Google platform gaining ground in Professional Services Automation

30 July 2018 Consultancy.uk

Fast changing professional services businesses are increasingly reaping the benefits of agile platforms which enable rapid exchanges between different layers of their organisations. A new report shows how the booming Professional Services Automation field is transforming the industry as a whole, with Google’s innovative PSA partners such as VOGSY quickly positioning themselves to lead the market.

The rapidly shifting nature of 21st century business means that while money might still make the world go round, knowledge and information hold a greater level of currency for the economy than ever before. As the forces of digital disruption strike every industry, leadership teams are more dependent than ever before on the quick dissemination of the latest intelligence, to provide insights and analytics which can provide the edge on a growing number of competitors. In the professional services (PS) landscape, real-time information has subsequently taken center stage, as firms look not only to increase their own productivity, but that of their clients, in order to achieve higher levels of growth and profitability.

As technologically driven agility becomes a key tenet of the professional services industry, the primary mode of work has shifted to become increasingly based on virtual project teams, which can be rapidly assembled and brought up to speed in order to produce measurable business outcomes. Improved mobility and real time information are therefore important, although its potential is wasted without good management to tie it together. According to a new report from Service Performance Insight (SPI), taking a structured and standardised approach to resource management and project delivery reduces overruns and improves quality, enhancing value realisation in the process, something which new generation ERP solutions can better help provide.

Against the backdrop of quick-fire change that is transforming the face of the consulting industry, the role of professional services automation (PSA) has fast become crucial within internal operations. Competition is heating up, putting pressure on margins, clients are demanding more and more transparency and risk-sharing models, and a new generation of consultants are changing the nature of engagement staffing and career trajectories, among others. In response to these changing needs, smart technology can help firms to provide better project management, insights, collaboration between consultants on projects and alignment on financials.

Google platform gaining ground in Professional Services Automation

Professional Services Automation

Professional Services Automation has been around for well over a decade now, yet with the rise of innovative technologies new avenues for more cost-efficient and effective solutions have rapidly opened up. PSA provides organisations with a solution to efficiently plan, sell, staff, execute and charge for work, with several PSAs tailored to the needs of project-driven businesses, such as consultancies, available on the market.

PSA helps consulting firms build in a cycle of constant improvement to their engagement portfolio and organisation. It can help firms plan, creating strategies rapidly by analysing previous projects and determining what likely capital requirements are likely to be needed, and support building a market plan relating to profit margin targets and a talent pool, enabling firms to maximise profits while adjusting pricing for continued efforts.

PSA can subsequently deliver a boost to the staffing of projects, providing project managers with insights on what kind of talent they need to staff to provide the optimal delivery. Then, the actual delivery of a project can also gain a shot in the arm, as PSA helps to build in quality checks in order to deliver work on-time and on-budget, while keeping track of time costs, before finally a professional services firm can gear the technology toward collection, monitoring invoices and analysing the financial performance of a project – feeding all this information into the start of future planning.

According to SPI’s report, PSA has proven itself in the marketplace, driving a number of key performance indicators. The researchers found that firms using PSA enjoyed a year-on-year change in growth 74% larger than firms without PSA. On top of this, PSA-leveraging companies saw their new client intake stand 40% higher than their peers, and a headcount growth 39% higher than their competitors – a major factor for growth amid heating competition for a shrinking talent pool thanks to ageing populations in the Western world. As a result, PSA also saw those using it enjoy a project margin 21% higher than those without it.

Thanks to the mounting evidence in support of the gains yielded by PSAs, there are a growing number of platforms emerging looking to tap into heightened demand. These range from large providers to small players, including the likes of ERP-giants Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.

However, these providers are facing stiff competition from challengers that are for instance building PSA functionality on Google infrastructure, which itself is eyeing to edge its way into the burgeoning market. Google Analytics and AdWords saw a revolution in the advertising industry, Google G Suite is now performing a similar feat in the world of business, and now the US tech giant is broadening its wings to facilitate IT services for project-based businesses.

Commenting on Google’s ascendency, Jeanne Urich, a Managing Director at SPI, said, “Google is well-established and admired as a leader in search and analytics. It is now positioned as a leading platform for the business application community.”

