Digital assistants, biometrics and virtual reality identified as key technologies for transformation, finds KPMG annual survey

Digital assistants, biometrics and virtual reality iden

Increased business efficiency and market share are top benefits in adopting the new disruptive technologies


Hong Kong, 31 August 2020 – A majority (77%) of global technology executives are optimistic that innovative technologies such as digital assistants, biometrics and virtual reality will help improve their business models and achieve their goals, according to KPMG’s annual survey. 

In its eighth year, the 2020 KPMG Technology Industry Innovation Survey includes responses from more than 800 global leaders in the technology industry from 12 countries, with 110 respondents from China. As the COVID-19 pandemic creates a new reality for companies, KPMG’s latest analysis based on the survey discusses the use cases, investment levels and time horizons, and benefits and challenges in adopting disruptive technologies that have the potential to transform the enterprise. 

Digital assistants, the most advanced of which combine artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and machine learning, are poised to play an integral role, according to the report. Technology company leaders ranked them on par with Internet of Things, blockchain, and robotics, and higher than 5G and edge computing in terms of technologies they expect to be using to transform their business three years from now. Increased market share is identified as the top benefit in adopting digital assistants, cited by 26% of those surveyed. Half of those surveyed expect it will take less than 3 years from initial investment for digital assistants to see significant investment returns.

Philip Ng, Partner, Head of Technology, KPMG China, said: “In the new reality being created by COVID-19, companies may use digital assistants to deliver a quickly scalable, differentiated customer experience, reduce human error and increase efficiencies, as well as allow employees to focus on more strategic and innovative work by freeing them from mundane tasks.”

Technology company leaders also ranked biometrics, which are defined as a person’s unique, measurable physical characteristics like fingerprints, facial structure, and retinal map that can be used for automated identification, access control, and facility/system security, on par with 5G, robotics, and blockchain, and higher than virtual reality and edge computing in terms of technologies they expect to be using to transform their business three years from now. Improved business efficiencies is the top benefit in adopting biometrics, cited by 23% of respondents. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed have increased their investment in biometrics by 20% or more compared to last year, while the biggest challenge in adopting this technology as cited by 23% of those surveyed is ‘the time/cost to reskill/upskill the workforce’.

As a result of the pandemic, attention is turning once again to virtual reality in the quest to make interactions more personal and immersive. The top benefit in adopting virtual reality cited by 32% of respondents is improved business efficiencies. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed have increased their investment in virtual reality compared to the previous year and are expecting a relatively quick return on investment within 3 years of initial investment. However, global technology company leaders surveyed indicate that the biggest challenge in adopting virtual reality is ‘lack of employee/cultural support’, with 29% citing this as the leading challenge. 

Anson Bailey, Partner, Head of Technology, Media & Telecoms, Hong Kong, KPMG China, said: “We are going to see businesses adopt new virtual reality tools to improve the future remote work environment by creating the next generation of virtual offices to increase employee engagement and productivity. In addition, we are going to see an increasing focus on customer engagement especially across high-end retail purchases with more in-store immersive experiences. It offers businesses potential time, cost, and scale savings in travel, training, events and meetings.”



About KPMG China

KPMG member firms and its affiliates operating in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau are collectively referred to as “KPMG China”. KPMG China is based in 26 offices across 24 cities with around 12,000 partners and staff in Beijing, Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Foshan, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Haikou, Hangzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Ningbo, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Suzhou, Tianjin, Wuhan, Xiamen, Xi’an, Zhengzhou, Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR.  Working collaboratively across all these offices, KPMG China can deploy experienced professionals efficiently, wherever our client is located.

KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 147 countries and territories and have more than 219,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. In 1992, KPMG became the first international accounting network to be granted a joint venture license in mainland China. KPMG was also the first among the Big Four in mainland China to convert from a joint venture to a special general partnership, as of 1 August 2012. Additionally, the Hong Kong firm can trace its origins to 1945. This early commitment to this market, together with an unwavering focus on quality, has been the foundation for accumulated industry experience, and is reflected in KPMG’s appointment for multidisciplinary services (including audit, tax and advisory) by some of China’s most prestigious companies.

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