How Cost Management Needs to ‘Save to Transform’


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Not long ago, companies thought cost management was about reducing expenses. The notion then evolved and was viewed as a way to manage costs while also driving growth. Now, cost management is advancing further. Business leaders see it as a strategic initiative that is part of a larger transformation process.

In a conversation with Knowledge@Wharton, Chris Ittner, chair of the accounting department at Wharton, and Omar Aguilar, strategic cost transformation global market offering leader at Deloitte Consulting, discuss their research on how cost management is changing globally. Ittner has previously spoken with K@W about cost management in the digital age.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Knowledge@Wharton: Chris, how did you and Omar start working together on this global cost management study?

Chris Ittner: I’ve been teaching cost management to undergrads and graduate students, and one important question is: “Where’s the biggest bang for the buck? Which things that companies are doing [in cost management] are really paying off?” I got in contact with Omar because of the work they were doing [on this at Deloitte], and we jointly decided, “Let’s add some more evidence-based research on cost management success.” We were able to piggyback on some of the survey work that was being done at Deloitte.