Knowing your final destination and daring to change course - that's the challenge!

The corona pandemic shook the world. Even well-established companies suddenly realized that their future was uncertain - and therefore put a lot of effort into digitalization to stay on track. But to be truly future proof, you have to go even further. Anthony Van de Ven, Head of Digital, Technology & Alliances at KPMG Belgium, also knows this. "Companies should adopt a new mindset: an agile strategy in which the customer is central at every level."

"Agility is the new gold - according to the CEO Outlook Pulse Survey that KPMG organized in early 2021 among 500 CEOs in eleven regions. Is your company prepared for change? And can it adapt to sudden disruptions, such as a pandemic, technological innovations or new regulations? If so, then the chances of sustainable success increases. An important condition, however, is that you opt for a holistic approach and address all levels of your organization. The keywords? Be connected, powered and trusted.”

Connected - Build on the power of unity

"Traditional companies are often silo oriented. The different domains and departments are mainly concerned with their own operations and are therefore insufficiently attuned to each other. This is fatal when sudden and powerful changes in the market call for unified action. It is easier to maintain your balance with an integrated organization than with a bundle of silos. Moreover, at all times, in any context, you must not lose sight of the essence: the customer."

"That's why it's important to shift the focus from product to customer. That means: linking data to insights to get to know the customer through and through, and grafting the initiatives and processes onto the customer's needs. Do not limit yourself to a user-friendly website or flashy apps. If you really want to respond to the expectations of the customer, your organization must be connected, internally between the departments and externally with the customer and other stakeholders. The eight capabilities of KPMG (PDF, 185.8 KB) are a good guideline and, according to a study by Forrester Consulting, they double the impact for your company."

Powered - Make sure you have a strong foundation

"To align data and processes efficiently, you need an agile and flexible foundation. Many companies still rely on old legacy systems. They have swum through many waters, may have made a few acquisitions along the way and seen their processes evolve organically. But in doing so, they rarely asked themselves the question: can't it be done better?"

"That's exactly where there is huge growth potential. Are they exchanging their legacy systems for agile 'Software as a Service' (SaaS) solutions? If they are, then they are tapping into a new force to transform their business functions into modern, efficient operations. With SaaS, they reap the benefits of predictive data analytics and machine learning. They use information to detect changes and opportunities, and change course in a timely manner. This information is not only useful for sales and marketing. You need to deploy it within all your departments, and integrate it fully."


Growth opportunities? Bet on agility!

"Every company should draw up a roadmap for the next four years, with different scenarios. What if legislation changes? What if your biggest competitor comes up with something new? You need to prepare for each situation so you can make timely adjustments. The world is constantly changing - your processes, systems and employees must be prepared for this."

"Many companies therefore devote time and energy to picking up market signals. They actively search for new trends and innovations. And remain agile by looking over the wall at (new) competitors, who often don't drag along a heavy legacy."

"Why is it best to take a holistic approach to this? Because changes manifest themselves on different levels. Don't just focus on growing digitalization. The expectations of consumers and stakeholders are also evolving. They demand more and more transparency. Moreover, the legislative framework is constantly changing. Only with a holistic approach can you adequately respond to this complex reality. What's more: in that way you have twice the chance of a successful transformation."


Trusted - Map risks, create trust

"The more you break down boundaries with the outside world, the more you expose yourself to external risks. Just think of the dangers of cybercrime - and the potential consequences if confidential customer data is hacked."

"That's why it's important to map out all the risks, remembering that your organization is an ecosystem where everything is connected - including your customers and stakeholders. Putting more effort into data and artificial intelligence has implications for your cyber security and privacy. You have to fully commit to transparency at every step. That's how you gradually become a trusted partner that your stakeholders want to have a lasting relationship with."

"Reputation comes on foot and goes on horseback: you need a lot of time to build a solid reputation. Did you get negative coverage in the national press? Or did one of your departments incorrectly apply the GDPR legislation, resulting in a privacy leak? Then that reputation is quickly damaged. That's why you need to invest in risk management, a combination of regulation, compliance, cyber security and sustainability. On top of that, you need to stay committed to employees who consistently build your company's trust."

Mix it till you fix it

"The CEO Outlook Survey already made it clear that many companies see a future in the golden combination of agility-digitalization-confidence. You can't approach those three themes separately, you have to incorporate them into your entire organization."

"It's quite challenging to navigate that complex transformation while setting the right priorities. But agility doesn't mean you can't develop a long-term strategy. It's just essential to continually look ahead while realizing that change can be lurking behind every corner - with opportunities, dangers, and a potentially large impact. Always keep your final destination in mind, but dare to change course now and then. That way you'll be ready for any future."

Does your company want to lay the foundation for an agile organization? Then feel free to contact KPMG for an in-depth assessment. Our experts will take a close look at your business and identify bottlenecks and strengths. In doing so, you can rely on the various strategic KPMG alliances with MicrosoftCoupa and ServiceNow, among others. This means that your company will always be in control - even when things change unexpectedly. Reach out to our experts for more information.