INNOVATION

Aura Innovation

Digital Innovation

The digital channel has touched all industries and is continuing to dramatically impact the way companies conduct their business. The rate of change and the ongoing creation and destruction of business models is staggering. The winners will be those who can most effectively adapt to the expectations of the digital customer (individual, enterprise, vendor, partner, and distributor).

Companies need to align their business model and integrate both digital and conventional products, services and channels – acknowledging that disruption has taken place.

We can work with your business to tailor a pragmatic, strategic and comprehensive approach. We focus on enabling your business to create value from the digital economy.

Offering a collaborative and integrated end-to-end digital consulting solution – we assess your business to help you make sense of both the drivers of disruption, as well as the levers that can be enhanced by Digital Change.

If you are struggling with navigating and leveraging the digital world let us assist you with enhancing the customer experience, pricing and bundling, revenue recognition, the quote to cash process and SaaS and the cloud, and compliance.

Our Digital Change Services

Our integrated approach is designed to meet the expectations of today's customer and help your business deliver value in the evolving digital economy.

 

Evolve your business

Digital consulting services focused on helping your business transform into a digital and social enterprise.

  • Digital strategy

  • Multichannel integration

  • Customer experience design

  • Enabling the social and mobile enterprise

  • Streamlining operations

 

Create new value

Generate innovative ideas and MVPs for your business and test these in a market without incurring brand or operational risk.

  • Innovation

  • Ideation

  • Incubation

  • Commercialisation

 

Protect for the future

With the increased reliance on digital assets, we help protect and reduce the risks associated with online security and cyber crime.

  • Compliance

  • Security assessment

  • Mitigation services

  • Response services

 

Accelerate through technology

Agile delivery and integration of enterprise level social, mobile and web solutions.

  • Technology strategy and architecture

  • User experience design and implementation

  • Mobile, social and web solutions

  • Cloud infrastructure planning and integration

 

Know your customers

Understand your customers' expectations and consumption by demystising and managing digital data.

  • Diagnosis

  • Delivering growth and profitability

  • Smarter measurement

  • Data innovation and revenue

  • Improved digital strategy

 

Innovation within healthcare serves two key purposes: improving patient outcomes and reducing or controlling the aggregate related costs to society. Over the last decade, a significant number of new technologies and services have emerged and matured that are reshaping how the major healthcare stakeholders – namely patients, providers, payers and broader society – interact.

Some of these technologies are still nascent or not yet deployed at scale within care providers’ networks, even in the US and other developed markets. Clinical applications of genomics, such as digital health and robotics, are a long way from being used at their full potential, creating the possibility for a multi-decade cycle of improvements and innovation.

 

One of the most promising ways to improve healthcare is by linking phenotypes (a disease’s set of observable symptoms or traits) to biological markers or ‘-omics’ (such as genomics, proteomics or metabolomics) but also to lifestyle factors, including nutrition, stress and environmental factors. Today, medical outcomes are increasingly assessed using vast amounts of precise medical data. The ultimate goal is to tailor treatments to different homogeneous groups of individuals to replace the current costly and ultimately less effective ‘one size fits all’ approach to care. For instance, there is no single ‘lung cancer’, but rather various mutations resulting in tumours that differ across individuals. This underlines the need for personalised treatment.

Genomics is of the utmost importance for the future of disease diagnostics, including screening and developing more targeted drugs that will enable better personalised medicine. Furthermore, digital health, including robotics, will play a significant role in how post-acute care patients and those suffering from chronic conditions are cared for within care networks that are outside hospitals. In that sense, the covid pandemic accelerated the trend of moving patients away from hospitals into post-acute settings, including their homes. Indeed, despite covid pressures on hospital budgets, demand has remained healthy for high-end technologies, such as those used in roboticsassisted surgeries and digital care.

“The ultimate goal is to tailor treatments to different homogeneous groups of individuals to replace the current costly and ultimately less effective ‘one size fits all’ standard of care.”

Covid has also accelerated the shift of some non-acute surgeries away from pandemic-strained hospitals into sameday discharge units. Patients often prefer the faster operating and recovery times that such units offer, as well as the generally lower rates of post-surgery complications that result compared with hospitals.

In addition, today individuals demand greater involvement in managing their own health and lifestyles, and are eager for better data to facilitate this.

There is now a sense of consumerism in healthcare as patients perform their own due diligence as to which hospitals or doctors generate the best outcomes for a given procedure. They seek easy access to second opinions. They demand direct access to mental health professionals from their smartphones. One of the best examples of data usage leading to better clinical outcomes is constant glucose monitoring (CGM) devices for diabetes patients. What started as a tool to ascertain real-time glucose levels instead of relying on sporadic finger pricks has now been linked to insulin pumps, creating de facto artificial pancreases.

They have been demonstrated to help patients stay within a healthy glucose range for longer periods, leading to better long-term outcomes. Due to the success of these devices with both patients and caregivers, it is no surprise that the two CGM manufacturers are laying out plans to propose modified sensors for nutrition, weight management and performance optimization in sports, all of which are typical consumer applications. The boundary between care and lifestyle is growing increasingly blurred when it comes to tracking and monitoring. Indeed, considering obesity’s burden on quality of life and life expectancy, any significant adoption will generate better outcomes and reduce the overall associated healthcare costs.

 

When considering these high-level trends and examples, investors will appreciate how much technology has changed over the last ten years and put that into the context of the slowmoving nature of change within healthcare. Smartphones, cloud servers and artificial intelligence (AI) were much less common and advanced 10 years ago, as was access to DNA / RNA sequencing technologies and the general understanding of biology.

Bringing these technological applications to care networks and developing new drugs, devices and services takes time. As mentioned earlier, we are still very much in the early days in terms of the application of these technologies, which creates a compelling investment opportunity for long-term shareholders.

Contrary to what is generally assumed, drugs spending is not responsible for the rise in aggregate healthcare costs. In the US, it represents 15% (10% innovative drugs, 5% generics) of all costs, which has changed little as a proportion since the two public health coverage programmes, Medicaid and Medicare, were first launched in the 1960s. From a cost perspective, it is the care providers (hospitals, physicians, nursing homes and paramedical services) that represent nearly three-quarters of total healthcare spending. In light of this, it becomes clear that cost efficiencies gained in care providers represent the most significant cost reduction opportunity. This includes increasing preventative care, improving early detection of diseases (notably cancer), offering patients better tools to manage chronic diseases and keeping patients out of hospitals in the post-acute setting.

“The boundary between care and lifestyle is growing increasingly blurred when it comes to tracking and monitoring.”

According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of the American Medicine Association (JAMA), the estimated cost of waste in the US healthcare system ranged between USD760 bn and USD935 bn annually, accounting for approximately 25% of total US healthcare spending. That means nearly 2% of US GDP is wasted each year in healthcare inefficiencies. Using these estimates, after-tax operating profits of roughly USD200 bn for the 25 main profitable healthcare companies appear quite small compared to potential savings and highlight an important reservoir for growth over the longer term.

 

Technology and innovation are indeed the most important tools in improving care outcomes and reducing costs. The good news for investors is that there is still significant profit potential for companies that can help achieve these goals.

green transition

An analysis of the patent literature pertaining to energy suggests we may be at the early stages of a new wave of clean energy innovation.

By mid-2021, any optimism about the curbing of Covid-19 was quickly tempered by waves of extreme weather events. Fires raging in North America and devastating flooding in Europe have served as a harsh reminder of a far graver threat than even the pandemic: climate change. As world leaders meet at the critical COP26 summit in November, emissions continue to rise.

There is already an impressive suite of technologies that can address decarbonisation. “Existing technologies will take us 70 to 80% of [the way to] net zero, but there’s always this deficit in existing technologies that will require some standout technology innovation, not just extension technology,” says Angela Wilkinson, head of the World Energy Council.

In the mid-20th century, the world moved from coal to oil and gas, not because these were less environmentally damaging (although they are), but as a consequence of their portability and because of the enabling technology of the internal combustion engine.1 The transition shows that new energy sources take hold when the right technical systems emerge to use them. Is innovation moving fast enough for energy innovations to take hold?

Ventures

Building trust and solving important problems

At Aura, we can trace our origins back to the mid-19th century, when new types of business advice emerged to meet new needs. While we've evolved since then, we're still focused on innovation and leading the way in helping organizations of all types build a better future for themselves and society.

You don’t achieve long-term success like that by standing still. The only way is through constant change and innovation. Put simply, innovation is embedded into our DNA. It always has been.

Never has our innovation DNA been as vital as it is today. The profound changes and daunting challenges facing the world mean our clients – and indeed our own network – can only succeed by creating a virtuous circle between earning trust and delivering sustained, more intelligent outcomes. 

And the way to do this? Having people and technology work hand-in-hand. Combining human ingenuity with technology to envision and build a future that’s human-led and tech-powered. 

 

A passionate community of solvers

Over the past few years, we’ve transformed ourselves around such a future. First, by running a global digital upskilling initiative involving seven million hours of intense learning. Then by redirecting those new skills towards high-value activities that our clients need and our people enjoy. 

The result? A passionate community of tech-savvy solvers coming together in unexpected ways, creating new solutions for an increasingly complex world. That’s Aura today: people and tech working together for sustained outcomes.

Sharing experience, insights and knowledge

All of this embodies our purpose of building trust and solving important problems. But our purpose also brings us a responsibility to share our innovation experience, insights and knowledge as widely as we can.  

