Technological disruption, say 91 per cent of Canadian CEOs, is more of an opportunity than a threat. Indeed, over the last few years, especially with the effects of the pandemic, many organizations have accelerated technology adoption and shifted to a digital-first strategy. Yet digital transformation is no easy task. Whether it's executive misalignment on the direction of the transformation, choosing the right technology solution, different levels of digital maturity, the war for talent, or leveraging an ecosystem of reliable vendors, multi-faceted challenges can hinder the desired results.

A successful digital transformation therefore starts with a clear business objective and is followed by defined elements of the initiative—the "building blocks"—such as your strategy, architectural approach, processes and change management programs.

Join host Anna Leon at this #DXCoffeeChat series on digital enablement as she uncovers insights from industry leaders adopting SaaS and disruptive technologies to address business priorities.

Key takeaways from our DX Coffee Chats

How complex organizations can deliver on digital transformation projects and embrace change

Most organizations are under pressure to accelerate their digital agenda in a Web3 and i4.0 world. But imagine an organization with more than 7,000 systems spread across 250 departments—and each department acts like its own separate entity. Imagine that most of those 7,000 systems are sitting in legacy data centres. Then imagine this organization is responsible for serving every citizen in the country, regardless of their connectivity options or comfort level with technology.

That’s the reality for the Government of Canada—yet many organizations, both public and private, face similar challenges, such as sprawling systems, siloed data and shadow IT. In our fourth DX Coffee Chat, host Anna Leon, Partner in KPMG in Canada’s Technology Strategy and Transformation practice, talked to Catherine Luelo, Chief Information Officer of Canada, about delivering priority transformation projects and embracing change to provide better experiences to Canadians.

Accelerating the digital agenda

Driving digital transformation in a complex environment requires far more than changing business processes and deploying technology. Digital transformation is a “muscle” that’s being built up across government, said Luelo. But to make that work, there’s a need to prioritize—because it’s impossible to transform all 7,000 systems and 250 departments at once while ensuring this work is underpinned by security and privacy commitments, while narrowing the gap on the digital divide.

Here are some key takeaways from our DX Coffee Chat on how a sprawling, complex organization is accelerating digital transformation:

  • Embedding a shared vision for digital across your organization and its culture: Technology is rapidly evolving—but it’s important to consider how this evolution will affect people and processes. One of the most difficult parts of any transformational project is change management. “As we’re looking at some of these large, transformational programs within government, it’s important to make sure we’re supporting the departments that are delivering modernization—that we are challenging them to not only get the technology right but to make sure that our hard-working public servants and Canadians are equipped to receive it,” said Luelo. Any complex organization should consider people and processes, not just technology, on their DX journey.
  • Boosting talent development to enable digital transformation: “Government delivers technology that supports all Canadians with some of our programs supporting those who are most vulnerable,” said Luelo. “We get to do all of this really, inspiring, meaningful, purpose-driven work.” But Canada has a talent gap. The vacancy rate in government in the Digital space is high, but many private sector organizations—from banking to transportation—are in a similar situation. “I think we would all benefit in the country if we had a more active exchange of talent between private sector and public sector,” said Luelo. “There are many things that government can learn from private sector and many things to learn and contribute to in public service. It would be a wonderful opportunity for us to exchange talent.”
  • Complexities in systems integration and adoption: The complexity of government is enormous and many of its systems are in need of modernization and in some cases are over 50 years old.. Those systems aren’t necessarily a transformational target; they need to be replaced—and cloud will help to accelerate that. The Holy Grail will be to modernize systems and integrate data across departments so there’s a common digital credential program, “so you don’t have (40+) different logins to get into government,” said Luelo. “Having worked in very customer-intensive industries, I’m very tuned into what that digital storefront experience feels like.” That means any end-user should be able to access any service across any channel and have the same experience. In other words, there’s “no wrong front door.”
  • Capitalizing on cloud and emerging technologies: The adoption of emerging technologies plays a key role in accelerating digital transformation. The Government of Canada is doing some interesting work with automation and artificial intelligence to improve program delivery as well as quantum computing, particularly in the cybersecurity domain. But while Luelo is fascinated by the metaverse and Web3 technologies being leveraged to improve the lives of Canadians, she said it’s important to also focus on core technologies in this universe. While it’s not new, cloud will be a game changer in the public sector, since it can be used as a lever for modernization and allow governments to be far more agile in delivering services to citizens. The challenge for government—and for any organization, public or private, large or small—is to carve out space for innovation, while still getting the basics right.

