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Leaders vs Laggers

In our survey of 300 financial services organisations from five financial centres across APAC, two distinct group of respondents emerged – leaders who are more advanced in their digital transformations at 15% of the population and laggards at 85%.

Leaders are more advanced in their digital transformations and as a result are more asset light across work, workforce and workplace. They have made fundamental technology change that provides flexibility and reduces cost of change – not just redesigning their mobile apps. They are also more advanced in reorganising their workforce to source and utilise capabilities differently, and they are leveraging their real estate in new ways to improve the return on these significant assets.

To start Leaders do more than 60% of their business through digital channels and react more quickly to evolving customer needs with fortnightly or shorter releases of new products and features.

Interestingly, although Leaders are already more advanced in their transformations, they have bold aspiration to continue improving their operating model. 

But where are Laggers falling short? What are the barriers to close the gap?

In order to answer these questions, our survey focused on 3 key areas of the Asset Light Operating Model: WORK, WORKFORCE AND WORKPLACE


We looked at how organisations are delivering work and where they are making changes. Laggers (85% of the sample surveyed) are much more timid in their change aspirations regarding improving technology architecture, partnering with technology companies, cloud migration and adopting new ways of working. For example, only a third of respondents are considering microservice architecture, or partnership with Fintechs to uplift their capabilities, versus much larger percentages for Leaders.


On workforce, we assessed sourcing options, ways of working and future roles and training to complement existing capabilities. For example, although there seems to be a sweet spot in terms of balancing permanent and contingent (i.e. non-permanent) employees, our research shows that most Leaders aim to use contingent workforce options to provide flexibility to scale up and down as required (at lower cost), bring in new capabilities and deploy temporary specialist for short term projects. There is a greater willingness to use technology vendors and other types of sourcing options to supplement internal capabilities.


And lastly, we asked surveyed participants what they believe are the key trends in the workplace, including changes to customer facing real estate (e.g. branches/sales offices) and changes to head-office and non-customer facing premisses. In general, Laggers are not planning the same extent of change to real estate as leaders. Almost 80% of Laggers (vs. less than half of leaders) anticipate changes of 20% or less to the organisation’s footprint.

Leaders and Laggers are making different choices on what work adds the most value to their businesses and how do they best organise their workforce and utilise their workplace to get it done. In almost every category we surveyed Laggers are further behind in adopting asset light concepts. Many organisations should question and challenge themselves:

  • What work creates the most value for my business?
  • How do we go fast?What is the purpose of my workforce?
  • How do we scale up and down at lower cost and quicker?
  • How do we organise to react quicker to the market?
  • Where should we source our capabilities from?
  • What is the purpose of my workplace ?
  • How should we best utilise our real estate?

Our next blogs will explore in detail where laggers are falling short regarding WORK, WORKFORCE and WORKPLACE, and why is that so and what these organisations can do (and how) to close the gap.