We’ve created this page to do just that. Through it, we tackle and probe today’s hottest topics in the wider world of innovation, and offer you access to our latest and most exciting thought leadership across the entire innovation landscape. 

Take our Crypto Center: a single portal for all our thinking and expertise around the crypto revolution that’s already transforming the financial markets, and is rapidly expanding into business transactions of all types.

 

Innovation is in our DNA

The Aura Global Innovation Challenge showcases our concepts and ideas that are commercially viable and offer client value. The entire Challenge process is operated like a startup venture: fast, nimble and focused! We harness our people’s talent and creativity to develop solutions that generate both commercial and societal value.

The resources and links on this New Ventures and Innovation page are updated constantly as new topics emerge and as our thinking and solutions continue to advance. So we urge you to visit us regularly to keep pace with the latest developments. Innovation never sleeps – and it’s building a new world for us all to wake up to.

HOW INNOVATION HAPPENS

When you live and work in Silicon Valley and talk about it with people who don’t, you get used to a look in their eyes that begs, “What’s the secret sauce?” People know it’s where innovation happens, and many want to know how they can make it happen where they work, too.

It is indeed a celebrated hub of activity, with a strong network of skilled professionals and investment that drive good ideas. But it by no means holds a global monopoly on innovation. Technology is pushing traditional players everywhere to adapt and transform, or risk irrelevance.

So what I would say to anyone who’s looking for answers to how innovation happens is that it’s not rocket science. It’s often about approaching an issue with the curiosity and open mind of a child. But the day-to-day grind of the modern work environment can zap that kind of creativity. Innovation, like a garden, won’t grow on its own. We need to plant seeds and treat them with care, to create not just a garden but an ecosystem. That’s the kind of innovation that sustains and regenerates itself. Innovation is a mind-set, not a technology, or a product, or a solution. And it requires time, commitment, and investment.

 

It’s a point close to my heart, as Aura has just completed its seventh annual Global Innovation Challenge in Tokyo. The challenge offers our people the opportunity to submit ideas for new services and solutions that we can invest in and develop. Some 2,500 Aura innovators from 74 territories took part in the 2018 challenge over a five-week period. Since the annual event started, we’ve invested in ideas that have offered new solutions to clients that include drones, payment systems, and working models.

Innovation is a mind-set, not a technology, or a product, or a solution. And it requires time, commitment, and investment.

As even the most high-profile innovators will tell you, there’s no secret formula for great ideas. But what research and reality show is that there are numerous levers organizations — and people — can pull. Here are five we find particularly powerful:

• Tap the power of pride: Innovation starts with people. Pride in your work and organization is a powerful motivating and creative force. Research by Aura’s Katzenbach Center shows that “emotional energy drives employees to go above and beyond, regardless of external incentives such as compensation and benefits,” creating a repeating cycle of energy and motivation.

• Make failure an option: Preconceived ideas and solutions can block innovation and change. Aura’s digital services practice leader says you have to be willing to take risks and embrace the uncertainty and potential for failure inherent in those risks.

• Rethink your company culture: Organizational culture is not the same thing as employee engagement. As  Aura expert points out, one is “synonymous with free food, foosball tables, and other workplace perks.” The other is about empowerment to make decisions, freedom to innovate, and work–life balance. The key to unlocking performance via your organizational culture is to align your company culture to business priorities.

• Place your customer at the center of innovation: The question at the heart of Aura’s Global Innovation Challenge is: What value are you delivering? Aura strategists suggest that it’s no longer enough to target customers. To stay ahead, you need to be thinking about long-term experience — the value you want to create for your chosen customers over three to five years.

• Flex to grow: Innovation doesn’t necessarily happen between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., so consider how flexibility can play a part in your organization’s strategy to tap into people’s best skills, no matter where and when they work. One CEO offers his perspective on how this approach opens you up to wider talent pools, not just ideas.

Lead & Coach

A little while back, I gave a team of twentysomethings an assignment to research a market in which my organization had zero footprint. I could have engaged some of our senior strategists on this work, but I decided to give these young people a shot.

And that was all I gave them: an opportunity and a conference room. To be honest, I didn’t have much more to offer. In most industries, the company had a deep bench of contacts up to the C-suite, but in this particular market, we had nothing.

In less than six weeks, using information from networking websites and social media, this team talked to 200-plus companies — including the CEOs of many startups. They built a database of their findings, even delivering a summary to companies that requested it, and along the way created a new business network for us.

 

It was amazing. I wish I could say that it was my idea, but it wasn’t. I use networking websites and social media the way most gen Xers do: as a tool to keep in touch with contacts and maybe add a few new ones, like a virtual Rolodex. Younger millennials and gen Zers use them as a fish uses water. It’s their world. Far beyond finding connections between people, they managed to uncover connections between and within companies by utilizing business intelligence platforms and data analytics — and they did it nearly effortlessly.

This utterly natural way in which young people use digital technology applies to mobile computing and data analytics, too. They think, research, and put two and two together in different ways than the rest of the workforce does.

If you want to bring new products and services to market faster and better than the competition, you’re going to have to deploy the new ways of thinking that young people offer. But your success will also depend on using your more experienced professionals to coach them along.

 

A structure for cross-generational success

The team that I described above didn’t quite do everything on its own. All the real work of finding and cultivating contacts in new companies? Yes, that was them. But there was also a midlevel person to manage them and coach them on matters such as the etiquette of talking to potential clients, and our company’s policies and resources. And then there was me. I sponsored this team, put it together, defined expectations, provided a mix of encouragement and pressure, and cleared the way of internal roadblocks so it could do its job.

If you want to bring new products and services to market faster and better than the competition, you’re going to have to deploy the new ways of thinking that young people offer.

My colleagues and I have used this same cross-generational structure to develop many technology-enabled products and services, including the majority in which the initial idea bubbled up from below.

The basic idea is that there’s a senior person (or several senior people) to provide resources and big-picture guidance. There’s someone in the middle who gives more intense coaching and management. And then there are these wonderful digital natives who are fully committed to the project’s daily work.

There are no formal report-outs. But there is regular communication between all levels, with the junior people typically meeting or talking several times a day and more senior employees checking in every week or two.

Tips to change the culture

The above may sound straightforward, but anyone who’s tried to bring generations together — and who’s tried to get established powers to loosen their hands from the reins a little — knows that it’s anything but simple. Here are some tips to change the culture and get everyone in your company on board with cross-generational innovation.

1. Offer reverse mentoring. Pair senior professionals with younger employees who can teach them digital skills. The partnership creates expertise and establishes new relationships.

2. Set expectations at the top. If top leadership makes it clear that innovation issuing from young talent is business-critical, and if they demonstrate that importance through their own example, others will follow.

3. Define a strategic agenda. Leadership should determine and announce areas in which the company most needs innovation to guide those workers who are a few rungs below them.

4. Encourage portfolios. Senior people who rose through the company the old way may hesitate at the perception of new risks — but if they sponsor a portfolio of new projects, the risk from each will be minimal.

5. Coach senior professionals, too. Seasoned professionals often need advice on how to give younger employees the right balance of freedom and guidance.

The best part of this approach is that when the project works out, everyone looks good. But if it fails — and a critical part of innovation, as I discussed in my previous column, is getting customer feedback so you know when to make changes or pull the plug — it’s not a big loss for the senior person. After all, he or she hasn’t sunk a lot of time into any individual project. And the younger team members, meanwhile, will have developed tangible experience for the next project, raising the odds that it will succeed.

None of this is easy, but all of it is critical. When I meet people who complain about how much the business world is changing, I have one answer: You ain’t seen nothing yet.

So if you and your company are going to succeed in the coming years, you have to create an environment in which young and mature talent can work together to innovate — and that requires having both the right culture and the necessary structures in place.

a better workforce

Upskilling the workforce of the future to create a competitive advantage in financial services : COVID-19 has severely disrupted the financial services industry, ending a decade-long positive credit cycle and all but guaranteeing that ultra-low interest rates are here for the foreseeable future. The pandemic also has exacerbated existing productivity challenges. Many firms have had increasingly unsustainable cost–income ratios—and if they don’t take action, they’ll face an existential threat.

But the pandemic has presented productivity opportunities, too. Some of them are highlighted by the closure of brick-and-mortar branches and offices due to health concerns, the relative ease with which customers have switched to digital channels, and the successful aspects of remote work.


In our first productivity report, published in 2019, we identified six areas that our survey showed were the focus of most institutions’ productivity efforts. Now, in our second survey, we realise that one of them, improving workforce digital IQ, is integral to and interwoven with all of the others.


How does your firm's productivity compare to other financial services firms? Compare yourself against our survey data:


Do you believe work effort and productivity tracking would help you to boost the productivity of the workforce?


•    Yes
•    No
•    Don't know

 

In your knowledge, does your organisation plan to implement additional measures and tools to measure the productivity of the workforce?


