Giulia Emiliani

Giulia Emiliani

Vice President, Business Consulting

What will all organisations have in common in the future, across industries and geographies? Now, this is a bold question, seeking an equally bold answer. However, you might find that the answer isn't as far-fetched as the question itself.

In the early stages of bidding for advisory work, prospective clients have asked, "what is your 'gut feel' solution for our organisation?" This enquiry arises before any meaningful information about their strategy or operating model is shared.

My response to this question involves envisioning what all successful organisations will share in the future — a long-term future vision, which is essential for survival in an era of amplified competition driven by rapid technological advancements and innovation.

Our vision: the future operating model

In such a fiercely competitive landscape, excellence becomes the only option, and can only be attained by focusing on doing the things that each do best. For those familiar with macroeconomics concepts, David Ricardo and his theory of Comparative Advantage of the early 19th century has never been more relevant.

So, how will companies adapt in this landscape? Organisations will streamline, shedding much of their operations to external partners, or automate, or eliminate altogether the need to perform certain tasks. Instead, efforts will be focused on activities that create value to the business and differentiate them in the eyes of their customers.

This evolution will redefine conventional 'support functions' (such as technology, finance, legal, risk, compliance, HR, operations), streamlining them to become leaner while positioning them as strategic partners to the business. Furthermore, it will blur the lines between ‘the business’ and other support functions within the organisation.

In this paradigm, success will favour individuals who cultivate skills that appear to reside on opposite ends of the cognitive spectrum, yet complement each other in ways that generate surprising insights. Consider a technologist with exceptional business acumen, a scientist brimming with creativity and storytelling prowess, or even a lawyer equipped with DJ skills adept at intuiting the crowd and selecting the perfect track to unite disparate parties on the dancefloor — or indeed, at the negotiations table. Think of Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, or Shopify’s President Harley Finkelstein.

The future operating model will be lean and interconnected, leveraging information and data to connect human and artificial intelligence inside and outside the organisation in serving the business, customers, and society.

Key areas of focus for today’s leaders

So, what does this mean for the leaders of today? Where should the board, the C-suite and other team leaders focus resources to ensure competitiveness in the future?

The first imperative must be to delineate the activities performed within the organisation, discerning those that genuinely create value and set the business apart as unique differentiators. This clarity guides strategic initiatives, ensuring resources are directed where they matter most. After all, why invest in automating processes that won't be part of the organisation's future? 

With this in mind, the organisation can decide which parts to develop, optimise, augment or automate. For the rest, the organisation should explore the most effective ways to collaborate with external partners. Overall, to truly prepare for the future, organisations must create a clear picture of their future operating model.

A few things can be said though, about key areas of investment which are likely to emerge as priorities for organisations aiming to remain competitive in the future:

  • Developing a culture and capability which uses information and insight to underpin future decisions, validating actions taken and driving continuous performance improvement can provide a competitive edge.
  • Investing in data analytics technologies and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) is key to enable interconnectivity of valuable data assets, both internally and externally.
  • Continuing the journey towards using cloud solutions and distributed ledger technology will also support easy transitions towards a connected and lean operating model.
  • Organisations aspiring to thrive will need to prioritise sustainability, aligning with evolving customer values.
  • Developing a robust change capability will embed continuous innovation and adaptability into the organisation's DNA, ensuring strategic choices come to fruition.

While I'm not suggesting that every organisation must immediately invest in the aforementioned areas, I firmly believe that today's leaders should cultivate a vision for their future organisational landscape.

The purpose of this blog is to be thought-provoking and guide towards a reflection on what really matters to us, for our organisation, business, customers and society. This is the premise of any successful organisation.

Our approach at CGI

At CGI, we champion this vision, uniting a diverse team of experts across strategy, operations, technology, data, sustainability, and change, who are dedicated to guiding organisations into the modern age. Our commitment to innovation and fresh perspectives empowers clients to thrive today, and into the future.

Curious about what this means for your organisation? Reach out and let's explore the possibilities together. You can also find out more about how we can help in our target operating model and organisation design brochure.

About this author

Giulia Emiliani

Giulia Emiliani

Vice President, Business Consulting

Giulia is a management consultant at CGI UK, specialising in operating model design and transformation.