The Role of IT in Enabling GBS Success

Stan Lepeak, Global Research Director, KPMG LLP Advisory

KPMG recently released  the results of its global 2Q13 Sourcing Advisory Pulse surveys. These Pulse surveys provide insights into trends and projections in end-user organizations’ usage of global business services (GBS).   A key focus in the 2Q13 edition of the Pulse survey was examining the role of IT in enabling GBS success.  While IT is critical to any GBS basic operations, KPMG finds that often IT is disconnected, underutilized, and misunderstood as component of the GBS program, framework and model.

One key to driving greater GBS maturity is improving the underlying capabilities of IT, both as a collective set of technologies and as the IT group, used to support GBS efforts, and better aligning them with these efforts.  More standardized IT applications and systems enable a more integrated IT environment that is critical to creating more integrated and end-to-end GBS operations across functions, geographies, and business units. Beyond providing core operational services, integrated IT can enable the other key capabilities needed for GBS operations such as providing data analytics required to optimize both GBS and firmwide operations.

KPMG market research into GBS maturity finds that more mature organizations often cite the importance of quality IT capabilities to the success of their GBS efforts. This manifests itself in numerous ways.  In addition to more standardized global IT platforms, the capabilities to exploit emerging IT capabilities, for example with cloud and data analytics, can further GBS capabilities, especially beyond core transactional activities.

The 2Q13 Pulse examined in detail through what means and to what degree both the IT group (see figure 1) and IT as a set of technologies (see Figure 2) can enable GBS success.  The Pulse polled just KPMG member firms’ consultants globally on IT group enabling capabilities and both its consultants and  third party service providers on overall IT capabilities

9209 Fig 1

9209 Fig 2

The area where KPMG consultants felt typical IT groups add the most value to GBS efforts was works closely with GBS and firm executives to define a GBS IT strategy and architecture that maps to and supports the GBS and overall firm business strategy. Ranked nearly the same was provides operational support to GBS operations so they do not need to invest in these resources and capabilities themselves. These two capabilities show both the strategic value (IT strategy and architecture definition) and operational value (providing core IT resources) that IT can, and must, bring to optimize GBS efforts.

When it comes to  how IT as a set of technologies typically acts as a critical enabler to firms’ GBS efforts the top scored capability by both KPMG consultants and third-party service providers that IT provides a largely standardized IT platform that can support integrated GBS efforts across functions, geographies and business units.   Providers also scored IT provides an IT environment that delivers GBS executives and decision makers timely and accurate access to GBS operational data to make informed business decisions at this same level. Provides a robust, secure and accessible means for GBS operations to interface with customers, partners and suppliers also scored well.

While these findings illustrate the range of activities IT groups and IT itself can enable to support improved GBS efforts, the emphasis on deploying a largely standardized platform is arguably the most critical. High performing and highly integrated IT operations and systems are key to enabling the other capabilities cited such as data analytics and access to required operational data as well as maintaining secure and robust between communications between GBS groups and components and third-party partners, suppliers, and customers.   Regardless of the which elements of IT prove most critical to GBS, it is an imperative that CIO, CFO and other firm leaders and enablers of GBS efforts come together – if they have not already – and ensure they are defining, mapping and executing an appropriate IT strategy and architecture to support their collective GBS ambitions.



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