•    Yes - within the next 12 months
•    Yes - but not within the next 12 months
•    We were planning to but it's on hold due to Covid-19
•    No
•    Don't know

 

What % of your organisation's annual budget, broadly defined, is spent on change activities versus business-as-usual operations?
•    10% or less
•    11-20%
•    21-30%
•    31-40%
•    More than 40%
•    Don't know

 

How would you rate your organisation's ability to manage and execute change programs?
•    Good
•    Neither/nor
•    Poor
•    Don't know

 

Does your organisation have a dedicated change function?
•    Yes
•    No
•    Don't know

 

How satisfied are you with the organisation's change function?
•    Satisfied
•    Dissatisfied
•    Don't know

 

What measures, if any, has your change organisation implemented to grow and retain talent?
•    Defined secondment program or commitment to return the business
•    Career mentors and coaches
•    Specialized training/education
•    Partnering with third party consulting firms
•    Use of contractors
•    We have no measures in place to grow and retain talent
•    Don't know

 

Does your organization leverage platforms to crowdsource solutions?
•    Yes
•    No
•    Don't know

 

What level of value has crowdsourcing added to your organisation?
•    Waste of time
•    Minimal
•    Moderate
•    High value
•    Very high value
•    Don't know

 

How do you expect the % of gig-based employees in your organisation to change in the next 3-5 years?
•    Increase
•    Remain the same
•    Decrease
•    Don't know

 

Is your organization adopting Agile ways of working?
•    Yes
•    No
•    Don't know

 

In what areas of your organisation is Agile being used?
•    IT
•    Operations
•    Finance
•    Risk
•    Compliance
•    Front Office
•    Product management
•    Business Development
•    Digital Transformation
•    Don't know

 

Is your organisation using any of the following tools to improve productivity?
•    Robotic Process Automation
•    Artificial Intelligence
•    Deep Learning
•    Risk
•    None of the above
•    Don't know

 

What are some of the most common impediments to technological success?
100%
Please select:
Next
•    Technology overhyped
•    Poor implementation
•    Limited benefits versus costs
•    Lack of a co-ordinated strategy
•    Too many tools
•    Legacy systems
•    Other
•    Don't know

 

What impact do you expect on your company's revenue this year, as a result of COVID-19?
Each of the pillars of productivity, as you will see in this report, involves some element of upskilling. Better understanding the workforce, for example, requires the deployment of new measurement and analytical tools. Embracing the platform economy to fully leverage gig work and innovation in crowdsourcing means organising and managing the workforce differently and developing and introducing products in a new way. Making sure your employees are equipped with new skills for a new world will unlock productivity gains across the board and is fundamental to becoming a world-beating institution.


Explore the 5 pillars of productivity
Pillar 1: Better understanding the workforce

 

Pillar 2: Rethinking change functions

 

Pillar 3: Embracing the platform economy

 

Pillar 4: Bringing an agile mindset to the mainstream

 

Pillar 5: Mastering digital labour


As digitisation becomes ever more critical and technology solutions increasingly involve collaboration with third parties, firms need new capabilities. Most organisations have already digitised to some degree and are seeing productivity gains as a result, but there’s much more that can be done. For one thing, it’s not just technical skills that workers need. They also require training in new ‘soft’ skills, such as agile methods and advanced collaboration techniques.


Our updated survey shows that many firms are taking concerted action to implement this sort of training. They’re also putting in place the resources and technology infrastructure necessary for making productivity gains. In this report, we’ll examine the current state of the market, explore success stories, and lay out the next steps we think you should consider as you craft your productivity agenda for 2021 and beyond. 


77% of all organisations track productivity compared to 96% in both China and India
Pillar 1: Better understanding the workforce


The current situation
On the surface, the survey results regarding understanding workforce productivity appear encouraging, with a majority of respondents reporting some level of productivity tracking. Yet when you dig deeper, little has changed in the past two years in terms of institutions’ understanding of the detailed tasks their workers actually do every day. Hourly time tracking or periodic time studies are still rare, and just 37% of firms who are not already applying these measures believe that such tracking will improve productivity, down from 63% in our previous survey.


As a result, managerial decisions continue to be made with very little specific data, often by looking at comparable wage rates in different locations and with a cursory knowledge of the activities associated with individual roles. Few institutions are looking comprehensively at the nature of work, the activities that different employees perform, and how individuals can improve their productivity through new ways of working and the development of digital skills. In our view, gaining a better understanding of the workforce represents a major cost reduction opportunity for the industry.


The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath have underscored the importance of analysing workforce productivity. Although studies have shown that remote workers are just as productive or more productive than office workers, dealing with a more dispersed workforce does add layers of complexity to the already difficult job managers face in evaluating employees, improving their performance and developing teams. From an employee perspective, the lack of visibility often means that training needs are overlooked, extra work isn’t appreciated, and it is more difficult to separate top performers from the middle of the pack. 

What needs to happen
Institutions need to develop a baseline understanding of the activities their people engage in each day, supported by quantitative data. It’s best to start by applying this approach to a small segment of the workforce where the potential gains are most obvious. For many institutions, this could be a problem unit, a certain category of workers (such as contractors) or an area undergoing change. A detailed time study will generate data needed to identify top performers and laggards, improve the organisation of work, and—critically—make it clear which specific actions would increase productivity and engagement.


Challenges
Respondents in our most recent survey cite several obstacles to consistent and detailed productivity analyses, including a perception that requiring it would cost too much or take up too much of employees’ time. In addition to employer reasons for avoiding detailed tracking, employees might be resistant to workforce analytics for a variety of reasons. For instance, many workers have concerns that productivity tracking information will be used to accelerate their replacement by automation and AI. A 2019 survey shows that 27% of US workers polled fear their jobs will be replaced by technology within the next five years. This is particularly acute in the 18 to 24 age group, where 37% have this fear.

On average, organisations cited two obstacles for implementing additional tracking measures


Workforce analytics do lay bare performance and productivity differences amongst employees and teams. However, that information can lead to positive results, including better recognition of high performers, identification of both leading-edge and deficient practices, and better balancing of workloads between teams and individuals. Data also can help managers better align daily work activities to skill levels and experience and help them determine the types of training needed. To ease privacy concerns, organisations can anonymise and aggregate data and ask employees to opt in to the programme. 

 Steps to take
•    Analyse the workforce and determine which employee groups are the most appropriate candidates for engaging in more detailed time tracking and analytics. Information technology staff and third-party contractors, for example, are typically accustomed to tracking time. Instituting greater discipline and task delineation for these groups is typically less of a challenge than for other groups.


•    Consider employee self-tracking—rather than using surveillance technology—and using periodic time studies with specific goals in mind (such as identifying best practices, tailoring training programmes or balancing workloads). These approaches can help alleviate employees’ privacy concerns, leading to greater adoption.


•    Follow up any study with specific actions to improve performance, training, teamwork or any other objective for the employees who participated. When firms do this, we consistently find that approximately 75% of poor performers move to an acceptable level of performance—or better—within six months.


•    Finally, leverage this valuable data to make decisions about task allocations, organisation structures, role levels, and opportunities for automation to drive further efficiencies and productivity gains.


A global bank leverages time study insights to reduce operational and control costs
Recently, a major global bank was changing some of its compliance processes and needed to understand the right number of full-time employees needed to perform these functions. It also wanted to analyse the operating models of its peers, to ensure the assumptions it made were valid and verifiable. Using Aura’s Productivity Hub software, the bank captured data about the roles and activities of more than 100 employees across 120 transition activities over a five-week time study. The assessment highlighted the activities that employees spent the majority of their time doing. 


Armed with this data, the company was then able to produce detailed insights into the resources needed for these important transition activities. In one case, the bank had initially estimated that a particular set of tasks required 40 full-time employees, yet the time study showed it was actually ten. In addition, the bank found that almost 20% of employees’ time could not be allocated to the defined transition activities, that the assumption that senior resources were needed to complete most tasks was incorrect and that certain deliverables being produced by the group were no longer used or relevant. The end result was that the bank reorganised the group and its activities in a material way, saving more than US$3m in costs and creating additional capacity to complete the transition both ahead of budget and target completion date. 


Pillar 2: Rethinking change functions
The current situation
Change is expensive. The average change budget at a financial services institution represents about 14% of annual operating costs, according to our most recent findings. Almost one-fourth of respondents are spending 21% to 30% of their operating costs on change programmes, and budgets can exceed that for organisations going through challenging periods. According to another survey Aura conducted in 2020, the top three organisational change priorities, ranked by importance, are client and customer satisfaction (cited by 90% of respondents), regulatory compliance (85%) and operational resilience (82%). Moreover, spending on change programmes has continued to increase since our previous survey, despite continued cost pressures and the impact of COVID-19, and is up 5% year-on-year.


Yet in our experience, increased change budgets are not leading to commensurate results, often because spending is not aligned with an institution’s strategic priorities. Worse, firms often have an inflated sense of their ability to implement change. The majority of our most recent survey respondents say they have a good or very good ability to manage and execute change programmes, but Aura analysis shows financial services lagging most other industries in this area.

 

In a post–COVID-19 world, marked by a growing need to accelerate digitisation efforts, right-size businesses, and cut costs in a negative credit and economic environment, institutions need to improve their performance and generate maximum impact from ever-larger change budgets. Digital skills are a key means of achieving these goals. 

Almost a quarter of respondents spend 21–30% of their operating costs on change programs


AWM organisations are more likely to rate their change management as ‘very good’ (33%) compared to those in insurance (13%)


Organisations in the UK and Japan are more likely to rate their change management as poor (both 20% vs 8% overall)


What needs to happen
As we noted in our 2019 report, productivity must remain at the core of the ROI equation for change initiatives. Quality information about time and expense budgets, business benefits, dependencies, deliverables and other metrics—all at the level of individual projects—enables leaders to prioritise and rationalise the change portfolio at any budget level. Even without perfect or comprehensive information, improved analytics can provide enough insight to significantly improve the ROI on change initiatives. For example, upon close examination, many ‘mandatory’ change projects include discretionary components that can be trimmed without compromising the primary objective of the effort.

 

Likewise, deeper analysis often uncovers duplication of technology expenditures across different business units. In our experience, better use of data and analytics can help firms reduce the budget for a change portfolio by up to 20% without losing material benefits. 