“Google is well-established and admired as a leader in search and analytics. It is now positioned as a leading platform for the business application community.”
– Service Performance Insight

VOGSY

While Google’s G Suite platform continues to evolve, SPI’s researchers concede that there are not many “complete” PSA platforms available on the infrastructure, yet, the white paper also contends that VOGSY has emerged as the leading PSA solution on the Google platform. As such, the study goes as far as to conclude VOGSY has become a platform executives should seriously consider in both project and services-driven organisations if they want flexibility and security at an extremely attractive cost.

Launched in late 2016, VOGSY is a mobile first PSA business platform for the professional services industry running on Google technology. The platform is targeted at mid-market players, and aims at optimising the way consulting, marketing and technology firms manage projects. By leveraging a social media interface for easy on-the-go business interactions, VOGSY’s ‘holy grail’ in development was to find a way to simplify business processes to the point where there was no longer a delay in handover between team members.

Speaking to Consultancy.uk in 2017, the chief architect of VOGSY’s UX interface, commented that while he believed the platform represents a major leap forward in how a 24/7 industry can deal with multiple workloads, as the marketplace continues to evolve, the platform will continue to innovate to remain ahead of the competition. He added, “We are constantly looking for ways to improve – we will blend our focus on feedback-driven alterations with the next trends across all levels of people interaction and digital technology to translate such usability into the needs of the modern consulting industry.”

According to the company’s CEO Mark van Leeuwen, this continued need to evolve has placed the platform as a firmly placed market leader, stating, “VOGSY is all you need to run your services business from Quote to Cash. Unlike traditional PSA solutions, we put the professional at the center of technology. VOGSY is your single source of engagement for anything you need to drive the desired outcomes for your clients and for your own business. To Google users, VOGSY is instantly recognisable. And since we leverage a lot of what Google has already taken care of, we onboard in days rather than months.

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Four ways digitalisation is transforming car brands and dealers

16 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

From changing expectations from the customer to new stakeholders entering the industry, the digital transformation of global automotive industry means it is facing the wholesale transformation of its business model. In a new white paper, global consulting partnership Cordence Worldwide has highlighted four major digital trends that are transforming the relationships between car brands and dealers with consumers.

With digital transformation drives booming across the industrial spectrum, automotive groups are no different in having commenced large digital transformation programmes to improve productivity, efficiency, and ultimately profitability. Falling sales figures mean the automotive sector is facing an increasingly difficult road ahead, something which means companies in the market are even more hard pressed to find new ways to improve their bottom lines.

While it offers major opportunities, the industry’s move to digitalise is not without complications. It has triggered a series of major internal changes, which have presented automotive entities with the challenge of becoming a “customer-oriented” industry. A new report from Cordence Worldwide – a global management consulting partnership present in more than 20 countries – has explored how automotive companies are navigating the rapidly changing nature of digital business.

New business models

The level of change likely to be wrought on the automotive industry by digitalisation is hard to overstate. Automation could well lead to significant reductions in the number of accidents, higher vehicle utilisation and lower pollution levels, while leading to a $2.1 trillion change in traditional revenues, with up to $4.3 trillion in new revenue openings arising by 2030.

As a result of this colossal opportunity, it is easy to see why almost all automotive groups now have digital departments, with generally strong communication within the digital transformation and the customer approach. The changes to society which this may have are potentially distracting automotive firms from the change it is leading to in its own companies though, according to Cordence’s paper.

The automotive market is dead, long live the mobility market

Because of this, the sector’s business model is set to transform over the coming decades. With digitalisation speeding up the appearance of concepts such as car-sharing, a subscription package model will likely become more palatable. At the same time, car and ride-sharing models will cater to the sustainability criteria of millennials, who will rapidly become one of the automotive market’s leading consumer demographics in the coming years.

Antoine Glutron – a Managing Consultant with Cordence member Oresys, and the report’s author – said of the situation, “These ‘old school industries’ are now working on creating new opportunities, but in so-doing are facing challenges and threats: new jobs, new technologies, new ecosystem of partners, necessary reorganisation, different relationship with customers, and even new businesses. The customer approach topic is in fact a real challenge for car companies as it implies changing their business model and adjusting their mind-set to address the customer 4.0: from product-centric to customer-centric, from car manufacturer to service provider.”

