The most sophisticated, expensive artificial intelligence AI in the world can quickly become ineffective if implemented without the input from the people who would actually be using it, and whether or not they think it would actually improve processes. But getting the right people talking and identifying the actual problems that need to be solved, can be harder than it looks. One Tier 1 financial client came to EY with this problem. It had faced challenges in implementing technological transformations in the past, and so recognized the need for creating the kind of collaborative spaces in which critical questions could be asked — and strategies shaped — before it started building technology into its operations.
The question the client asked was crucial but broad: rather than making incremental improvements, how do we think differently about how the finance function supports the business? In particular, it was looking at how to improve operations across eight distinct finance processes, from financial accounting to book closing, by applying technology in ways which would work to deliver real value. Finding fresh perspectives meant the client needed to bring together the right expertise. For large multinational organizations, these conversations can be hard to create and sustain — teams can be widely distributed around the world, business functions may be highly siloed and individuals may keep varying hours.
Bringing stakeholders together physically — and giving them the tools to succeed — was critical. The EY Consulting and Assurance teams worked together on this project to help create the conditions that allowed the client to have these conversations — bringing our own different perspectives to bear on the project. In wavespace we help clients curate talent and technology, bringing them together in collaboration.
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They are proven to energize and align teams to create meaningful outcomes, faster. Clients can engage with wavespace locations around the world, be hosted in temporary pop-up wavespaces, or have a wavespace installed in their premises — all are designed to help clients interact with ideas, technology and each other, in ways that can lead them to the decisions and creativity that will help them thrive in the transformative age.
Over the course of an eight-week program, wavespace hosted dozens of key stakeholders in over meetings, giving them the perspective and collaborative focus they needed to think about and ask questions about the best ways to transforming their finance operations. At the same time, participants were challenged to work identifying meaningful ways to assess how technology solutions could be applied to their finance processes.
First, the client landed on the Cloud as the most appropriate technology for their needs. Within wavespace, they then started challenging their own assumptions — rightly identifying the fact that the Cloud could not be considered just as a technology play but needed to be understood as a wider platform that could transform the finance function in multiple ways.
The client also identified potential roadblocks. Through dialog with respective stakeholders, they found that if they had focused entirely on the tech, but neglected the process side of the equation, the desired results would not be delivered. EY ensured the wavespace environment provided the frontline finance professionals everything they needed to help design the solution and define the use cases, supported by the IT and Finance Change teams.
Through transparent conversations between different stakeholder groups, practical, effective solutions began to emerge. Through creative collaboration within wavespace, the client not only honed their transformation strategy to a specifically Cloud-based approach — they also developed clearly defined steps that would allow them to pursue real, measurable value. These included:. These tools allowed the client to come up with solutions that led to real, measurable value for its finance function — and the business as a whole. With these new Cloud-enabled processes, they identified the potential to remove the need for manual reconciliations between different systems or data sets.
This could then potentially save significant man-hours — including reducing the time taken to close accounting books from up to 20 days down to four days — freeing up time and resources for more value-adding tasks. Particularly, it demonstrates that grounding any technological agenda in real world, human experiences — rather than hypothetical ideal scenarios — is critical if technology solutions are to be applied in an effective and valuable way.
With the current business landscape utterly changed by the impact of COVID, organizations increasingly need to be able to reimagine how they work in this unchartered environment. More than ever, they will need to reframe how their business models and operations fit into a global economy that continues to experience severe shock as a result of the pandemic. To effectively reinvent themselves during this crisis, organizations will need to embrace transformation to drive growth. By creating the mental space to think through the challenges brought about by COVID — actively seeking different perspectives and challenging assumptions about not just the right paths forward, but also the fundamental issues to be addressed — organizations can ensure they are pursuing strategies that can deliver genuine value.
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