Among clients, demand for our digital services is growing. In Advisory, revenue from our technology practice over the past two years has increased by nearly 20%. Across sectors, clients are also digitalising their processes and workflows – in everything from finance, tax and risk to supply chain management and data protection. In 2021, we put our Sofy product through a major technology upgrade. We also offer advanced products to clients – like AI In Control, part of KPMG Trusted Analytics, which helps clients verify the proper use of AI and algorithms.
At the same time, we are also looking to further develop products through our network of partnerships and alliances. Our key partners include Microsoft, ServiceNow, SalesForce and IBM. Working closely with partners gives us access to additional expertise and resources in areas such as cloud technology, cyber security and data analytics.
Alongside these partnerships, we are also working together with other KPMG member firms – adopting new audit solutions, for example, from KPMG’s Digital Assurance & Innovation division (DANI) and implementing global projects like KCw. This allows us to reduce local spending on digital & innovation – in 2020/2021, our local investments totalled just over EUR 15 million, compared to EUR 17.7 million last year (excluding impaired assets).
Over the past three years, we have invested EUR 81.4 million in innovation – ‘fast innovation’ is one of our three cultural attributes. We have innovation champions to support our Assurance, Advisory and Business Services divisions. In Assurance, much of our effort is focused on our North Star objective (more on that below). In Advisory, we’re concentrating on client journeys and using data analytics. Increasingly, we are able to leverage the investments done by the KPMG international network, which is reflected in our local investments strategy.
During the year, we improved our innovation management process – InnoWay – to make it leaner and more effective. Employees can share ideas now through a single platform – so we don’t duplicate efforts. The platform also helps break down silos within the firm, and charts innovation from ideas to practice. We also build ‘trust’ in from the very start – an approach we call ‘Trust By Design’. As ideas develop, we work on controls and security that might be needed – that way, we avoid having to ‘retrofit’ controls, post-development, which can be costly.
In Assurance, we have brought our front and back offices together. Ultimately, our aim is to be able to conduct a fully digital audit by 2023 – our North Star objective.
In Advisory, we have worked with clients on ‘end-to-end’ transformation projects, helping them digitalise their own processes and systems – which ties to our Connected, Powered, Trusted and Regulatory Driven Transformation services.
At the same time, we realise that increased use of digital brings new risks – consequently, we have invested more in our cyber defences to prevent security breaches and protect our own and our clients’ data.
In 2020/2021, we set up an Innovation and a Technology Board with representatives from across the firm to help us identify business opportunities and possible new digital solutions.
And we refocused our Digital Investment Office on product and portfolio management.
These steps are supported by extensive training and skills development – vital, given the current skills shortages in areas like data management and analytics. This includes our Digital MBA programme and a fully-developed digital curriculum for all our professionals. In recent months, we have also increased internal communications to raise awareness of our digital strategy. Digital cuts two ways – it is a big part of the cultural change we require, but it can also support that change by bringing in new, more efficient working practices. During the year, we organised a four-day Innovation Week for all assurance seniors and trainees. And, in May, we held or Connect, Collab & Inspire festival for employees; the festival included keynote speeches, Tedtalks, demos and guest presentations from experts inside and outside KPMG.