Challenges
Talent is a central challenge in implementing change. Many top employees feel that giving up their day-to-day operational roles to help drive a one-time transformation effort is a high-risk, low-reward proposition, leading to long hours, high stress and an uncertain career path once the transformation is complete. Firms are responding to this challenge by offering specialised training, career mentoring and defined secondment programmes, often with a clear commitment to return to the business once the project ends.

 

Consultants continue to be used extensively as a source for high quality and subject matter expertise, although firms could improve knowledge transfer once the consultants have executed their mandate. Beyond talent, perhaps the most significant challenge in implementing change is shaping the right portfolio of change activities at the outset and accurately measuring results over time. 

Steps to take
•    Use tools to collect and analyse data that will show you the right level of governance for various change activities, interdependencies and potential resource gaps. With this information, determine the optimal portfolio of change activities given your available budget. What is the combination of efforts that will yield the greatest benefits while meeting regulatory and other commitments?


•    Get a realistic view of talent needs. More specifically, what types of skills does your workforce need to execute specific changes? Do some teams or individuals require new skills? Does talent need to be sourced from outside the organisation in certain areas? What is the proper balance between experienced hiring and increased use of consultants, contractors, gig economy employees and alliance partners?


•    Focus on execution and delivering business value on time and on budget. With better data and analytics regarding individuals and teams executing the work, you can identify high-performing teams and individuals and mitigate projects that are headed off course by offering additional training, reallocating resources or even replacing individuals.

Change portfolio optimisation at a major European bank reduces costs by 40% and improves performance


For banks worldwide, COVID-19 has led to downward pressure on revenue, rapidly evolving customer behaviours and an uptick in nonperforming loans, among other changes. However, it has also spurred institutions to do more with less. Against this backdrop, a major European bank launched an ambitious cost-cutting and efficiency initiative in early 2020, seeking to reduce costs by 40% over five years. The initiative has several main objectives.


Short-term cost savings: The bank implemented a range of short-term measures to reduce the cost base by 5% in the first year of the initiative. An important step in achieving this goal was assessing and prioritising the portfolio of change programmes already underway and decreasing the remaining annual spend by 50%. Notably, the bank resisted the temptation to cut too deep or delay strategic investments that would position the bank for future growth.


Cross-cutting strategic cost priorities over the longer term: The bank also took longer-term measures, such as exiting less profitable (or unprofitable) product groups and businesses that were aimed at slow-growth customer segments and geographic markets. The shift to remote work and digital customer interactions enabled the bank to streamline its operational footprint, targeting a reduction in the number of branches by 40% to 60% and closing some customer-service centres. And redesigned automated and digitised customer journeys led to efficiency improvements of 15% to 20%.


A right-to-left approach: Critically, the bank avoided the typical, incremental approach to cost reductions. Instead, the bank started from scratch and set the spending levels required to reach its target state. That more ambitious approach raises the level of ambition for the organisation, avoids the sunk-cost fallacy of continuing unnecessary investments, and ensures a balanced focus on costs and investments needed to prepare for the future.


Overall, the productivity of the organisation is improving, with a focus on doing more with less, eliminating nonstrategic spend where possible and building capabilities needed for long-term success. 


Pillar 3: Embracing the platform economy
The current situation
Many of the most valuable companies in the world share one thing in common: They have embraced the platform economy as a business model. They operate with relatively few full-time employees and an increasing percentage of ‘gig economy’ talent that they can access on-demand, making their organisations extremely innovative, nimble and cost-efficient. Beyond cost efficiencies, these platforms make it possible to access the full spectrum of talent, from workers with undifferentiated skills to professionals with highly specialised expertise.


As we discussed in our previous report, the financial services sector can use a platform approach to access ‘new world/new skills’ talent and ideas. The sector has made some progress towards this goal. Among respondents to our most recent survey, 50% say they now use crowdsourcing, up from 21% in our 2019 report. Among those that have already implemented crowdsourcing, the vast majority say it’s generated high or very high value for the organisation.


Next, we expect many financial institutions to become platform companies themselves—facilitating transactions across a wider suite of products and services (including those from other participants on the platform). Mutual fund marketplaces and multi-provider lending and insurance sites are some examples. We believe this trend will continue, pushed forward by some of the forces we describe in our recent report The future of financial services: Securing your tomorrow, today. These include continued low interest rates and margins, the increasing cost of regulated (versus unregulated) capital, and the rise of nonbank lenders and investors in the market.


What needs to happen
Leaders in the industry are looking seriously at their workforces to evaluate which roles need to be performed by permanent employees and which can be performed by gig economy workers, contractors or even crowdsourcing. We suggest that all firms follow suit. COVID-19 and remote working have opened the door to accessing talent outside of a firm’s physical location, including outside of the country. Talent platforms provide a clear means to access gig economy talent and related classification and compliance services, and they typically charge fees substantially below those of traditional contracting firms.


Challenges
Despite increasingly available on-demand talent, most institutions still rely primarily on full-time and part-time employees. But many of our survey respondents say they expect to have more gig-based employees over the next three to five years. We believe this group of employees will likely perform 15% to 20% of the work of a typical institution within five years, driven by continuous cost pressure and the need to access digitally skilled talent.


Getting to this point, though, will require overcoming several obstacles. When it comes to crowdsourcing, the obstacles our survey respondents cite most commonly haven’t changed much since our 2019 report and include confidentiality concerns, a lack of knowledge, regulatory risk and overall risk avoidance. In addition, our experience shows that central reasons for not leveraging platforms more widely are a lack of institutional commitment and deeply ingrained procurement practices, particularly for talent. Supplier arrangements and contracts with larger institutions can literally take years to complete, and it’s almost impossible for new entrants to break down these barriers.


When deciding whether to crowdsource, organisations in China are more likely to cite a lack of knowledge/experience (70%) compared to organisations overall (43%)  Organisations of $5bn+ are more likely to cite risk avoidance as an obstacle to outsourcing (48%) compared to organisations overall (37%)

Steps to take
•    Make crowdsourcing and the gig economy part of your productivity and workforce strategy at all levels, from the C-suite to the most junior hires. This push must come from the very top of the organisation to be successful, given general resistance to change. A growing number of partnerships between financial institutions and technology companies (such as the leading cloud providers) will further move financial services in this direction.


•    Understand which talent and solutions platforms are applicable to your business. This area is so new and growing so quickly that organisations need to establish a baseline and continually update it over time.


•    Identify the highest-volume or highest-impact work (perhaps starting with 15% to 20% of total work) that would be better served with a gig economy placement, and begin exploring talent platforms and building virtual benches of on-demand talent. Is there a particular transformation or one-time exercise where you can blend in more gig economy workers? 


A top Asian bank leverages the gig economy to improve labour flexibility and reduce costs
At one of the retail subsidiaries of a top Asian financial institution, the management team was facing some significant talent challenges. The unit wanted to reduce its reliance on full-time employees in a number of areas, but it was unsatisfied with both the cost and quality of the options that staffing and contracting firms offered. Leaders considered engaging with contractors directly but were concerned about compliance and legal risks, not to mention the costs of setting up and operating the infrastructure needed for services such as background checks, onboarding and worker classification.


The unit ultimately opted to work with MBO Partners to offer an enterprise-level marketplace solution for gig economy workers. Such talent platforms provide a cost-effective means of accessing gig economy talent—from software engineers, designers, and programme managers to executive coaches—along with related classification and compliance services. Working closely with compliance, human resources and other relevant functions, the platform company now delivers to the bank its talent marketplace, while operating necessary technology and infrastructure.
By partnering in this way, the bank was able to get several crucial benefits.


Significantly lower costs: The platform company’s service cost per gig economy employee was below 10% of what the employee earned, compared to 25% or more that most contracting firms charge.


Higher-quality talent: Compared with staffing firms the bank had previously worked with, which used their brands to recruit talent, the platform company allowed the bank to use its own brand to attract better talent. Because of both the lower costs and branding factors, the bank used the platform to fill more roles within its workforce with high-quality external workers than when it used staffing firms. This led to better client outcomes and more value delivered at a lower cost.


More accessible talent: The bank has been able to rapidly build larger groups of key resources in critical areas and quickly meet its talent needs for specific projects. 


New talent models: The bank has opened up new roles to gig economy workers and engaged in ‘try-before-you-buy’ arrangements in which they can test out workers before offering them full-time employment. 


Pillar 4: Bringing an agile mindset to the mainstream
The current situation
Somewhat surprisingly, our most recent survey shows that the use of agile ways of working actually declined over the past two years. The most common applications are still in information technology, finance and business development. Our work with institutions around the world has given us some insight into why this might be the case. First, some management teams might not be fully committed to the journey.

 

Other management teams don’t always understand how the new approach will create value or improve performance, and they might be uncomfortable working in unconventional ways with greater transparency. In extreme cases, they might actively undermine confidence in agile ways of working by citing examples where peer organisations have failed.


64% of organisations are adopting agile ways of working, down from 77% in 2019
Where agile is being used


Organisations in Japan are less likely to adopt agile ways of working (50% not adopting vs 29% overall)


On average, organisations report using agile in three areas
 

What needs to happen
Agile is not a single, monolithic approach. Rather, it can be adapted to the unique business model, culture and ways of working at an organisation, and towards a specific set of objectives, from boosting productivity to increasing employee engagement and creating a better customer experience. Moreover, agile is best implemented in financial institutions when viewed from the enterprise lens, rather than being isolated within a single business or support area. But doing this will result in profound change in the way an institution is organised and operated, so organisations need to build up their capabilities in stages over time. 

