Creating The Intelligent Enterprise – 4 core pillars and 6 growth opportunities

A summary of key trends identified at SSON’s 16th Annual Australasian Shared Services & Outsourcing Week

A lot can change in a year. Over the last 12 months, SSON’s Australasian operations have witnessed, discussed, and enhanced a Tipping Point in our industry. What’s clear is that shared services and outsourcing in this region is shedding its transactional stereotype and Tipping into an era of smarter services – services which bolster business growth, propel competitive advantage and clearly align with corporate strategy.

It’s not about efficiency anymore. It’s about effectiveness – and this rang true across the 3 days of discussions. Here’s a summary of the facts, learnings, and future trends – also the fun – that came out of SSO Week 2013 in Melbourne.


"Creating The Intelligent Enterprise"

An Intelligent Enterprise is defined as one that can create global effect, has the organisational ability to drive innovation, is always able to connect to all its stakeholders and is prepared to adapt to a constantly changing environment.

In 2013, SSO Week Australasia examined what SSON believe are the 4 pillars of the Intelligent Enterprise to provide you with real life case studies and executable strategies to ensure your SSO stays ahead of game.

So what are these 4 pillars of the Intelligent Enterprise?

1. Creating a Cost Effective Yet Agile Operating Structure

Economic volatility, political cycles, digitalization – all these factors and more require organizations to be ready for any eventuality. Naturally, the operational models we choose have a profound impact on our ability to weather these storms.

Whether it be Global Business Services, hybrid or multi-sourced environments, regional Centres of Excellence, managed services or one of the myriad of other options breaking onto the shared services stage, both new and established SSOs are revisiting their structures to make sure they can bend and flex with the needs of the business, whilst retaining both savings and service levels.

In Melbourne, a range of organisations – from Synergy to Fairfax to Rio Tinto – explained how they are posing themselves the question "what’s right for my business?" and are adapting their operations accordingly.

2. Customer-Focused, End-To-End Process Innovation

Traditionally, we have talked about the customer being internal, and end-to-end being within a set process like Order-To-Cash or within the wider function, like Finance.

However, top quartile SSOs are recognizing that, because the way organizations are interacting with their external customers is changing the more ‘digital’ they become, shared services are more directly involved. What this means: the processes within shared services, having previously been one step removed from the customer experience, are having more and more direct impact on it.

In short, the lines between back and front office and becoming increasingly blurred.

Companies like Procter & Gamble, BT Financial, Genpact, Fife Council and Microsoft took the stage to talk about how they are managing process improvement and innovation in this changing environment, and explained how they are harnessing this change to show a direct correlation between shared services and competitive advantage for the wider business.

3. People, Productivity & Connectivity

People and talent have long been high on the agenda in this industry. In fact, in the multiple surveys SSON has conducted across different markets, ‘talent’ has been consistently ranked as a top 3 challenge by almost every organization.

The people issue is three-fold:

i) Attracting and retaining the right people with the right skills

ii) Exercising the right style of culture and leadership to empower these people to drive the SSO forward

iii) Providing the right platform, tools and new technologies to break down communication silos so as to maximize productivity and progression

Investment in learning and development, the internal brand of the SSO, social media platforms and enterprise mobility initiatives such as ‘Bring Your Own Device’ have come more and more to the fore this year, and are impacting shared services strategies.

Citibank, Deloitte Digital, Orica, Northgate Arinso, NAB and ALS Group all shared their strategies on how they are embracing the latest approaches to the People question as they transition to a more services-based economy.

4. Analytics Capabilities & Big Data

The shift to a more analytical outlook is undoubtedly a major factor in driving forward the value the ‘back office’ can bring to the core business – and it was a hot topic at SSO Week 2013 across all geographies.

The sheer volume of data traveling through SSOs today represents a powerful basis from which to springboard from transactional to value-add services. From reporting and risk mitigation, to hidden savings and product innovations, implementing analytics is enabling us to shift from working harder, to working smarter.

Merck, IBM, Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, SAP were some of the companies disseminating the how’s and why’s of moving to an analytics based operation and explained what SSOs need to consider when taking on Big Data.



As the SSON community evolves, we're investing in driving market segments from newer business units such as PROCUREMENT, IT, CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE, FRONT OFFICE SERVICES (SALES, MARKETING, CUSTOMER SERVICE) and ANALYTICS.

The SSO Week program and content going forward will mirror that of the intelligent enterprise so that all functions forming part of a company's agile operating structure will be covered within the agenda, offering deep dives into each business unit as well as offering an holistic environment for the units to bridge together and discuss the possibilities around end-to-end business transformation and operational effectiveness across the enterprise.


