• Lisa Heneghan, Leadership |

KPMG professionals have been at the forefront of emerging technologies for many years, including exploring how to accelerate value from Artificial Intelligence (AI). Building on our US$2 billion investment in AI and expanded relationship with Microsoft, KPMG was among the first of a small group of organizations globally to get early access to Microsoft 365 Copilot.

This new tool combines the power of large language models with an organization’s data to create an AI-powered digital assistant. I’m proud that we had one of the largest cohorts testing this technology in its initial adoption phase, putting it at the fingertips of some 300 KPMG professionals in Audit, Tax & Legal, Advisory and internal functions across the global organization.

And while it’s still early days, the results look promising: 60 percent of KPMG users said the tool allows them to spend more time on valuable work, and 58 percent reported enhanced creativity. More than half of KPMG professionals with early access confirmed an uplift in their productivity.

As Copilot is now available to a wider enterprise audience, I wanted to share with you some of the lessons we learned and how KPMG member firms are helping clients to adopt this new technology.

1. Successful adoption is multi-faceted 

Implementing Microsoft 365 Copilot is about more than simply making it available to your people — a comprehensive change and adoption strategy is key to getting the most out of the technology. Prompting is a new skill for people and not the same as searchig something on the internet. Immersive prompt engineering training is important, so AI models draw on the right data sources and deliver the desired response. We found that testing the technology with a ring-fenced pilot group up front enabled KPMG professionals to understand more about the skills gap we had to address, but also identify the features of the tool that add the highest value to our colleagues. It is important to recognize that this isn’t just about using technology, it is also about the policies you put in place to encourage ways of working. This includes driving a common approach for running meetings and the terminology used to describe actions and decisions.

2. Data underpins the experience

Using Microsoft 365 Copilot has highlighted the importance of a clear and curated information architecture. As with any AI tool, outcomes can only be as good as the data you provide. In addition, data security is a critical enabler for broad adoption. Setting the appropriate permissions and putting strong cyber practices in place is imperative to ensuring AI is being used in a way that is responsible, trustworthy and safe. Having a curated set of data, accessible in the cloud, can have a massive impact on the quality of output you receive from your AI tools. If your businesses data sits somewhere that is not visible to the tool, it quite often will not give the answer users expect.

3. Digital workplace maturity matters

AI tools perform as part of a broader digital workplace ecosystem. To get the most out of the product, you first need the right level of adoption — in this case Microsoft 365 — across the other solutions Microsoft 365 Copilot plugs in to. There is a danger that you can dilute the positive impact from AI when combining implementation with other toolsets that are not as broadly adopted.

4. Invest to test

In the rapidly evolving AI space, organizations need to be agile. This includes the way they approach their investments. Technology comes at a cost, and at this early adoption stage many organizations will not know their business case and expected ROI. I think the case can be made for the need to invest to test first. Only when you get this tool into the hands of a broad group of professionals will you be able to validate the likely business case. With these further findings you can then think about an implementation roadmap to help maximize your spending by enabling those users and groups with the highest expected productivity uplift first.

In our recent KPMG 2023 CEO Outlook, we found that leaders are looking to better understand the potential of generative AI and how to implement it in their business strategies. The challenge is spending the money in the right places and having the right skills to fully exploit the opportunities it presents.

From readiness assessments to deployment and adoption, KPMG professionals can guide your organization through the various steps of the process — from running a small pilot to global enterprise-wide implementation. Learn more at kpmg.com/microsoftcopilot.