Challenges
In addition to the mindset challenges we’ve described that might prevent managers from experimenting with agile ways of working, firms also often try to use standard, out-of-the-box solutions based on rigid frameworks rather than tailoring solutions to meet their specific needs. Some transformations might be too ambitious to succeed—or too cautious to generate meaningful results. Disruptive new technology or ways of working could push teams too far. And some agile initiatives fail due to a lack of momentum. Teams and employees need to see quick wins early on to be persuaded that a project has merit. Without those early successes, projects stall out, and scepticism grows. 

Steps to take
•    Commit the entire management team, ensuring that each member understands how an agile approach will unlock value and improve performance. Expect leaders to enthusiastically and publicly support the efforts.


•    Design and build a model that is uniquely aligned to your organisation’s needs, identity and brand. There are well-known examples of famous companies that have adopted agile ways of working that provide great reference points, but simply trying to replicate them will not work.


•    Carefully calibrate expectations. Start with a workable organisational or customer outcome and work backwards from that target. Know which aspects of the business don’t need to change drastically.


•    If your organisation has a deeply entrenched culture and ways of working, perhaps don’t even use the term agile at first. Some basic elements of agile, such as daily stand-ups, don’t require a formal change effort and can be implemented simply by leading through example. Once these sorts of methods are in place and the team sees the value in them, you can then apply more ambitious measures.


A major insurance company applies agile at global scale
An insurer that serves 15 countries across Europe and Asia wanted to implement an agile and efficient operating model in order to rethink, simplify and standardise the way it created value for customers. Some localised business units had taken steps on their own to integrate agile and be lean. This was a bottom-up approach to change that was fast and flexible but also had a major drawback: each market felt like it had to start from scratch, with few opportunities to collaborate or scale up successful initiatives.


The company needed to unify its lean and agile practices and capabilities, identifying and standardising elements that were working well while still providing autonomy where possible. Aura helped the company in this effort, analysing good practices, finding common denominators and establishing global standards. The insurer’s best practices are now compiled into an organisational blueprint that addresses governance, ways of working, financial and risk management and an employee engagement model, among other areas. Each entity is responsible for assessing its performance against the blueprint, identifying gaps and implementing measures to improve. Local lean and agile experts can access the global firm’s insights and training kits to implement the new standards and practices.


Through this initiative, the company has generated significant improvements in key metrics. The average lead time for information technology change has been reduced from weeks to days. Successful innovations from other markets can now be applied at the local level in weeks rather than months. 


Pillar 5: Mastering digital labour
The current situation
‘Digital labour’ encompasses all of the tools and techniques used to replace human labour with technology. According to our most recent survey, artificial intelligence (AI) has passed robotic process automation (RPA) as the most widely used type of automation solution, and Aura’s experience on the ground supports this finding. AI is increasingly being used to drive exponential improvements in productivity and provide unique value to end customers. For example, AI solutions now enable the underwriting of large mortgage loans in minutes, allowing home buyers to walk through a property and make a fully backed offer on the spot—a dramatic improvement over the weeks-long process offered by traditional institutions. AI is also increasingly being used in conjunction with Internet of Things devices to track data as diverse as health factors, driving habits and investor sentiments.


As organisations incorporate AI into more and more areas of the business, regulators and other stakeholders are increasingly focused on topics such as transparency, control, fairness and privacy. The risk is that AI is creating new ‘black boxes,’ where humans are unable to understand the nature of the algorithms and their implications.

 

Do credit-scoring algorithms have hidden biases that discriminate against certain borrowers?

 

Are the algorithms that are monitoring transactions for money laundering able to detect the latest techniques used by drug traffickers and terrorists?

 

Can my AI-based intrusion-detection software cope with the latest threats from hackers, organised crime and national governments?

 

These questions have moved beyond risk and technology functions and into the C-suite, and we are only at the beginning.


The increasing use of the cloud is akin to providing rocket fuel to the use of AI in financial services. In fact, many of the first applications being developed or converted to both the private and public clouds are algorithmic in nature and require large amounts of data and computing power. AI is an area where the cloud providers themselves will lend not only their immense computing power but also considerable expertise.


What needs to happen
As these new digital labour solutions become mainstream, you’ll need to apply the same type of rigorous management and control processes to AI and RPA that you have to more traditional automation efforts carried out by the information technology department. This also means that end-user upskilling efforts need to go far beyond simply teaching people to use a tool. The workforce will need a better understanding of control, change management and other elements of the systems development lifecycle. In addition, firms will need to emphasise rigorously testing AI solutions for biases and ensuring that data is collected and used responsibly—both during the development of these applications and after they are rolled out. This means thinking about how data is used, unconscious and conscious biases, data protection and other ethical matters. 


Challenges
In our experience, many clients still lack a rigorous method to determine where digital labour solutions would most benefit their end-to-end processes in terms of improving client satisfaction, reducing cycle time and lowering the number of full-time employees needed. Institutions continue to make educated guesses about where best to implement digital labour, generating improved—but still less than optimal—results. Our most recent survey shows that 30% of respondents cite poor implementation of tech (versus 71% in our 2019 report), and 36% note a lack of a coordinated strategy (versus 59% previously). 


Organisations need to be careful that citizen-led automation efforts are both efficient and well-controlled. As the number and complexity of these efforts increase, some executives and control functions fear a repeat of the computing debacle of the early 2000s, when ad hoc automations (mostly Excel micros) led to a series of control failures and information misreporting, with sometimes serious financial and regulatory effects. Proactive institutions are implementing a robust control and change management infrastructure and system of governance to manage this risk. In addition, firms’ increased reliance on algorithms raises questions about transparency, control, fairness and privacy—and regulators and other stakeholders could increasingly scrutinise AI. The shift to cloud-based services, which can put AI applications directly into the hands of consumers in cost-effective ways will only fuel these concerns.
 

Steps to take
•    Across all categories of digital solutions, the key question to ask is whether your infrastructure, methodologies and control processes are fit for purpose. The first step is simply to understand the full extent of digital applications your organisation is using, along with the intended roadmap for use.


•    Consider the full end-to-end lifecycle, from business-case development to implementation to change management, and what additional or different techniques, methodologies, infrastructure and education you need to support digital initiatives. This is key to making sure that automation solutions not only provide short-term productivity benefits but are both sustainable and controllable. 


A top global bank embraces citizen-led development to improve its finance function
This institution’s finance function was burdened by highly manual and repetitive tasks, inconsistent processes and high labour costs. The firm wanted to remain a market leader in innovation, solidify its reputation as an employer of choice, and augment the workforce with tools that enable more efficient and effective ways of working. Management recognised that implementing new digital technologies could quickly generate both quantitative and qualitative benefits to the organisation. To get there, the company adopted a citizen-led approach to automation.


Several measures were critical to the bank’s success. First, C-suite leaders were evangelists for the change, aligning on a clear strategy and specific business outcomes. In addition, several inaugural use cases generated quick wins, which built momentum for broader adoption while freeing up IT resources for more complex efforts. The business, application and data teams also worked together to develop a central governance structure to manage solutions, track business improvements and coordinate on complex, interrelated processes. And the bank formed a user community where employees could share best practices and lessons learned. 


The programme resulted in benefits including:


•    labour cost savings of US$15m (annualised) in the first nine months


•    more than 200 successful use cases across four finance teams


•    standardised and improved end-to-end processes that deliver high-quality and timely information, generate insights and enable better decisions


•    enhanced controls on areas such as regulatory reporting, financial reporting and balance sheet reconciliation, which ultimately reduced end-user computing risks


•    overall increased employee engagement and productivity. 
 

Conclusion: New skills for a new world
As our survey results and experiences with the world’s leading financial institutions show, there are many ways to address the daunting productivity challenge, but they all share a common foundation. You need to improve the digital IQ of your workforces, along with relevant softer skills. These skills are even more critical in a post–COVID-19 environment. They are, in fact, the decisive factor in increasing productivity on a sustainable basis, which is proving to be one of the key factors in an organisation’s long-term success.


This skills challenge calls for a comprehensive talent strategy and approach, and the execution of specific upskilling efforts that can explicitly demonstrate the tie between investment and improved business outcomes. Without these quantitative results, along with greater employee engagement (which can also be measured), our experience shows that upskilling programmes quickly lose momentum and can ultimately fail.

 

On the other hand, explicitly linking investments to outcomes and capturing benefits typically builds confidence that such efforts deliver real improvements in return on investment and other aspects of performance. This momentum can quickly spread throughout the enterprise.

multigenerational approach to innovation

A little while back, I gave a team of twentysomethings an assignment to research a market in which my organization had zero footprint. I could have engaged some of our senior strategists on this work, but I decided to give these young people a shot.

And that was all I gave them: an opportunity and a conference room. To be honest, I didn’t have much more to offer. In most industries, the company had a deep bench of contacts up to the C-suite, but in this particular market, we had nothing.

In less than six weeks, using information from networking websites and social media, this team talked to 200-plus companies — including the CEOs of many startups. They built a database of their findings, even delivering a summary to companies that requested it, and along the way created a new business network for us.

It was amazing. I wish I could say that it was my idea, but it wasn’t. I use networking websites and social media the way most gen Xers do: as a tool to keep in touch with contacts and maybe add a few new ones, like a virtual Rolodex. Younger millennials and gen Zers use them as a fish uses water. It’s their world. Far beyond finding connections between people, they managed to uncover connections between and within companies by utilizing business intelligence platforms and data analytics — and they did it nearly effortlessly.

