4 Ways Professional Services Firms Can Reap Digital Dividends, As We Move Beyond Digital Business Transformation

Posted by Neil Davidson on January 16, 2018

Digital Business Transformation

Digital business transformation has created a disruptive but important period of transition for the professional services industry. In its momentum, it has advanced some firms, displaced others and promised such enormous dividends that organisations no longer want to be left behind. Professional Services firms previously questioning enactment are now embedding digital into every area of their business with the likes of Cloud-hosted technologies no longer a nice to have, but de rigueur.

However, whilst the scale and pace of digital transformation remains drastic, so too does competition, as well as the demand from customers and employees for a new type of experience. All of these forces are culminating in an on-going struggle to translate inflows into margin improvement and revenue gains.

Against this backdrop, many Professional Services firms like yourselves will be looking at how to improve shareholder value and be in a healthier position than your competitors. This might involve reimagining the way in which you deliver to clients or reinventing a more dynamic business model to gain market share.

As digital becomes less disruptive and more rooted we discuss what’s beyond digital transformation, and how organisations such as yours can achieve those elusive digital dividends and drive money into the business as you had originally hoped too. By:

  1. Innovating intelligently through informed decision making 
  2. Building a long-term focus 
  3. Streamlining technology 
  4. Embracing the new generation change coalition


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1. Innovating Intelligently

Digital Transformation Framework

In the wake of adapting to the pressure of digital business transformation, there has come a desire for Professional Services firms to diversify revenue streams to drive more money back into the business. Firms are redefining ‘how’ and ‘what’ they deliver to clients; for example engineering firms replacing people with drones to do building surveys. The desire to go global and consideration to move off-shore vs on-shore shows pressure is rising for the biggest firms to significantly change the way they do business. At a certain point however diversification becomes unsustainable especially if an organisation starts to lose market share. And perhaps unlocking competitive returns is a challenge you face within your own organisation?

We believe that you must have absolute clarity on ‘where’ and ‘how’ you choose to play and what differentiated activity means to your clients. Project margins will remain critical to finding the most attractive profit pools versus those showing signs of slowing. This requires a laser focus on margins and deep commitment to making knowledge accessible for agile, real-time decision making. Having full transparency and forward visibility means decisions to scale or retract can be anticipated and driven by the organisation instead of being made under severe pressure.

2. Building A Long Term Focus

Long Term Focus

Secondly, the shift to Cloud is driving an increase in opex since it’s an on-going programme that requires a long-term focus. In light of this, a new, more dynamic business model will be critical if Professional Services firms want to create winning customer experiences. Our recommendation will always be to connect this new digital business model with user experience, increased efficiency in customer experience, and organisational agility, to reap the dividends of your digital transformation.

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3. Streamlining Technology

Thirdly the emphasis on any technology adoption should be to facilitate need and not for adoptions sake. In fact we often advocate allowing room for what’s been done in the past if it acts as a true competitive differentiator. Simplification should always frame organisational strategy. For example using a single integrated solution globally, that allows firms a deeply secure but internally borderless environment in which to operate. This will ensure optimal precision, speed and flexibility to eliminate internal complexities.


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4. Embrace The New Technology Change Coalition

Change Management 2018

Finally it’s very much about how people frame your organisation. Intensity should be given toward building a new generation of digital-savvy leadership teams that have a strong vision of the future, who are not wedded to the past. The key to success is the organisation and not one individual, therefore maximising employee exposure to new technologies and ensuring they make the most of your digital transformation will allow you to keep ahead of the competition. For example 2017’s global design awards saw 8 out of 10 awards won by Chinese firms because they have been quick to adopt technology that allowed outstanding design, in record time to market, with no people barriers holding back progress.

A Change In Thinking For 2018...

There needs to be a shift in the way we perceive what’s to come post digital transformation. This is because technology such as Cloud, IoT or AI as important as they are, must be balanced with organisational need, reimagining and creating a more dynamic business model and empowering your people.

If you have a leadership team that comprises of visionaries who can both scale the business and strategise for a digital reality, with access to agile, transparent real time information, you will be better placed to anticipate organisational and client needs.

And ultimately whether the adoption of digital technologies has engaged the customer will show in areas that have achieved profitable growth and greater market share. As an organisation, the best we can do is work towards making it as impressive as we had hoped when the digital journey began.


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