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EY: The digital transformation journey

Companies are turning to the very cutting edge of technology and automation in a bid to improve how their business operates. And EY is among those firms helping pave the way for firms from across Ireland, with Tim Cush and Dean Philpott leading the way on the future of the digital transformation process


Tim Cush and Dean Philpott

Tim Cush and Dean Philpott

Tim Cush and Dean Philpott

The rise of technology and automation is no longer something confined to just our manufacturing and tech sectors.

And since the start of the pandemic, that need to improve efficiencies and streamline processes has never been more important for companies, both large and small.

For EY, it’s been front and centre across Ireland and the UK, and also utilising its wider global network to help firms adapt to the changing environment around them, and embracing the latest technology in order to improve business, and their customer relationships.

At EY in Belfast, Tim Cush and Dean Philpott are among those working at the cutting-edge – ensuring that technology is helping their clients become smarter, more efficient and streamlined.

Tim is a director in EY’s Technology Consulting practice, and leads the Intelligent Automation Practice across the Island of Ireland.

“No day is ever the same,” he said. “Over the years, my role has evolved from delivering tactical IT programmes, to helping clients solve a wide range of complex business problems applying strategic IT solutions.

“I have been working with clients to introduce difference technologies across the automation spectrum. Initially, the focus was just robotic process automation (RPA) but in recent years we have seen a shift in the demand in terms of the type of technologies in which they are interested in.

“The pressure is on technology leaders (chief information officers, chief technology officers and chief data officers) to strategically lead businesses forward. As digital acceleration transforms industries and customer and employee expectations, these leaders have a vital role in deploying technology and data to integrate functions, and enable new business models seamlessly.

“Some of this demand has been accelerated by the pandemic” Tim says. “Previously, organisations were looking to automation as a lever to release efficiencies across their workforce - today however, we are seeing a massive shift in how IT leaders are using the insights and trends that can be drawn from the complex technology solutions.”

A senior manager in the Digital and Emerging Technology Team, Dean has been a member of the EY team since graduation. He works with clients on the island of Ireland to setup and deliver programmes and initiatives involving the adoption and use of cutting-edge technologies and digital channels.

“I work very closely with Tim, and joined EY as a graduate just over six years ago,” he said.

“For us, it’s about exploring the various technologies available across the digital and emerging technology spectrum, such as intelligent automation, and applying these technologies to enhance the services and operations of our clients or solve challenges that they may be facing.

“People are always at the centre of what we do, whether that’s our own staff or our clients. It’s about how technology is enabling change for people, not driving it.”

Some of Dean’s recent projects include working on major large-scale infrastructure programmes across Ireland. “It’s about looking at what role emerging technologies can have in those areas to provide value,” he says.

The company says EY, like many of its clients, has seen increasing levels of home or hybrid-working, with travel levels currently reduced significantly.

“It’s been a seamless transition, from working at home to a hybrid environment,” Dean says. “At EY we are able to bring the power of our global firm and bring learnings and ideas from the US or Asia for example, to our clients here locally in Ireland.”

Tim said: “The key is working with our clients to understand the key business problem. Once you understand the challenges, it is much easier to apply the appropriate technology solution.

“Along with technology, it is also important to consider the impact on people and process combined. Bringing those elements together is a very compelling proposition.

“In more recent times, in the new norm now, it’s about how we can accelerate our innovation and digital agenda. The focus for clients now tends to be that they understand what process automation looks like. It’s about how they can turn the dial and enhance their services.”

The global network and reach which EY has offers its clients expertise across a range of locations and disciplines, and it’s something the team in Belfast are able to draw on to best service their needs.

And it works strongly on an all-island basis, dealing with a plethora of clients in both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

“The large scale infrastructure programme I’m working on is heavily resourced by Ireland,” Dean says. “But because we have the structure within EY we have lots of communities within the firm. That could be in EMEIA, or broader. We also have touchpoints across the month where we engage and share learnings from here in Belfast, with colleagues in Europe, and vice-versa.”

And Tim says the company has seen a “huge shift in terms of the types of services our clients are looking for”. “That has given us the scope to grow exponentially over the last few years.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have been working with a range of clients across all industries and sectors, for example we helped a local government entity provide automation around a complex process to provide data and insights in a more efficient and streamlined timeframe.”

Some of the technology and software includes Microsoft PowerApps through to RPA software, up to highly-complex cognitive automation through artificial intelligence.

As a result of changing demands, and the evolving societal and economic environment, EY has continued to see new opportunities emerging from a raft of sectors – each looking to develop and utilise new technologies to improve, and in some cases, transform, how they run their businesses.

“If you combine different types of technology together, such as natural language processing, machine-learning and artificial intelligence, it’s not just about achieving efficiencies, but helping a business transform their business operations,” Tim says.

“Coupled with the use of emerging technologies, is the use of data within an organisation.

“Combining the two, we are able to unlock insights and predict future trends within our clients’ businesses, enabling them to remain agile and adapt where required. Businesses today can equip themselves with a very powerful set of tools which can enable their people to make very informed decisions around their business operations and the services they offer to their customers.”