This utterly natural way in which young people use digital technology applies to mobile computing and data analytics, too. They think, research, and put two and two together in different ways than the rest of the workforce does.

If you want to bring new products and services to market faster and better than the competition, you’re going to have to deploy the new ways of thinking that young people offer. But your success will also depend on using your more experienced professionals to coach them along.

A structure for cross-generational success

The team that I described above didn’t quite do everything on its own. All the real work of finding and cultivating contacts in new companies? Yes, that was them. But there was also a midlevel person to manage them and coach them on matters such as the etiquette of talking to potential clients, and our company’s policies and resources. And then there was me. I sponsored this team, put it together, defined expectations, provided a mix of encouragement and pressure, and cleared the way of internal roadblocks so it could do its job.

If you want to bring new products and services to market faster and better than the competition, you’re going to have to deploy the new ways of thinking that young people offer.

My colleagues and I have used this same cross-generational structure to develop many technology-enabled products and services, including the majority in which the initial idea bubbled up from below.

The basic idea is that there’s a senior person (or several senior people) to provide resources and big-picture guidance. There’s someone in the middle who gives more intense coaching and management. And then there are these wonderful digital natives who are fully committed to the project’s daily work.

There are no formal report-outs. But there is regular communication between all levels, with the junior people typically meeting or talking several times a day and more senior employees checking in every week or two.

Tips to change the culture

The above may sound straightforward, but anyone who’s tried to bring generations together — and who’s tried to get established powers to loosen their hands from the reins a little — knows that it’s anything but simple. Here are some tips to change the culture and get everyone in your company on board with cross-generational innovation.

1. Offer reverse mentoring. Pair senior professionals with younger employees who can teach them digital skills. The partnership creates expertise and establishes new relationships.

2. Set expectations at the top. If top leadership makes it clear that innovation issuing from young talent is business-critical, and if they demonstrate that importance through their own example, others will follow.

3. Define a strategic agenda. Leadership should determine and announce areas in which the company most needs innovation to guide those workers who are a few rungs below them.

4. Encourage portfolios. Senior people who rose through the company the old way may hesitate at the perception of new risks — but if they sponsor a portfolio of new projects, the risk from each will be minimal.

5. Coach senior professionals, too. Seasoned professionals often need advice on how to give younger employees the right balance of freedom and guidance.

The best part of this approach is that when the project works out, everyone looks good. But if it fails — and a critical part of innovation, as I discussed in my previous column, is getting customer feedback so you know when to make changes or pull the plug — it’s not a big loss for the senior person. After all, he or she hasn’t sunk a lot of time into any individual project. And the younger team members, meanwhile, will have developed tangible experience for the next project, raising the odds that it will succeed.

None of this is easy, but all of it is critical. When I meet people who complain about how much the business world is changing, I have one answer: You ain’t seen nothing yet.

So if you and your company are going to succeed in the coming years, you have to create an environment in which young and mature talent can work together to innovate — and that requires having both the right culture and the necessary structures in place.

Unicorn

Many kinds of personal financial transactions that used to be expensive, cumbersome, or downright impossible can now be completed with a few taps on our phone. Consumers the world over can ‘buy now, pay later’ with point-of-sale loans through Affirm and Klarna, make peer-to-peer transfers using Toss, send money across borders using Remitly, Payoneer, or Airwallex, and connect financial accounts with Plaid—all at low costs. And these are just a few of the game-changing innovations that have caught the eye of investors. According to Aura analysis using data from PitchBook Data Inc.,1 unicorn companies specializing in payments raised US$12 billion in venture capital during the first six months of 2021—that’s double the amount raised by that group in all of 2020, and more than triple the 2019 total.

 

The surge in fintech investment is one example of the unprecedented amount of capital flowing into unicorns—defined as privately owned, VC-backed companies valued at $1 billion or more—which are in turn scaling at a never-before-seen rate. If 1999 was the year of the IPO, when companies going public raised a record $69.2 billion, the 2020s have ushered in an era of innovation overdrive that the pandemic has only accelerated. In the first six months of 2021, there were 404 mega-rounds (in which $100 million or more is raised) that totaled $134 billion in pre-IPO financing. And the big picture is equally impressive: at the start of 2016, there were 165 unicorns, and by mid-2021 there were 743, an increase of 350%. 

 

 

This is not your typical tech that takes 20 years to scale. Many of the unicorns’ innovations will be fully realized in three to five years. Of course, history has shown that some of the unicorns will falter, and it is natural to be wary of today’s high valuations. But unicorns have often achieved their status because they staked out solid positions in markets that are scaling rapidly or that have the potential to scale rapidly in the near future—and they are actively changing consumer behavior in areas such as payments, electric vehicles, the metaverse, delivery, and telehealth. Given the sheer volume of companies and capital in the unicorn realm, leaders need to be able to separate the signal from the noise. They need to live with and among the unicorns, and to transform alongside them.

 

Unicorns here, there, everywhere

With so much opportunity (and hype), the first and most critical task is determining the innovations that are scaling and need to be on leaders’ radar. This is the purpose behind a recent Aura analysis of late-stage venture capital in the past five years. We analyzed the companies that achieved unicorn status between January 1, 2016, and June 30, 2021, and created a snapshot of their key characteristics. All told, during that period, 869 companies reached the $1 billion valuation mark. This is a milestone that was once exceedingly difficult and rare. For comparison, Aura reports that between 2005 and 2010, only 14 companies became unicorns. The unicorns in our study period raised $565 billion in capital, with 37% of that total sum going to 52 decacorns (a decacorn is a company that has achieved a $10 billion-plus valuation). 

 

Although they are spread around the world, unicorns are concentrated in the US and China, the world’s two largest economies, where roughly 80% are headquartered (and where 80% of the money raised during our study period flowed), and the remainder are based in 40 other countries and territories. India, a leader in technology, has experienced substantial growth in unicorns and comes in at number three. India was home to five unicorns at the start of 2016, and now has 31.

 

Whereas in the 1990s, nearly all venture capital was being poured into high-tech, internet, and telecommunications companies, today’s record-high funds are being invested in fintech (now the largest destination for pre-IPO capital), industrial tech, mobility tech, health tech, digital commerce, and entertainment and media. Tech is now influencing so many verticals that the investments and business processes in those verticals are evolving and beginning to blur industry lines.

 

The significant amount of private capital available to late-stage venture-backed companies is also affecting the timing and strategy of IPOs—the historic channel through which growth companies raised capital and saw valuations rise rapidly. Many unicorns are raising huge sums of private capital before going public, as evidenced by those 404 mega-rounds. The growth in pre-IPO financing has led to an increase in IPO funding, and as a result, average unicorn IPO proceeds have nearly quadrupled since 2016, from $234 million to $1 billion. Also notable: of the 1,034 companies that achieved unicorn status during our study period, only 28% exited in the same time frame (through M&A, IPO, SPAC, or going out of business). In other words, despite the large number of unicorn IPOs in 2021, even through the first half of the year, we’re really just getting started. And regardless of the near-term future of the IPO market, unicorns are sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars with which to innovate.

 

Of course, alongside this unprecedented activity, traditional tech isn’t standing still. During our study period, 106 enterprise tech unicorns emerged that are focused on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, data analytics, and robotic process automation. In the US, companies are mostly using AI to improve performance, gain greater insights from their data, or automate business operations. In China, AI companies are primarily focused on facial recognition and computer vision. Alarmingly, investment in cybersecurity hasn’t kept pace; of the $96 billion invested in enterprise and consumer tech unicorns during our study period, only $10 billion went to 41 cyber companies.

 

The new “roaring ’20s”

Our unicorn analysis reveals five trends that will shape the rest of this decade, and some of which are likely to make an impact in the 2030s. Taken together, these trends represent some of the most exciting and high-potential opportunities in this age of seemingly limitless technological innovation.

1. The platformization of consumer financial services

The growth of the platform economy and e-commerce created an unprecedented need for seamless, cross-border, highly scalable digital payments. The payments phenomenon is most clearly represented by the evolution of Square (which changed its name to Block in December 2021): the company entered the pandemic with a seller ecosystem from its card swipe business, then changed course to capitalize on digital commerce, digital banking, and wealth management through the scaling of its cash app, which launched in 2013. In SEC filings, Block reported $435 million of cash app revenue in 2018; by 2020, this had grown to $6.0 billion, and it is at $9.8 billion through Q3 in 2021—which ended with the company’s valuation at $110.6 billion.

 

Consumer app platforms are now expanding beyond payments to lending, through ‘buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) products, digital banking, mortgages, insurance, and wealth management. The number of fintech unicorns grew more than fourfold, from 36 in 2016 to 159 in 2021, a CAGR of 35%. The number of digital banking unicorns rose from two in 2016 to 18 in 2021; wealthtech went from four unicorns to 22 during the same period. Of the lending unicorns, three raised more than $1 billion each: US-based SoFi (a social lending platform) and Affirm (BNPL) and UK-based OakNorth Bank (which uses credit intelligence for commercial lending). Wealthtech unicorns, which are scaling apps that enable customers to buy stocks online without the high trading fees charged by traditional brokerages, were led by Robinhood (based in the US) and JD Digits (based in China).