Are you ready for the metaverse?

The metaverse is an evolving concept that’s rapidly earning a spot on business leaders’ agendas. Yet, many are unclear on how their organization can fuse with the metaverse and other emerging tech in a way that aligns with their overall digital transformation efforts.

In our first DX Coffee Chat, host Anna Leon, Partner in KPMG in Canada’s Technology Strategy and Transformation practice, talked to business leaders about some of the most challenging aspects of digital transformation, with perspectives on embracing the metaverse in the Canadian business environment. Read on to explore some of the insights they shared and get the full scoop by watching the on-demand session recording.

The rise of the metaverse

The metaverse is considered the next evolution of the Internet where people will gather in virtual worlds to work and play. Investment dollars are streaming into this space, particularly in the areas of gaming, shopping and NFTs (non-fungible tokens). As a result, many business leaders are considering whether they, too, should be part of the metaverse—and if there’s a business case for doing so.

“The topic of metaverse is like meringue pie,” said Leon during the live coffee chat. “It’s sweet, it’s fluffy, but there’s not really a lot of substance in terms of the key foundational elements.” Business leaders shouldn’t dismiss it as another fad, nor should they jump all-in because it’s the newest shiny thing. “Because if it’s not metaverse today, it could be something else tomorrow,” she said. “How are we putting our organizations in the right posture and the right framework to support our people and clients, and to drive sustainable innovation?”

Here are some key takeaways from our DX Coffee Chat on how organizations are shaping their digital future:

  • The next generation is already in the metaverse. So to get ahead of the curve, you’ve got to be in the game: “If you want to engage with potential new employees and train them in that new environment, that is the place to be at this stage,” said Rob Tran, COO at Bondly Finance. To get started in the metaverse, you can crawl, walk or run. A ‘crawl’ might mean getting started with NFTs. A ‘walk’ could mean partnering with another firm that’s already in the metaverse, perhaps to sponsor or produce a one-off event. A ‘run’ could involve building out your own digital environment.
  • The metaverse offers exciting new opportunities to reach new audiences, but the return on investment is still unclear: “What excites me about it is the untapped opportunities,” said Roman Coba, VP of Technology at Federated Co-operatives Ltd. That could mean getting your messaging, products or services to audiences you’ve never been able to reach before. At the same time, “No one knows where it’ll land. No one knows what value it will bring,” he said. “It’s hard to define how much money do you put into it, how much effort do you put into it, for something you really can’t quantify the return on.” As with any aspect of digital transformation, he said it’s important to focus on defining the value that the technology will bring to the organization, not on the technology or ‘shiny’ object itself.
  • Digital transformation means adapting to customer wants and needs, which in turn can help with talent acquisition and retention: “What’s exciting for us at Kruger as a manufacturing company that’s adopting new technologies is to be able to use and monetize the data we capture from our sensors. There’s so much more out there, so much we can learn and use going forward,” said Geneviève Bertrand, Senior Vice-President of Information Technologies at Kruger Inc. For example, Kruger is using 3-D glasses to train its operators in preventative maintenance; adopting modern technologies like this is also a draw for potential new hires. “You have to adapt your company to what people want and expect,” she said. “That is part of the digital transformation.”
  • Don’t wait to adopt innovative technologies such as the metaverse. The time to start is now: There is no ‘magical’ stage of maturity that organizations need to hit in order to adopt innovation and leverage technologies like the metaverse or blockchain. “Do you need to have presence in the metaverse? Yes. But, depending on your organization’s objectives, how you are going to do it is going to be very different. The extent that you want to do it, how you want to represent yourself in that new avenue, is going to be very different,” said Kareem Sadek, Partner, Blockchain and Cryptoassets Services Co-leader at KPMG in Canada. “The time is now to start thinking through it.”

Meet your host

Anna Leon

Anna Leon is a Partner in our Technology Strategy and Digital Transformation national practice. Anna provides digital transformation services which involve developing and executing technical solutions, cloud, agile delivery and managed services to different organizations as well as in the broader public sector, including healthcare and not for profit organizations.

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