• Julio Hernandez, Leadership |

How people connect has changed — and will continue to change.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations rapidly invested in connecting with employees and customers to enable them to work remotely and meet customers in safer ways. Speed was the priority in establishing these connections.

Now businesses and governments are looking to digitally transform their enterprises to continue to maintain stronger connections with their stakeholders, which include employees, customers, and partners across the front, middle and back office. It’s clear these enterprises will need to harness technology to achieve these ends. KPMG’s recent global digital transformation study validates this.

In April 2021, KPMG commissioned Forrester Consulting to take the pulse of global companies’ digital transformation plans a year from the start of the pandemic.* The study features 820 C-suite and senior executives (primarily in operations, IT, finance, and sales and marketing), that are very or highly involved with defining, enabling, and implementing the digital transformation strategy and spending.

Building connections in a new world

As organizations move out of crisis mode, they’re reimagining how they will do business. They’re planning to increase their investments in digital, with 46 percent of survey respondents saying their digital transformation budget is expected to increase over the next 12 months.* They’re looking to reset, reload and retool their organization for growth — and I’m seeing them put a strong emphasis on building connections.

  • Reset: Reimagining the future as organizations have rapidly shifted business operations and accelerated new ways of working.
  • Reload: Focusing investments on driving growth outcomes.
  • Retool: Building new business capabilities around data security, enhancing operations and enabling new customer experiences.

Organizations are increasingly targeting technology that enables better connectivity with customers, employees and stakeholders: more than half of respondents plan to invest in technology that enables better connectivity. This includes data security (66 percent), automation (65 percent) and customer-centric technologies (59 percent). These technologies can work to break down the barriers across the front, middle and back offices.*

Strengthening customer connections and making them thrive

It’s essential to start with the customer, meeting them where they’re at – and to realize the ways customers engaged with businesses before the pandemic won’t necessarily be the same ways moving forward. Today’s empowered customers are looking for and embracing a myriad of channels, which has resulted in a growing and diverse set of business customer interaction points. Technology powers these interaction points.

There’s a real opportunity to reinvent your customer engagement approach. And many executives realize this: the development of new channels and ways to serve customers is high on executives’ agendas. What’s more, they said that the primary focus of their organizations’ digital transformation strategies are front-office processes like customer service (45 percent) and marketing/communication (40 percent, up from 24 percent in 2020).*

As companies seek to guide their organizations beyond recovery, it’s important to connect – to truly walk the talk by linking front, middle and back offices, and responding swiftly to market signals. In such a connected, customer-centric environment, the customer guides the business case, not the other way around.

Fortifying connections within the workforce

The pandemic made it increasingly important to build strong connections with your workforce and, to do this, they invested in digital technologies. As the recovery nears, half of the respondents (51 percent) say their organizations still plan to boost investment in digital communications tools like videoconferencing and messaging platforms over the next 12 months.*

This shift to remote working has also had a huge impact on business operations with the development of new workforce models that will carry businesses beyond the pandemic. In fact, 71 percent of respondents believe they’ve accelerated the progress in creating a new workforce model, with human workers augmented by automation and artificial intelligence.*

As talent continues to be scarce, businesses should leverage technology to make the best use of its human capital to strive to be successful.

As the recovery continues, organizations should dream big. While change was necessary for survival during COVID-19, it’s time for a sustained commitment to digital transformation, with customer-centricity and connectivity at the heart of organizational efforts.

We can help you harness technology to build a connected enterprise. KPMG Connected Enterprise is the digital transformation approach that focuses the critical processes, functions and relationships of a business on helping to meet customer expectations, create business value and drive sustainable growth in a digital world.

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* Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of KPMG, April 2021.

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