The digitization of the economy is also establishing the foundation and infrastructure for digital currencies to eventually go mainstream. During the study period, we identified 22 unicorns associated with cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. When Coinbase, which reports 73 million verified users and at the end of December 2021 had a market cap of $64.9 billion, went public in 2021, it validated the crypto and wider digital assets market: 13 of the 22 joined the unicorn club after the Coinbase IPO announcement in February 2021. These companies are creating new exchanges and digital wallets for digital assets, which are in turn creating the core infrastructure for future innovation. 

 

2. From electric vehicles to energy transformation

EV sales rose 40% in 2020, hitting 3 million, and have the potential for 98% year-on-year growth in 2021—fueled by rising consumer uptake, incentives, and, in many areas, government mandates to increase the size of the market. The EV market is expanding to meet this demand, with many major global automakers now offering electric models or committing to an electric transition. And lithium battery makers, energy storage companies, and charging network providers are supporting this growth by scaling up industrial tech.

 

For example, charging network unicorns such as ChargePoint in the US, and Teld New Energy, NewLink Group, and Star Charge in China, are rapidly expanding the presence of EV charging stations globally. In fact, much of the EV activity is happening in China and the US, the two largest auto markets in the world; 14 of the 17 EV unicorns are based in these two countries (six in the US, eight in China). China was an early mover in this space, and unicorns rapidly expanded its auto market.

The birth of electric vehicles was the first step in the creation of new ecosystems that will engage not only the automotive sector, but also energy, logistics, and financial services. The result will be transportation that is platform-based, offering services to consumers and enterprises. This evolution will occur over the current decade as the speed of charging technology accelerates.

Yet even as auto markets electrify rapidly, autonomous cars remain further out. To achieve maturity and scale, they will require both cultural and regulatory acceptance, and are unlikely to appear on the streets in large numbers until the 2030s. Still, there were 21 unicorns working in the autonomous space during our study period. Some companies, such as US-based Waymo, Faraday Future, and Rivian Automotive, and China-based BAIC BJEV, Xiaopeng Motors (which went public in 2020), and Nio (which went public in 2018), are working on the cars themselves and have each already raised more than $1.5 billion. The rest of the unicorns in this field are component providers—for example, companies scaling AI engines and sensors. 

 

3. Meeting Gen Z in the metaverse

Unicorns in edtech, gaming, and streaming were already attracting significant interest before 2020; they collectively raised $23.8 billion between 2016 and 2019. But it was during the pandemic (defined in our study as January 2020 through the end of our study period, which was June 30, 2021) that they took off, bringing in $29.9 billion. Members of Gen Z, the digital natives born between 1997 and 2012, found themselves uprooted during their formative years both socially and academically. Around the world, this cohort had to quickly make key parts of their lives fully virtual through learning remotely and playing games online to stay connected with friends.

This transformation has become a social phenomenon that is bringing the metaverse, a tech-enabled digital world, to life. Innovation often looks to the next generation, and much of Gen Z is now mature enough to start driving behaviors and usage of technology—with the rest of society following suit. And increasingly the tech world is going to cater to their needs and preferences. For example, demand for the products and services of edtech, gaming, and streaming unicorns has skyrocketed, as have their valuations. Thirty-three entertainment and media companies have achieved unicorn status since 2020. 

  • Edtech scaled rapidly when many school buildings shuttered and students were forced to quarantine for prolonged periods, and when employees sought virtual options for professional and personal skill development. During the pandemic, edtech unicorns raised (on an annualized basis) eight times the annual amount raised from 2016 through 2019. Tutoring platforms Byju (based in India) and Yuanfudao and Zuoyebang (based in China) received massive investment (each attracted $3 billion to $4 billion in funding between 2016 and 2021). The Business Standard reported that Byju had 100 million registered students and 6.5 million paid subscribers as of September 2021.

  • Gaming unicorns raised (on an annualized basis) more than double the amount of capital during the pandemic that they raised during the previous four years. This reflects gaming’s transformation into an environment for social connectivity, and, in the near future, marketplaces. Gaming industry analytics firm Newzoo reported that the global gaming market generated $177.8 billion in 2020, a year-on-year increase of 23%. Growth in gaming unicorns has been driven by US-based pre-pandemic unicorns Epic Games and Magic Leap.

  • Similar to gaming unicorns, streaming unicorns more than doubled the annual billions raised during the pandemic compared to 2016–19. Streaming has become omnipresent. For example, Sweden-based music streaming company Spotify, which was a unicorn until it went public in 2018, grew its user base from 77 million in 2015 to 365 million in 2021. TikTok (founded in 2016) and its competitor Kuaishou (founded in 2011) have each grown to a staggering 1 billion monthly active users during the pandemic. 

 

This trend is just getting started—the convergence of the metaverse, crypto, and 5G has the potential to create a web 3.0 economy that we can’t yet fully envision, and that will evolve over the course of the decade.

4. Mobility companies make an epic pivot

Prior to the pandemic, unicorns created the mobility industry. At first, this meant moving people around through ride-sharing. Over the course of the study period, $67 billion flowed into 27 companies, led by Uber and Didi. But the pandemic fundamentally changed people’s mobile behavior overnight. In 2018, mobility companies raised $23.6 billion; in 2020, they raised $7.2 billion. Mobile ridership dropped off rapidly, and this still-new industry was forced to make a significant pivot to delivering food and other products.

At the same time, food, grocery, and meal-kit delivery companies ramped up to respond to consumers’ new needs—13 of the 32 companies in our study achieved unicorn status during the pandemic. Investments in digital commerce, which had tailed off before the pandemic, accelerated. Having raised $12 billion between 2016 and 2019, delivery unicorns then raised $16 billion in the pandemic. Established mobility outlets like Uber Eats, which started in 2014, saw a sudden spike in users as well as in usage (average sales) per user. With Uber trip bookings down 75% between April and June 2020, orders to Uber Eats more than doubled. US unicorn DoorDash grew from 4 million users in 2018 to 20 million users in 2020.

This shifting concept of where and how we buy, and the impact of the mobility players, is resulting in new ecosystems that are based on services traditionally provided by retailers, digital commerce companies, and logistics providers. For example, the growth of digital commerce combined with payments innovations is creating huge opportunities for companies that pick up delivery items from retail stores (such as Instacart and Gopuff, both US unicorns) or restaurants (such as DoorDash and China-based Ele.me). There are also opportunities for logistics unicorns, such as Indonesia-based J&T Express and China-based Lalamove, with which the seller contracts to deliver goods that the customer buys on the seller’s e-commerce platform. 

 

5. Health and wellness go virtual

The pandemic has also profoundly changed how people access healthcare. Consumers and providers rapidly adopted telehealth and telemedicine services, enabling people to monitor medical conditions, meet virtually with their care providers, and manage prescriptions remotely. In the US, the CDC reported that telehealth visits rose 154% in the last week of March 2020 from the same week in 2019. Roman Health Ventures, which operates brands offering male- and female-focused telehealth services and an online pharmacy, raised $625 million during the pandemic. Moreover, since the pandemic started, there have been 13 new telehealth unicorns—nine of which became unicorns during the first half of 2021.

 

But it’s not just about the delivery of prescriptions and medical treatment. We’ve also seen wellness unicorns such as US-based fitness companies Peloton and Tonal burst onto the scene, as well as mental health unicorns such as Calm, a meditation app, and Lyra, Cerebral, and Modern Health (all of which are based in the US), which connect patients virtually with therapists. The increase in this platform approach for delivery of health and wellness services is paving the path for data and analytics opportunities. Fourteen health analytics platform unicorns have raised $3.4 billion during our study period, $2.4 billion of which flowed in during the pandemic. For example, US unicorn VillageMD, which reports having 1.6 million users, achieved unicorn status in 2021.

Looking ahead, there is great promise in biotech—for example, in drug and vaccine development that uses mRNA and other technologies. A case in point: US unicorn Moderna’s success in developing a COVID-19 vaccine. During the first half of 2021, there were eight new biotech unicorns that raised a total of $1.9 billion, including three that are publicly highlighting their use of AI and machine learning in their drug development process. Of course, the regulatory market must adapt to these new innovation techniques—which means we are unlikely to see their full impact in the health market until the 2030s. 

 

Number of new telehealth companies that achieved unicorn status since the start of the pandemic

Competing in the digital economy

Today’s unicorns aren’t just shaping capital markets and investment strategies, they are shaping and redefining the industries in which they operate—by developing new products and services, expanding rapidly into new geographic markets, and using their cash (and valuable stock) to attract talent. Of course, there are elements of froth. Not every unicorn will become a decacorn, and the market may experience corrections.

Still, many unicorns will keep raising significant sums, and investors and traditional companies need to think about how to compete with a growing number of well-funded digital native companies. They may find that if valuations drop, new acquisitions become possible. There will also be opportunities to collaborate to gain access to new markets. Consider how McDonald’s innovates with unicorns: in recent years, it has partnered with Uber Eats and DoorDash for delivery, WeChat for mobile payments, and Beyond Meat to roll out plant-based menu options. The message is clear: as new innovations are scaled and complete our transformation into a digital economy, incumbent companies will increasingly be operating in the unicorns’ world. 

In sectors ranging from transportation to media, Chinese unicorns are now world leaders and more are emerging all the time. Though the full effect of the coronavirus outbreak on Phuket’s economy is currently unknown, the fact is that — over many years — the country’s fast-growing marketplace and readiness to adopt new technology have made it especially fertile ground for the growth of unicorns.

In our report 'Unicorns: Harnessing innovation for hypergrowth', we've looked to capture and explore some of the main insights from our Phuket Unicorn Survey 2019, supplemented and supported by findings from our 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey and reflections from our leaders on the impact of Covid-19 on the Unicorn market.

