Are SSCs Not Clear on their Role in Emerging Technologies?



Ankur Bansal
03/05/2019

SSON Analytics Data Shows Shared Services 'Owning' RPA

If the question of who owns the technology innovation hub (including RPA, AI and other emerging technologies) were to be asked, the most likely response would be “First Come, First Serve”.

Whoever in the organization takes the initiative to start the innovation/RPA, in other words, owns it. What this means is that many organizations ultimately end up with multiple silos for such initiatives.

In this context, it’s not surprising to see that Shared Service Centers often do not have a clear strategy or understanding of their role in emerging technologies.

Early RPA implementations started with the assumption that the business could own it, with limited involvement of IT. However this quickly morphed into a realization that the business along with IT owning RPA is the right combination.

In most of my discussions, SSCs are playing a role ranging from policy maker/monitor to owning the factory model of development and support. A sign of an unclear strategy.

It is, therefore, heartening to see SSON Analytics data reflect that a large segment of practitioners think that SSCs are, or should be, taking ownership of RPA.

 

Source: RPA: Tactical Problem-Solving Giving Way to Strategic Transformation

SSCs around the globe can gain significant clues from SSON's survey. They should be developing COEs for innovation and other emerging technologies while working closely with IT and business. As an example, while RPA is primarily business-owned, the SSC can operate a COE that has operational accountability for ROI, tool selection and technology facilitation.

Expanding this to other areas, the SSC can become a hub for testing and piloting new ideas and working with start-up ecosystems.

One of my clients has developed a clear strategy of creating innovation from a COE in the SSC. The key guidelines for the SSC and COE are that they act as a body taking accountability of innovation execution, vendor selection and implementation while working with various business units on ideation and use case selection.


SEE MORE: SSON Analytics Data on Shared Services & Automation


SSON is right, therefore, when it terms RPA a “natural fit” for SSCs. Indeed, Shared Services have been playing a role in driving critical efficiency and productivity gains besides cost reduction. RPA adds another flavor to it.

The survey also reveals that maximum benefit from RPA deployments accrue to process efficiency. Cost reduction is important but not the topmost priority, respondents say.

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Source: RPA: Tactical Problem-Solving Giving Way to Strategic Transformation

The industry needs new metrics to measure SSC’s performance, which was in the past largely measured on ROI related to cost reduction. With the adoption of advanced technologies and SSCs taking up the role of COE, they are going to generate significantly more value – be it productivity, controls or efficiency.

Shared Services have come a long way in the last decade or so but these are turbulent times, and having an unclear strategy around emerging technologies is going to cause problems.

However, those who take the initiative and become a leading hub of innovation are bound to shine.

 

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