Wednesday 2 September 2020 3:56 pm EY Talk

How managed services can help your business accelerate into the future

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As businesses across the UK pursue economic recovery the ability to think differently is critical. Managed services can be part of the solution.

The health and economic impacts of COVID-19 continue to be felt all over the world. The pandemic has disrupted business-as-usual, with challenges for supply chains, government-mandated shutdowns and changing consumer behaviour. While no-one could have predicted the events of the past six months, traditional business models were already feeling the pressures of a shifting working world:

  • Cost reduction is a priority, as management teams seek to leverage better technologies and improve efficiency 
  • Key functions must do more with less – non-core but board-critical functions such as finance are expected to increase effectiveness without any additional resources
  • Managing regulatory obligations is more complex and costly, as rules change rapidly and regulators demand greater transparency
  • Board demands are on the rise, with tougher expectations around return on investment and performance
  • Keeping ahead of competitors is harder than ever, requiring deeper industry insights, digital tools and data analytics as well as the specialised talent to run them.

COVID-19 has accelerated and exacerbated the effects of these forces. As businesses begin to recover and move into the next and beyond phase, they face an urgent need to do more than just address them more effectively – they must reimagine entirely new solutions.

Counting the true business cost of the crisis

The initial and ongoing focus for all businesses was the health and safety of their people.  However, for many, the real cost beyond that was one of missed opportunity. At the peak of the crisis, senior teams were required to spend most of their time ensuring the business’ plumbing continued to work so that critical functions kept operating and information was valid, credible and timely. This prevented them having time to focus on key strategic decisions that may have helped better navigate the virus’s impact on the business and position for recovery – such as flexing operations, pivoting to offer more relevant products and services or reconsidering investment plans.

Others saw that enforced remote working laid bare the inadequacies of current technology solutions and substandard processes driven by years of postponing investment and multiple manual workarounds. Legacy systems were often simply unable to support remote working, meet customers’ needs to transact online or address growing regulatory demands for transparency and digital reporting.

As companies now look ahead, these lessons make it clear that going back to “normal” is simply not an option. Surviving volatility and succeeding in a post-pandemic world will typically require total business transformation – either to address weaknesses, access new opportunities, or both.

Transformation to run better

Transformation is a term used so frequently in business now that its true meaning can be lost. It’s not about implementing more technology or making some improvements to internal functions – transformation is about reimagining the entire business model to be more resilient and agile.

For many businesses, the path to reinvention is through managed services. Prior to COVID-19, an increasing number of companies were considering moving to a managed services operating model, but the option is now firmly front and centre of many boardroom agendas, because of its ability to enable:

  • Opening the mindset: In periods of volatility, companies that are open to doing new things have tended to fare better. In the recovery period and beyond, this fresh thinking will define successful businesses. Businesses that are ready to let managed services take on those functions that are board-critical but not business-differentiating can free leaders to focus on the innovation that will drive recovery.
  • Reshaping spending: When companies shift major functions such as finance and compliance to managed services, they avoid huge large upfront and fixed capital costs and instead consume services in a flexible, on-demand way. This allows companies to reap cost savings without the same need for major investment.
  • Tapping insights to fuel innovation: Successful transformation will enable faster, better- informed decisions that fuel innovation. Managed services can provide the industry expertise, combined with sophisticated data analytics, that guide the shifts in strategy required for future success.
  • Improving agility: COVID-19’s disruption, particularly across supply chains and infrastructure, has heightened the importance of the need for businesses to adapt fast to change and to have the data to enable them to do so. 
  • Rebuilding confidence: Despite volatile conditions, businesses must not be timid in recovery. History has taught us that most major market share shifts occur after significant crises.  A trusted managed services provider can ensure compliance with changing industry and regulatory obligations, giving leaders the confidence to push forward to access opportunities.
  • Accelerating digital: Many businesses were already enhancing operations with digital tools and capabilities but the changes we are seeing in consumer behaviour underline the urgency of accelerating this shift. Managed services give companies solutions that already include fast, cost-effective access to technologies without the big upfront costs or challenges in building a team with the new skills required.

COVID-19 has changed the working world, possibly forever. Companies that can mitigate the downside of these changes and seize the upside of opportunities to transform can recover stronger, rebuild better and give business leaders the freedom to focus on driving their business forward. Adopting managed services can be a faster, more effective route to transformation – giving businesses access to the tools, talent and insights that will help them make the bold moves that will define success in a very different business landscape.