Martin Guldbrandsen is a Manager in KPMG’s Customer & Growth team. Martin has been employed at KPMG for one and a half year, is certified in both Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce and works primarily on advising clients on their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy, process optimisation with a focus on IT and implementation. 


What are some of the challenges that clients face when they implement a new CRM system / undertake digital transformation?

Martin: The way I see it, there are three key challenges. In essence, the biggest barrier to digital transformation is human.

The first challenge is a resistance to change: digital transformation doesn’t always fit everyone’s agenda in the organisation, and here a good change management strategy is key – something we can also help with at KPMG, and definitely something that I practice with my clients as well.

Which leads me to the second challenge: the lack of involvement from the management team when implementing a CRM system. It’s important for the leadership to be onboard with any changes on this scale, to participate in meetings, to take ownership of the process and to communicate the changes to the rest of the organisation so that everyone is onboard.

The third challenge is the presence of what we call legacy systems: old systems and IT infrastructure. This makes the digital transformation quite difficult to implement/ put in place, since the interaction between the new CRM system and the other systems present in the organisation could be challenging.

"If an organisation manages their sales or customer service in Excel, that’s a good sign that improvements can be made through a CRM system"

Martin Guldbrandsen
Martin Guldbrandsen

What triggers the need for a CRM system?

Martin: CRM systems are all about better customer relationships. So, when I hear someone saying, “we want to be better at interacting with our customers”, that’s when the bell rings. Typically, if an organisation manages their sales, customer service or touchpoint mapping in Excel, that’s a good sign that improvements can be made through a CRM system. Why? Because the CRM system will help you schedule communication with your customers and also keep track of conversations you may have had, so basically improving your sales, customer service, marketing and field service systems.

But sometimes, it’s regulation that pushes the need for change and innovation. That can be tough for companies who don’t have the maturity level needed to undergo these changes on their own: for example, not feeling ready to undertake a digital transformation project, not having the skills to do so or not having invested in the tools early enough. In those cases, I really think that KPMG makes a difference for clients, because we don’t just implement the technology, we also educate and guide them on the strategy that will get them ahead.

How well do CRM systems integrate with new technologies?

Martin: Very easily, actually. All the CRM systems we work with have integrated chatbots, but we can also integrate Generative AI tools in both Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce. The bots can help you analyse data or suggest a draft to the next e-mail you send to your customers. I know that Microsoft and Salesforce constantly update their tools anyway, so CRM systems often have the latest and greatest - it’s all a question of how much the client wants to integrate them in their customised product.

And speaking of integration, the CRM systems can also communicate with other IT systems, such as Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERPs) if you’d like to get billing information, even if those systems come from different vendors. Ideally you would do this to have one unified view flow.

What difference does KPMG make for clients when it comes to CRM systems?

Martin: We empower our clients by letting them take ownership of their digital transformation: they are the process owners, they facilitate the trainings for super users, they make all the decisions, but we of course guide them in their decisions if needed. The best feeling I have when working with clients is when they feel that the CRM system we built together is theirs, not ours. And once we have gone live with the new product, they are more likely to actually use it and integrate it in the culture. I see this over and over again with the clients I work with – the more involved they are, the better the outcome.

And it’s also great for us to feel like we’re a part of their team and create a system that easily enables our clients to provide their customers with what they need.

What is something you'd like to challenge our perspective on?

Martin: I wish more people knew about CRM systems and that we do process optimisation through IT at KPMG. We work both on analysing the needs for a CRM system for clients, as well as implementing it. At first, we spend time understanding our clients’ processes and their requirements and once we have a plan, we go back to the basement – as we call it – and figure out how such a system can look like, based on the shelf product we can offer, and customise the CRM system to cater to the specific needs of the organisation. Sometimes, the client will already have a preference for one system, but often we will recommend a system over the other based on their existing processes and structural fit. It’s important to create a product that fits the organisation's processes and makes the client create value for their customers.

What does your future at KPMG look like?

Martin: Hopefully bright with a lot of exciting, new projects where I can help and empower clients and create some valuable insights and challenge their perspective. I really like to be a part of KPMG and I think there are many opportunities. I love the fact that we are not only implementing IT, but we are also management consultants: I used to only implement CRM systems in my previous positions, but now I also get to analyse, understand, strategize and that’s thrilling. That’s one of the reasons I decided to pursue my career at KPMG. I’m also surrounded by some crazy good and skilled people here and I get challenged every day – and that’s really what I need, to learn new things along the way.

"I love the fact that we are not only implementing IT, but we are also management consultants"