Digital transformation is not a new concept: since the advent of the internet, companies have diligently adopted new digital tools – from blockchain to edge computing — to transform the way they collaborate and do business.
What has changed is the sheer volume of technology options that are now flooding the market. The proliferation of technology choices can be daunting for business owners and this is where KPMG New Zealand (NZ) intends to offer a helping hand. Renowned for its auditing, tax and advisory services, the firm is now helping companies navigate the swathes of digital tools in the market so they can achieve their strategic goals.
“Digital transformation isn’t a static point in time, it’s a repeating life cycle of continuous improvement and service delivery to customers,” reflects Chief Information Officer Cowan Pettigrew.
“It’s important to understand that isolated digital tools don’t lead to the transformational results that business owners seek,” he continues. “Businesses need to identify what problem they’re trying to solve before they search for technologies. Digital tools are only a plank or toolset that supports the wider goals of an organisation.”
A digitally-driven firm, KPMG NZ has embarked on its own root-and-branch transformation, which is helping to bring its strategic vision to life. Yet, before any company, including KPMG NZ, can embark on such a mammoth change, Pettigrew believes IT leaders need to look inwardly first.
“I feel the realisation that Chief Information Officers (CIOs) need to transform themselves has been the biggest strength I have brought to KPMG NZ,” comments Pettigrew. “Being a CIO is no longer a position for purely technical people who drive value through infrastructure alone. Whilst a technical understanding is important, the new multi-hat CIOs are those who have evolved beyond the technical and provide passionate leadership with business-led, customer-facing strategies that enable the business to realise its vision and goals.”
The ‘FANG’ effect
Coming into the firm in December 2016, Pettigrew notes that one of his biggest challenges as CIO was to transform the company’s disconnected systems. In doing so, KPMG NZ is evolving to fulfil its growing need for mobility, collaboration, integration and, perhaps most importantly, to meet its growing and ever-evolving user experience (UX) expectations. Indeed, Pettigrew underlines how the so-called ‘FANG effect’ is elevating consumers’ expectations. This has encouraged KPMG NZ to raise the bar to meet their demands.
“The FANG effect has lifted the UX expectation across the board,” he observes. “If the applications don’t collaborate like Facebook, enable procurement like Amazon, look as cool as Apple, allow users to consume media like Netflix and search like Google, you’re missing an engagement opportunity with your clients and staff alike. These giants have set the bar for user experience and it’s driving customer expectations. Smart businesses who respond to this will be a step ahead of the competition.”
Supporting focused strategies
Pettigrew is keen to deliver technologies that add value. Yet before he talks about digital tools he believes it’s imperative that companies truly grasp their business strategy, otherwise they may get side-tracked or distracted by new digital trends.
“’Digital’ by itself is not a strategy, it's a tool,” he asserts. “It’s critical to understand that isolated digital strategies generally don't lead to the transformational result that business owners are after. You've got to reverse the equation and ask ‘what are the business goals? what is the problem you're trying to solve? and what's the role of digital in that?’
“Ongoing digital transformation isn’t always easy. It requires a clear vision and commitment. In my opinion, I think the ultimate outcome of any digital strategy is that it delivers back time; time that can be delivered to the end user and which can add value elsewhere. At KPMG NZ, our strategy started with strengthening and stabilising our foundations before moving to unlock and transform based on people, process and technology. This has helped to deliver a platform based on data-centricity, that is relevant to our people and business needs, and which is setting us up for a tech-savvy future.
“KPMG NZ is on a journey towards becoming a sector-led, client-focused technology and data insights company for our clients,” he adds. “Information technology systems (ITS) is one of the primary drivers of value and efficiencies at the firm.”
Having undertaken its own transformation and been in its clients’ shoes, KPMG NZ understands first-hand the steps businesses need to take to deliver exceptional change. Additionally, as the only one of the ‘big four’ auditors that is 100% New-Zealand owned, KPMG NZ has an unparalleled understanding of the unique geographic region in which it operates.
“At KPMG NZ everything we do ties back to our purpose of fuelling New Zealand’s prosperity,” Pettigrew says. “It’s our benchmark for the work we do, the clients we work with and the community projects we get involved in. We also have access to KPMG’s global network, drawing on our member firms in 155 countries worldwide. This gives us the freedom to develop IT services that suit our own environment, as well as working on bigger picture pieces that are for the entire network.”
With its feet firmly in both New Zealand and global markets, KPMG NZ has a wealth of expertise to draw upon. The firm provides services to a wide range of industry sectors including agribusiness, insurance, healthcare and more. In doing so, Pettigrew says the firm has become a ‘beacon of insight’ into the New Zealand business landscape. On top of this, Pettigrew highlights how the firm keeps an ear to the ground to truly understand its clients' challenges.
“Any transformation we undertake has the client at its heart,” says Pettigrew. “We have worked to improve the way we do business so we can provide our clients with sharper, smarter services and insights that help them succeed. We’re constantly listening to our clients to understand what they need and expect from us, undertaking client surveys and market research to understand our current position versus where we want to be. Ultimately, we want to exceed our client’s expectations – so it truly is the client that’s driving us to ensure we have the best tools, the best technology, and the best people to bring these to life.”
KPMG NZ has zeroed in on some of the most disruptive technologies in the sector to achieve this, particularly looking at tools like: artificially intelligent computing and robotic process automation as a service, blockchain, intelligent customer relationship agents, insight platforms, data management applications, security automation and more.
Amalgamated with new value-driven operating models like technology for business management (TBM) to keep pace with disruption, the company has collaborated closely with pioneers in the technology sector.
“Having these key partners alongside us and deeply embedded within the business provides me with both the advice, thought leadership and sound boarding I need on a daily basis,” reflects Pettigrew. “Leveraging the best from Lenovo for mobility, and combined with the power of platforms like Imanage Work 10 with the Raven AI engine and the Microsoft Office 365 suite, KPMG NZ is well placed in our strategy to stay ahead of the curve.
“Meanwhile, Lexel systems provide critical support for our IT operations including our all-important network, unified communications and sysops management. They are deeply embedded within the business providing thought leadership on ways to improve the business in line with our ITS strategies.”
Looking forward, Pettigrew is optimistic about the future for KPMG. Driven by technological innovation, Pettigrew believes KPMG NZ has cemented itself as a top choice for any business seeking advisory or sector-led help. “In the next five to ten years, I see KPMG NZ as a clear choice for businesses, establishing itself as a beacon of information that businesses can count on.”