Digital customer experience

In the hyper-competitive age of the internet, even top companies face an uphill challenge when it comes to holding onto customers through brand loyalty. Digital disruption has resulted in changes to consumer behaviour, which is forcing a range of marketing strategists to reconsider their old, possibly out-dated strategies. As modern customers wield an increasingly impressive array of digital tools and online databases, they and are now able to quickly and conveniently compare prices, check availability and read product reviews.

The automotive sector is no exception to this trend, according to the study. In order to adapt to the needs of the so-called ‘customer 4.0’, car companies will increasingly need to change their business model and move away from product-centric companies to customer-centric ones, from car manufacturers to service providers.

Glutron explained, “As an automotive company, you can no longer expect customer loyalty simply with good products; you must conquer and re-conquer a customer that “consumes” your service. The offer now has to be global, digital and personalised. Your offer has to be adapted to this customer’s needs at any given moment. A key issue related to data control is to build customer loyalty by creating a customer experience 'tailored' throughout the cycle of use of the 'car product': purchase, driving, maintenance and trade-in of the vehicle.”

One way in which the sector may be able to benefit from this desire for a tailored experience is via connectivity. Consumers are generally positive about new connective features for automobiles, and many are even willing to pay upfront for infotainment, emergency and maintenance services. Chinese consumers, where the connected car market is set to hit $216 billion, are already particularly interested in paying a little more for navigation and diagnostic features in their future new car. This can also enable automotive companies to exploit a rich vein of customer data, enabling them to rapidly tailor their offerings to consumer behaviour.

New automotive segments

Digital transformation has also brought with it the rise of completely new application areas. As mentioned earlier, the most well-known example is the autonomous or self-driving car, where the last steps forward were not taken by major automotive groups but by technology companies such as Tesla. While this may have given such firms the edge in the market briefly, a number of keystone automotive names will soon be set to take the plunge into the market themselves, leveraging their car manufacturing prowess and huge production capacities to their advantage.

Before companies rush to invest in this market, however, it is worth their while to remember that the readiness and uptake for such vehicles differs greatly geographically. For example, following a study published in 2018, 92% of Chinese would be ready to buy an autonomous car, compared with only around 35% of drivers in France, Germany and US. Meanwhile, the infrastructure of different nations will also be significantly less accommodating of the new technology.

Use digital for steering thr activity

Elsewhere, Cordence’s analysis has suggested that hooking the cars of tomorrow into the Internet of Things is also likely to see a rapid change in the business model for car maintenance, providing real-time diagnostics for problems. This presents chances for partnerships to improve the connectivity of cars, especially with tech companies; for example, PSA partnered with IBM for a global agreement on services in their vehicle. Meanwhile, data could also be sold to other parties with an interest in this data, such as the government, which could use it to manage traffic levels, or ensure that only adequately maintained vehicles take to the road.

Glutron added, “With the increase in the amount of client data and connected opportunities, the recommendation is to set up data-centric approaches. The value is now in the customer data. The general prerequisites are to rework the data model and the Enterprise Architecture and generally build up a data lake including data from all sources (internal and external, structured and unstructured).”

From automotive to mobility

Relating further to the idea of connectivity, the report claimed that automotive firms must now adjust their models in line with the provision of end-to-end mobility, rather than treating the sale of a car as an end point in their relationship with the customer. In order to realise this transformation, transformations are likely to become more and more important.

A network of partner companies means automotive firms can provide a global mobility experience. As the vehicle is increasingly connected to its environment, new partners can also be cities, governments, and other service providers within the global mobility services industry in which the car brands want to take part.

According to the study, the target is clear. Companies must look to a holistic transport service, offering to move customers from A to B in a unique and pleasant way – otherwise they might as well take public transport. At the same time, they should extend the services reachable “on-board” (especially the enhancement of the connectivity between the car and smartphones or other connected devices), and reach high standards in terms of user experience (online sales, online payment, customised experience during and after the use of the car).

Concluding the report, Glutron stated, “These mobility market transformations could be considered a threat for the car manufacturers. Quite the opposite: if they take up the challenge and review their business model so that they become the service provider – communicating no longer to a driver but to a ‘mobility customer’ – they can then take advantage of their expertise and their position as a historical player. The most convenient means of transport are cars, and building a car is highly-skilled work.”