During the early stages of the pandemic, almost every business faced significant and unprecedented shocks. In many sectors, demand fell off a cliff, supply chain resilience became a major issue and employee and customer safety was a top priority. Most companies responded by accelerating the deployment of digital — using new platforms to connect with their customers, suppliers and their employees. In some cases, many years’ worth of digital transformation work was done in a matter of months.

The business world has embraced digital. And one year on, many business leaders see a clear shift in their priorities for digital transformation as they emerge from the pandemic, and KPMG’s recent global digital transformation survey* reflects this insight.

As business leaders begin the journey from survival to growth, their confidence in customer spending is up and they see increasing revenues as a top priority. Certain sectors are booming, and many hard-hit industries anticipate a rebound. What’s more, asset prices are at high levels. And the survey shows organizations are relying on digital to help enable revenue growth.

To support this drive toward growth, three themes emerged from KPMG’s research: the need for digital to engage the customer, an increased emphasis on trust and security and using digital to reimagine the future of work.

1. Focusing on connecting to customers

As today’s leaders look to grow their businesses, they do so with the knowledge that an operating model should be centered around connecting to customers.

In the past, businesses would often look to transform individual front-office functions like marketing, sales or customer service. But now there’s a high demand for reimagining the entire front office, and it’s focused on connected customer engagement. In fact, 79 percent of respondents say a customer-centric strategy will be a top or high priority over the next six to 12 months.* The survey also found that more than half of the organizations accelerated the digitization of their operations and created next-generation operating models, and 62 percent advanced the creation of a seamless digital customer experience*.

As data-driven analysis creates new possibilities for personalization, customization and interaction, customer expectations grow. These connected customers are demanding seamlessly integrated experiences which requires a new front-office operational model.

2. Building trust with secure growth

While organizations are focused on the customer, they should make sure their new capabilities will be delivered securely and keep trust front of mind. The levels of risk they are exposed to naturally increase. In fact, 66 percent of organizations plan to increase their investments in data security over the next 12 months.*

Trust is becoming a defining theme for 2021, and effective cyber security implementation can play a vital and fundamental role in further building that trust in a digital world. Successful organizations look to foster client and customer trust in their cyber resilience, in their protection of sensitive data and in the transparency of their approach.

3. Reimaging the future of work

It’s anticipated that the global workplace will change dramatically in the months to come. The shift to remote working isn’t showing signs of going back to “normal,” with 59 percent of respondents planning to prioritize the shift to a remote workforce in the next six to 12 months.* In a long-term hybrid work environment, businesses are going to reassess their office space needs and the impact those decisions will have on costs and revenue.

It feels inevitable that people’s jobs are going to change. As businesses focus on revenue and launching new channels, employees who work with customers should understand how their roles may evolve and what upskilling is required. Past research has also shown CEOs believe that many will need to be reskilled. I’ve seen big successes with organizations that have put resources into reskilling their workforces on learning platforms.

To be successful and to support their people more effectively, organizations should focus on the capabilities of their people to deliver value to customers and aligning employee resources with outcomes in attracting, retaining and driving customer growth.

By focusing your digital investments on customers, security and workforce, your better-connected enterprise can help drive competitive advantage. KPMG Connected Enterprise is a leading approach to address this new way forward: using the framework and our diagnostic tools across the entire enterprise provides a strong foundation for digitally enabled business capabilities and actionable plans. Organizations that accelerate their digital transformation will likely come up as winners.

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

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