6 minute read 10 Oct 2023
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How managed services can accelerate business transformation

By Paul Clark

EY Global Vice Chair, Managed Services

Leader of change. All-in on helping clients achieve their vision. Proud husband and father. Sports fan.

6 minute read 10 Oct 2023

As operating challenges intensify, a managed services approach to critical functions can deliver better business outcomes and drive growth.

In brief
  • Economic uncertainty and geopolitical volatility have exposed weaknesses in traditional operating models.
  • The burden of running key functions, including tax, finance, risk, compliance and cybersecurity, is increasing, diverting resources away from transformation.
  • Managed services can give leaders the freedom and confidence to push forward, to drive the innovation that creates long-term value.

Traditional operating models are no longer fit for purpose. Higher costs, scarce talent and supply chain pressures are forcing business leaders to spend too much time – and money – just trying to keep the wheels of business turning, when the pace of change demands they move forward.

Doing more with less


of tax and finance leaders plan to reduce costs

Overcoming a legacy of underinvestment

Much of the problem is that the current operating challenges have brought to a head the cumulative problems built up over years of underinvestment. Many businesses have postposed investment in new technology, creating multiple manual workarounds. But now legacy systems are cracking under the pressure of increased remote working, regulatory demands for transparency and digital reporting, and greater expectations from customers to transact and interact online.

Unless leaders solve the inadequacies of current operations, they remain doomed to repeat the crisis-driven cycle of “fix and repeat”, wasting valuable talent and budget that would better be directed at innovation and growth. When your best and brightest spend their days making sure critical functions are operating and that information is valid, credible and timely, they aren’t focusing on the key strategic decisions that drive transformation.

Transformation to run better

Transformation is a term used so frequently in business now that its true meaning can be lost. It’s not about implementing more technology or making some improvements to internal functions – transformation is about reimagining the entire business model to be more resilient and agile.

For many businesses, the path to reinvention is through managed services. More companies are moving to this new way of operating, because of its ability to facilitate :

Opening the mindset: A common feature of companies that fare better in tough times is a willingness to try new things. With difficult operating conditions set to continue for some time, this ability to think differently will define successful businesses. Managed services helps business do this in two ways. First, it brings a fresh approach to board-critical but not business-differentiating functions, facilitating them to perform better. And, second, by taking on these functions, it frees leaders to focus on the innovation that will drive revenue growth.

Reshaping spending: When companies shift major functions such as tax, finance, risk and compliance to managed services, they better manage huge upfront and fixed capital costs and instead consume services in a flexible, on-demand way. Managed services moves beyond Business Process Outsourcing to leverage providers’ core domain knowledge and technology investments to make key functions more efficient and effective. This allows companies to reap immediate cost savings while reshaping their approach to capital investment.

Tapping insights to fuel innovation: Successful transformation will enable faster, better decisions that fuel smarter innovation. Managed services can provide the deep industry expertise, combined with sophisticated data analytics, that guide smart strategic shifts.

Improving agility: Recent supply chain disruption and increasing costs have heightened the importance of the need for businesses to adapt fast to change. Building this agility into operations will require companies to renew their focus on forming new ecosystems with partners, including with managed services providers.

Building confidence: Despite volatile conditions, businesses must not be timid  – those that make bold moves now while other companies struggle to stay on top of day-to-day pressures can gain a competitive advantage. Confidence will be key, and this is where a trusted managed services provider can help, taking care of changing industry and regulatory obligations across all operational jurisdictions, so leaders can progress opportunities.

Accelerating digital: Many businesses were already enhancing operations with digital tools and capabilities but the rapid pace of change in how we work and live, accelerated in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, means this shift is now urgent. Managed services gives companies the ability to fast track digital adoption, through immediate, cost-effective access to technologies such as AI, trusted intelligence and automation. Crucially the right provider offers the technical knowledge to master these, as well as the support to make enterprise-wide change, without big upfront costs, disruption or talent challenges.

Get ready for the new normal

Economic uncertainty and geopolitical volatility are likely to be the new normal for business. Resilience, confidence and agility will be essential to ride out difficult times and, just as importantly, be ready to seize opportunities in the future.

Managed Services gives organizations these capabilities, while lifting the burden of day-to-day pressures off leadership. With a better way to operate key functions, businesses have the freedom and confidence to focus on driving their business forward. It’s a faster, more effective route to transformation – giving companies access to the tools, talent and insights that will define success in a very different business landscape.


Traditional business models are under pressure to transform. Managed services can be a fast-track to change, enabling companies to leverage providers’ core domain expertise and technology investments to make key functions more efficient and effective. 

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About this article

By Paul Clark

EY Global Vice Chair, Managed Services

Leader of change. All-in on helping clients achieve their vision. Proud husband and father. Sports fan.