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"Disruption, ESG and emerging technology are the prominent drivers of transformation in 2023."

Ian West, Head of Alliances and Technology, Media and Telecommunications, KPMG in the UK, talks to us about helping clients make sense of emerging technologies and finding a faster path to tech-enabled transformation.

We met Ian at the UK firm’s Canary Wharf offices in London. In this interview, he talks about understanding emerging technologies and how they can underpin the success of your digital transformation.

Ian, businesses have always been going through some form of transformation, but what does tech-enabled transformation look like for today’s business leaders?

Ian West: It can differ by client and by sector, but the idea of transformation has really shifted from a series of projects and sprints to one of continuous change. It’s not a destination, but a journey. Time and again organizations that embrace transformation with an agile mindset out-compete. Alongside a mindset shift, there has been exponential growth in access to technologies that can accelerate transformation.

"When you put technology in the hands of the right people, great things happen."

Simren (Gill) Bains
Simren (Gill) Bains

What is driving organizational transformation in 2023?

Ian West: It’s hard to think of a more complex time in history. We are experiencing political disruption, new regulations, energy challenges across the globe, and challenges to supply chain resilience. All of these issues have the knock-on effect to consumers who are living through a cost-of-living crisis. These issues are all driving transformation projects across many organizations.

Clients also recognize an increasing need to transform their business to be more sustainable while managing the impact of climate change on their businesses. ESG-led organizations are better able to recruit the best talent and access better capital, both of which can be dramatically improved when you have a measurable ESG strategy in place.

Finally, of course, there is the impact of new technologies entering the market. If a new piece of technology can help drive productivity or efficiency, then those that don’t adapt and adopt can get left behind.

Why do transformations sometimes go wrong?

Ian West: I have worked for KPMG in the UK for 21 years, 10 of them as partner, and in that time, I’ve spoken to many leaders who have transformation horror stories. Organizations can fail to understand the connections across their business because they’re not asked the right questions up front, or even at all. Questions like, ‘How will the implementation of a new finance technology impact our HR or marketing function?’ and ‘What unintentional consequences may occur as a result of ‘switching off’ legacy technology?’

Furthermore, good news tends to travel swiftly, but bad news less so. Such is the issue with transformational program problems failing to reach leadership in good time, to put in place the right level of remedial action.

Other times organizations bring on a great new piece of technology that offers so much upside, but the end users aren’t engaged or trained to make the most of it, so it never reaches its full potential. Quite often too, organizations may have under appreciated the complexity and time it can take to deliver a tech-enabled transformation, so the time and costs can spiral.

Why would an organization choose to work with KPMG on tech-enabled transformation?

Ian West: There are four very good reasons why clients choose to work with us on tech-enabled transformation.

Firstly, there is the element of trusted expertise. There are thousands of technology experts across the KPMG global network of firms who can help clients make sense of how technology can drive commercial improvements. Companies know that they need to do something different, but how? They read about emerging tech, the metaverse, web 3.0, quantum computing, edge computing, 5G and the Internet of Things, and so on. They come to us to make sense of this cacophony of noise.

Then there’s the power of KPMG’s multi-disciplinary approach. We’re able to bring together sector experts, technologists, risk and delivery experts and when needed, technology partners. This means that clients can rest assured that the transformation has a team of experts bringing unique insight to the program.

Thirdly, over a number of years, KPMG firms have developed an eco-system of Alliances with many of the world’s leading tech companies. The benefit for clients is that we objectively identify the technology solution for their organization’s specific needs.

Finally, I would say that the defined operating models and implementation processes we’ve developed through solutions such as KPMG’s Connected, Powered and Trusted suite are tried and tested.

"When we work with clients on a transformation, they trust that we can help to mitigate risk and accelerate the delivery."