us to automate faster. For example, products from UiPath allow us to build bots, which can take care of recurring administrative processes and systems documentation, for example.”

Digital transformation must be employee-driven

As explained by Arnoldy, when it comes to digital transformation, managers must lead the change by example.

“Otherwise,” she says, “the team will not follow. However, it is just as important to allow everyone their say and accept input for change from members of staff. While, in the past, change was traditionally initiated at a managerial level, this responsibility now essentially falls to everyone in the organisation. Today, leadership encompasses all members of an organisation. This also helps ensure that the transformation never strays too far from the actual business.”

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