Leveraging Global Business Services and Digital Labor

in Advisory, 31.03.2017

The convergence of Global Business Services (GBS), robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning, and advances analytics represent the most disruptive force since the Industrial Revolution. Between now and 2025, up to two-thirds of the $9 trillion knowledge worker market place may be affected.

For background, GBS is a next-generation operational and organizational model for enterprises to deliver business processes such as HR, finance, IT, and customer care to internal and external customers. It’s often applied on a global scale using multiple service delivery models, including outsourcing, shared services and, increasingly, cloud solutions.

Why are organizations considering significant investment in GBS?

Because it can help them:

  • reduce costs
  • get to market faster
  • drive process excellence
  • unlock the power of data and analytics
  • mitigate overall business risk and ensure compliance
  • enable excellence and consistency in the customer experience
  • build an internal repository of high-quality talent
  • establish a consistent brand experience
  • accelerate time to benefit from mergers and acquisitions.

Digital labor – a confluence of capabilities

Digital labor – which today comprises basic RPA, enhanced RPA, and cognitive automation – is enabled by a confluence of capabilities that include rules-based macros, artificial intelligence, and natural-language processing.

Three-level automation model

(click graphic to enlarge)

At the most basic level, robots, or bots, automate the steps in a process instead of having people move transactions from one step to the next. At the most complex level, cognitive systems draw on historical data to handle exception processing, make judgments to resolve customer issues, and complement knowledge workers to provide new insights.

As digital labor can be particularly effective in a GBS environment, KPMG and Outsource/SIG devoted significant time to the topic during our recent GBS Roadmap event in Switzerland, which focused on challenging the role of disruptive technologies.

Indeed, looking at the GBS benefits above, it’s clear there’s significant alignment between the value digital labor can deliver and the expectations of leading GBS organizations.

While digital labor will be disruptive to labor markets and business models, its advancement is inevitable. All organizations should focus on understanding what digital labor can do both today and in the future, and prepare their operations and workforces for their growth and maturation.

Critical questions to consider

As you prepare your enterprise for the significant changes associated with GBS and digital labor, here are some critical questions to consider:

  • How are economic value measures, like working capital or ROI, linked to GBS objectives and delivery by maturity level?
  • How do you separate the hype from the reality when it comes to timelines, providers, offerings, etc.?
  • How do you best reframe your strategy and business model to digitize your business processes, eliminate manual activities and drive greater cost efficiency, responsiveness, and productivity?
  • Do you understand how your governance model will be affected by a move to automation?
  • Are you knowledgeable about the tax and risk implications?

Take strategic and operational action now

GBS and digital labor are here to stay. Businesses that use outsourcing services should begin identifying potential gaps, and taking the strategic and operational steps necessary to ensure continuity of services and, ultimately, that success is achieved as this new model becomes the standard.



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