Enabling a mobile rank-and-file team can bring additional productivity, but true collaboration in a distributed enterprise starts at the top and filters through back office services too. The effort to change business in every area of a company, from Human Resources to I.T. and even procurement and facilities, can bring huge benefits, but don’t expect that change to come easily or quickly.
Tom Pate, the North America Geographic Services Executive Director at Accenture, outlined a brief case study this morning at our Net:Work conference, illustrating how the company has doubled in size and sales even as back-office operation costs were halved. In the last 10 years Accenture’s revenues jumped from $4 billion to $10 billion while operational costs decreased from $550 million in 2000 to $215 million this year.
Accenture’s model for such results was a multi-wave approach that included not simple reductions in cost, but enabling staff to be collaborative. As Pate said, “The magic wasn’t the cost cutting, the magic happened after we implemented our plans.” Those plans included real estate reduction, tools to work together effectively, and leadership’s understanding that a balance was needed between centralized change and users that want to control of their own devices and tools.
Upgrading from old systems and services are key since new technologies bring new efficiencies. That meant goodbye to AOL Instant Messenger for internal chat and hello to Sharepoint, Office Communicator and even telepresence solutions. And the changes never seem to stop in the case of Accenture: part of the long-term strategy was for employees to understand that the only constant would be change. As a result, the firm continuously evaluates new tools and available services in a never-ending learning process. The beauty of the solution is additional scalability, or the “magic” that Pate referenced, making it far faster to ratchet-up or scale back work as needed.