Last month the Young MCA hosted the ‘Latest Technology Briefing’ with Nick Sinnott from BAE Systems Digital Intelligence, and Kate Marshall from IBM Consulting. Morgan Thomas, a Consultant in EY’s Technology Strategy and Transformation team, attended the briefing which spotlighted hyper-automation and quantum computing.
Morgan presents his blueprint for how young consultants can better understand what emerging technologies, such as hyper-automation and quantum computing, mean for all our clients.

Last month’s Latest Technology Briefing discussed the potential of hyper-automation and quantum computing. No doubt, young consultants finished the briefing feeling eager, and inspired in anticipation of the future. That said, it can be difficult to grasp what today’s emerging technologies will mean for tomorrow’s client projects.

Young consultants need structured approaches to think about emerging technologies and digital transformation. This will help us to ask more meaningful questions to understand our clients’ vision and to identify opportunities. The key is to avoid being blinded by emerging technologies as shiny objects1. Instead, young consultants should make sure the conversation is motivated by our clients’ purpose, vision, and strategy. This will help build trust in the conversation, and for our client relationships. It’s as easy as starting with the ‘so what, why, how, and what’.

So what?
By asking ‘so what’, young consultants should use what they know about emerging technologies as a discovery tool. Market expectations for emerging technologies will expose our clients’ assumptions for their strategy, competitive advantage, and customers. Emerging technologies not only offer new digital capabilities, but they also blur the strategic boundaries between our clients and their target markets. This is because new digital technologies often require interdependence on and complementary relationships with people, resources, and functions outside the client’s organisation2.

Young consultants should unpack our clients’ understanding of their growth drivers and barriers, including their intentions for market growth, efficiency, and customer-centricity. How do the promises of the latest emerging technologies support or disrupt these assumptions? What are the client’s intentions to both meet and shape the market?

No strategic discovery is comprehensive without visiting our clients’ aspirations for digital transformation. Digital transformation promises to integrate digital technologies to support strategy and better leverage growth drivers. To surface meaningful conversations, it is important to gauge the motivations for our clients’ digital transformation plans. How do the plans for digital transformation align and support the client’s vision for its strategic growth drivers?

By asking ‘why’, young consultants should explore why our clients’ business and operating models should be improved. Emerging technologies can offer new digital capabilities, which are a shared cornerstone of both business and operating models. Therefore, new digital capabilities present the opportunity to hypothesise for transformation.

For business models, emerging technologies offer our clients the opportunity to change, expand, and improve value propositions3. For example, products can be embedded with subscription-based digital services or clients can leverage platforms and ecosystems for value4. Next, new digital capabilities can also renew the focus on customers, particularly through personalised and seamless customer experiences5. In these ways, emerging technologies can change the scope, speed, scale, and source of value capture for business models6.

For operating models, emerging technologies can change how people, processes and technology are organised to deliver business models. As Nick Sinnott explained, the discovery and delivery of digital transformation is an opportunity to look at processes end-to-end. Renewed operating models can re-distribute resources in the value chain to be focused on more rewarding activities. Further, value streams can be better integrated by transitioning to a modular and layered architecture7, in order synergise across functions and to ‘assetize’ best practices8.

By asking ‘how’, young consultants should plan for how our clients can take advantage of emerging technologies through delivering digital transformation projects. The following six themes are important to consider:

  1. How will a transformative vision provide a blueprint for actionable goals and objectives?
  2. How will clearly defined business needs and requirements help our clients target their future state9?
  3. How will projects in the ‘transformation portfolio’ complement one another10?
  4. How will mapping architecture help our clients understand where their functional areas could be better integrated and aligned?
  5. How will intentionally collecting, structuring, and governing data improve how our clients serve their customers through actionable insights?
  6. How will our clients’ organisational identities and culture, support or resist change11?

By asking ‘what’, young consultants should investigate useful application scenarios for emerging technologies by proposing use cases. Use cases should be specific operational scenarios that address clear problems. Use cases should also illustrate what system and user interactions are required, and how proof-of-value can be measured12. Thinking through different use cases is an important exercise as it drives the conversation towards adoption-centric and customer-centric intentions.

Use case examples for the latest emerging technologies include:
1. Hyper-automation: Nick Sinnott explained that artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), business process management (BPM), and various platforms-as-a-service (PaaS) can be combined for hyper-automation solutions that reduce human intervention and better augment business processes. Nick demonstrated a hyper-automation use case that was delivered to reduce the Operating Costs of a Government and Infrastructure client.
2. Quantum computing: Kate Marshall spotlighted the potential for quantum computing to improve materials discovery and manufacturing optimisation for battery technologies, by better simulating the molecular reactions of battery chemicals.

Tell the story of a compelling future:
Asking ‘so what, why, how, and what’ is not exhaustive, but these questions serve as useful entry points to engage in conversations about what emerging technologies mean for our clients.

Of course, helping clients to transform is not as easy as aligning new digital capabilities with our clients’ purpose, vision, and strategy. Foundational changes are often needed for an enterprise’s architecture to integrate emerging technologies. Foundational changes may include data transformation (governance, conversion, normalisation, and integration), technology infrastructure upgrades, architecture mapping, process improvement and optimisation, renewed cybersecurity strategies and addressing human-resource skills gaps.

That said, foundational changes are more likely to happen and be successful if they are underpinned by clear strategic motivations to deliver on the promises of a compelling future. Thinking about what emerging technologies mean for our clients now, may very well be the launching pad for tomorrow’s client projects that deliver this compelling future.


  1. (2023). How to create an AI strategy during peak AI. London: EY LLP.
  2. Parker, G., Van Alstyne, M., & Choudary, S. (2016). Platform Revolution. New York City: W. W. Norton and Company.
  3. (2022). Digital Transformation Starts with Redefining your Value Proposition. Stamford: Gartner – Executive Leadership – Digital Business .
  4. Parker, G., Van Alstyne, M., & Choudary, S. (2016). Platform Revolution. New York City: W. W. Norton and Company.
  5. McKinsey Digital. (2023). Rewired to Outcompete. New York City: McKinsey Quartely.
  6. Bharadwaj, A., El Sawy, O., Pavlou, P., & Venkatraman, N. (2013). Digital Business Strategy: Toward a next Generation of Insights. MIS Quarterly, 471-482.
  7. Yoo, Y., Henfridsson, O., & Lyytinen, K. (2010). The new organising logic of digital innovation: An agenda for information systems research. Information Systems Research, 724-735.
  8. McKinsey Digital. (2023). Rewired to Outcompete. New York City: McKinsey Quartely.
  9. The Open Group. (2022). Phase B: Business Architecture. The TOGAF Standard .
  10. (2023). Why enabling AI’s full value requires top-down thinking. London : EY LLP.
  11. Wessel, L., Baiyere, A., Ologeanu-Taddei, R., Cha, J., & Blegind-Jensen, T. (2021). Unpacking the Difference Between Digital Transformation and IT-Enabled Organizational Transformation. Journal of the Association for Information Systems , 102-129.
  12. Maghazei, O., Lewis, M., & Netland, T. (2022). Emerging Technologies and the use case: A multi-year study adoption. Journal of Operations Management , 560-591.