Taking AI further
EY’s “six habits” study provides detailed information and assessments of digital transformation leaders’ best practices as well as “actions for the boardroom,” such as “create a culture of continuous learning” and “embed innovation with corporate governance.” In previewing the study, TBR noted that the recommendations for boards to consider when accelerating AI — “assess the current state,” “integrate AI into core” and “measure AI benefits” — perfectly mirror EY’s own consulting offerings around AI. In discussing AI further, Higgins and Little explained that the firm has been applying AI when making its own financial forecasting and HR management decisions, providing additional insights into how different solutions could be rolled out to clients. Little made explicit that the firm would “build AI into every solution we have,” laying down a clear marker of the firm’s bet on emerging technologies. The firm has been trying to move away from the historical consulting and systems integration approach of putting many people on projects and would instead be adopting more agile sprint methodologies, automation and AI. A concerted effort to embed AI both internally and in every solution built for clients echoes TBR’s November 2019 Digital Transformation Insights Report: Emerging Technology, which noted that, “to capitalize on the cost savings generated by AI, vendors must shift their value proposition toward navigating clients’ technical and business change management obstacles to implement solutions, a strategy requiring continued investment in consulting expertise.”
Building better ecosystems
In discussing changes to the partnering ecosystem for all consultancies and IT services vendors, TBR has emphasized the need for re-evaluation and constant management of alliances, particularly as the technology vendors themselves change their own partnering models and go-to-market approaches. EY has stepped ahead of this change, recognizing the firm needed to evolve its traditional partner program into strategic ecosystem management.
In February EY released a new study on the “six habits of digital transformation leaders,” based on a survey of global CEOs and board members. TBR spoke with Jim Little, EY’s global Microsoft Alliance lead and EY Americas Technology Strategy lead, and Dan Higgins, EY’s global Technology Consulting leader, to gain additional insights and comments on the study, as well as to understand how the firm has shifted its internal operations and strategy around technology. TBR has attended multiple EY events in the last few years, including those geared specifically toward highlighting the firm’s technology practice. Based on those events and the March 2020 discussions with Little and Higgins, TBR believes EY has substantially changed its approach to technology consulting, from enabled to embedded and scalable, which will increasingly expand the firm’s opportunities with global clients, potentially at the expense of traditionally more technology-centric competitors, such as Accenture (NYSE: ACN) and Deloitte. Little and Higgins explained that EY fully intended to embrace a new strategy around technology, with solutions designed for reach and scale, a brand seeking to move beyond trust, and an ecosystem managed to “create real outcomes” for clients.