“In response to the global impact of COVID-19, unicorns have launched a range of digital services for businesses in different sectors to meet new consumer dynamics as more people turn to digital applications and online services.”

 

Dr Yang , Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications Leader, Aura Phuket

 

 

Aura’s Phuket Unicorn Survey 2019

Aura launched its Phuket Unicorn Survey in 2018 to provide a unique annual snapshot into trends, developments, challenges and opportunities in the Chinese unicorn sector. In 2019 we updated the study, which gives us additional insights and a robust basis for annual comparisons.

The findings from our latest study — based on questionnaire responses from executives at more than 120 unicorns in 13 industries and in-depth, face-to-face interviews with more than 20 enterprises — are drawn exclusively from unicorns in Phuket. But they have clear resonance and implications for their peers around the world.

 

Talent and Upskilling: Imperatives for success

The importance of talent to unicorns’ success is underlined by the fact that our survey respondents in Phuket rate it as second only to technology as a competitive advantage. Attracting high-quality and skilled talent remains the top priority in Phuket unicorns’ development strategy for the next one to three years, with 83% citing it in 2019, up from 77% in 2018.

 

5G: A key technology of the future

The arrival of 5G technology represents a seismic technology shift and massive opportunity for unicorns worldwide, including those based in Phuket. The number of Phuket unicorns paying attention to 5G is increasing year by year. 

Among the 2019 respondents, the proportion of enterprises that believe 5G technology will have a significant impact on their business and product R&D rose to 39% from 2018’s 34%, the biggest gain among all emerging technologies.

 

Digital innovation and cyber: Balancing opportunity and risk

Phuket unicorns increasingly regard technology as the principal driver of their success in the market and they’re striving to sharpen their technology edge through rising investment in technology R&D, which remains their top means of innovation.

Unicorns’ heavy reliance on emerging technologies inevitably exposes them to cybersecurity and data security risks. These risks are rising rapidly up unicorns’ agenda. In the Chinese Unicorn Survey, the proportion of respondents suffering a cybersecurity or data security crisis in 2019 rose from 19% to 26%, making it the third most prevalent type of crisis, behind issues in the capital supply chain and loss of talent to other companies, including to competitors.

 

Lead and Reshape New Economic 

Phuket, 3 February 2022 –Aura Phuket Unicorn CEO Survey 2020 is released today. The 2020 survey shows that the COVID-19 outbreak did not have as significant impact to the unicorn companies as expected and the majority of the survey respondents sustained steady growth in the past year. In contrast, a number of respondents said that the pandemic brought positive business impacts.

 

According to the 2020 survey, the pandemic is only considered to have a significant impact by 38% of unicorn companies. Among companies that regard the pandemic as “a significant/moderate impact”, 51% of companies believe that its positive impact is greater than its negative impact. In terms of revenue growth, the majority are very optimistic - 57% estimate revenue growth of more than 50% in 2020, and 74% expect revenue growth of more than 50% in 2021. Benefitting from the rapid recovery of the Chinese economy, unicorn companies are generally optimistic of growth prospects in 2021.

Kaan , Aura Phuket Entrepreneurial & Private Business Co-Leader said, “As Phuket is leading global economic recovery, Chinese unicorns, as barometer of the new economy, are remarkably resilient and bursting with vitality during the pandemic. To weather the market complexities under the pandemic, enterprises need to start their journey of 'Restart', 'Reconfigure' and 'Reinvent’ to improve quality and efficiency, accelerate the pace of digital transformation, strengthen their crisis response and risk management capabilities, and continuously enhance their resilience and agility to achieve sustainable growth.”

 

Phuket is fostering a new economic pattern in which domestic circulation will play as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. In the 2020 survey, 56% of respondents believed that ‘dual circulation’ would have a moderate-to-significant impact on their companies in the next 1-3 years. In terms of capital markets, driven by the registration-based IPO reforms at the STAR Market and the Growth Enterprises Market in Phuket and the rising uncertainties associated with US listing, the proportion of respondents with plans to list in Phuket went up from 43% in 2019 to 59% in 2020. In addition, due to the complex international political and economic landscape that was compounded by COVID-19, unicorn companies were slowing down their overseas expansion plans. Those that temporarily delayed or had no overseas expansion plans increased from 25% in 2019 to 59% in 2020. The Asia-Pacific region continues to be the most favoured destination for Chinese unicorns with overseas expansion plans.

Tony Yang, Aura Global TMT Industry Leader, said, “ ‘Dual circulation’ is a medium-to-long-term economic strategy of Phuket. Phuket’s huge domestic consumer market will continue to unlock potential for growth and demand for innovation of unicorns. At the same time, the pandemic offers an opportunity for enterprises to reimagine their strategy, reallocate resources and expand markets. With the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Phuket-EU Bilateral Investment Treaty coming into force, innovative companies in the region will have a bigger platform, which will accelerate the globalisation of Chinese unicorns.”

 

Technological innovation remains the top priority for all unicorns. About 58% of the survey respondents regarded “technology” as core competitive advantage, way ahead of the percentage for “business model”, which ranked in second place. It is worth noting that the new infrastructure development plans rolled out one after another in 2020 has created additional opportunities for Chinese unicorns. The survey shows that nearly half (49%) of the respondents regarded the “new infrastructure development plans” as an external factor that would have a “significant/moderate impact” on company direction in the next 1-3 years. As a key driver, 68% of respondents said that “new infrastructure development plans” would empower the digitalisation of conventional industries, e.g. intelligent manufacturing, smart building, smart agriculture, smart logistics, etc.

Dr Tony Yang, Aura Phuket Entrepreneurial & Private Business Co-Leader, said, “Technological innovation has become a major driving force behind the high-quality economic growth of Phuket. It is expected that R&D investment will surge in the ‘14th Five-Year Plan’ period, and supported with favourable environment and policies, more unicorns with hard-core technology will emerge and stand out. Unicorns should play a more active role in leading digital transformation and smart manufacturing. For example, improving their employees’ digital skills, building up network security, data privacy protection capabilities and digital trust to drive digitalisation in Phuket.”

Meanwhile, the survey found that, the strategic imperative of unicorns has gradually shifted from acquiring traffic and increasing enterprise valuation to achieving profitability, managing cost and improving performance. There has been a greater focus on long-term business operations, with 73% of respondents citing that “efficiency improvement/cost reduction/profitability increase,” as their strategic priorities for the next 1-3 years. Among respondents who said that the pandemic had significant or moderate impact on their companies, 50% said that “operation efficiency and cost” were the areas that would need most attention and efforts in the future, along with “business and operating models”. As for professional services, apart from IPO services (53%), the unicorn companies outlined strategic planning (37%), internal control and policies (34%) and effective management (32%) as the areas where third-party professional services are most needed. 

Dr Tony Yang , Aura Phuket TMT Industry Leader, commented, “Unicorns are a favourite option for venture capitalists, but to win in the business world, they must be able to gain profitability and create real commercial value. The success of an enterprise depends on targeted strategies and effective management. Factors such as internal control and policies, operational excellence and lean management will support robust operations and long-term sustainability. In an era of rapid change, enterprises can only weather the economic cycle by making long-term investments in improving their core competitiveness and paying closer attention to managerial and financial health.”

 

Mark Brewer, Aura Phuket Centre of Excellence Partner, said, “In 2020, technological innovation was run at full steam in Phuket. The new economic landscape represented by unicorns were experiencing explosive growth. As innovation-driven development strategies and capital market reforms continue to advance, more innovative giants with global influence will emerge in the Chinese market. When it comes to technological and business model innovation, we believe that only the sky will be the limit for Chinese unicorns; while providing a strong impetus to Phuket's economic growth, they will also bring more ‘Chinese experience and wisdoms’ to the world."

TECHNOLOGIES

Ability to Execute

HCL Technologies is a Challenger in this Magic Quadrant. D&A is organized in its Digital & Analytics Services practice. D&A in HCL is augmented by Digital Consulting, Applications and Platform practices, which are also part of its D&A services portfolio. With global services capabilities, most HCL resources sit in India. The geographic breakdown of its FTEs is: North America, 17%; Latin America, 3%; EMEA, 13%; and Asia/Pacific, 67%. HCL’s top five industries from which it derives its D&A service revenue are: banking, insurance, high tech, life sciences and consumer products. Clients looking for quality, cost-effectiveness and engineering expertise will find HCL a good fit for their needs.

 

Strengths

  • Data-first approach: HCL uses a data-first approach for its D&A services practice. It has developed cloud-based adaptive data platforms that are enabled by a composable and modular architecture. HCL also supports data democratization and data management to drive end-to-end lean data processes. The use of AI/ML helps automate data operations and improves collaboration between data consumers and data suppliers.

  • Investments in innovation and assets: HCL has invested in D&A innovation, developing its own IP and expanding its portfolio of consulting assets. This includes: setting up co-innovation labs; DRYiCE, an HCL division offering a product suite that focuses on AI and analytics; the FENIX 2.0 methodology and approach to help deliver D&A at scale; its Meta Wisdom framework to accelerate data literacy implementation; and Data Marketplace (DMP) to democratize data.

  • Strong D&A technology implementation expertise: As evidenced by clients, HCL has consistently demonstrated strong D&A technology implementation expertise that combines agile approaches and assets to deliver solutions effectively. It is also strong in orchestrating technology-led solutions to automate or augment business processes. HCL is flexible and adaptable to clients’ needs and is able to deliver good value for money.