We have no intention of being complacent about our market positioning and instead have invested heavily in 3 projects that, over the next 12 months, will transform SSON practitioners’ customer experience and ensure that you have no need or wish to look elsewhere.

SSON will provide a one-stop-shop for all your business requirements in the space through the following initiatives:

1) Accreditation - SSON is re-launching our already successful training series (SSOPro) into a fully Not For Profit accreditation for the industry - managed independently by an industry figurehead who will provide a framework and oversee input from a committee on contributing practitioners for the online modules.

2) Digital Platform 4.0 - SSON's website is currently under reconstruction to be launched at the end of Q3 offering a totally new range of services to buyers who will be able to access industry data through the site courtesy of our partnerships with trusted Analysts in the market place who will be feeding in regular stats and figures about trends and benchmarking.

This information will be free and will solidify SSON as the unrivalled online go-to site for practitioners. The site will become a daily source of information alongside being the premiere events company in the space.

3) Global Leaders Research Council – SSON are creating a research network for senior peer-to-peer quarterly virtual groups. This will allow even more global connections to develop throughout the SSON community.

More on these initiatives coming soon…. Watch this space!


1. Digital Transformation & Customer Experience:

As end-to-end customer experience and advanced information management continues to infiltrate the shared services and outsourcing world, organisations are removing front/back office silos and reassessing what activities are core/non-core to their business strategy. Many organisations are developing Customer Experience and Transformation Roles at executive level to get to grips with digital disruption. As a result, functions such as Sales & Marketing, Customer Analytics and Risk Management are coming into the SS&O fold. CFOs, CIOs, COOs and CMOs are looking more and more to upskill themselves across each other’s disciplines to ensure a more holistic view of corporate strategy.

2. Analytics Capabilities & Big Data:

Advanced Analytics on both internal and external data is all the rage and was a prominent feature throughout the 3 days of discussions. Whether gearing your team up to become more productive and commercial in feeding information back to the business or auditing your masterdata in preparation for a Big Data technology purchase, one thing is for certain – analytics will be the crux of competitive advantage in the years to come.

3. Specialist Outsourcing Arrangements:

With Australasia finally opening up to outsourcing, specialist services such as KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing), RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) and Call Centres were all hot topics in 2013 and look set to make even more of an impact on the agenda next year.Moreover, Smart Sourcing and Multi-Sourced environments are becoming more commonplace with additional expectations being put on vendors to become true partners for innovation and not simply providers.

4. IT & Procurement:

In 2014, SSO Week Australasia will be following in the footsteps of its US cousin and introducing specialist Sourcing and IT events, which will adjoin the main conference and help further integrate these expanding functions into the SSON Community:

The IT Service Delivery Summit, which will immerses our attendees in discussion around the "New IT Operating Model" – one that supports a global and integrated business services model, brings systems agility in M&A and creates enterprise value. It will help you understand how to take advantage of new delivery alternatives (cloud, selective sourcing and shared services), learn how to offer new services globally, and improve technology leadership and IT investment ROI through innovation and real enterprise governance driven by an engaged business leadership.

The Sourcing and Procurement Summit will focus on unlocking the Value of Procurement Through Shared Services and Outsourcing as well as focusing on procurement transformation. This brand-new event will examine the "New Procurement Operating Model" that creates enterprise value. Take advantage of new delivery alternatives (cloud, selective sourcing and shared services) and learn how to offer new services regionally and globally, improve automation and spend analytics and create real enterprise value through engaged business leadership.

5. Industry Verticalisation:

As the shared services and outsourcing industry continues to mature, SSON along with some of our respected partners have identified an emerging trend – Industry Verticalisation. Traditionally, growth within the industry has been along the functional lines of Finance, HR, IT and Procurement. However, as services become more specialized we are seeing an increasing move towards vertical functions unique to core industries themselves, such as Banking & Finance, Transport & Logistics and Healthcare. In 2014, there will be further networking opportunities centred upon your industry’s specific issues.

6. The Mid-Market:

Making up over 14% of the audience this year, the advent of cloud has pushed down the scalability argument and the benefits of shared services are now being realised by mid-tier organisations who are waking up to the business transformation agenda and savings potential it can bring. There has also been considerable action in mid-tier government, with local councils coming together to share services across states which is set to increase in the coming 12 months and beyond.

Interested in finding out more about the 2014 Australasian event? Contact Ross Clayton on +61 (0) 2 9229 2428, via email on, or through LinkedIn: