How CIOs Can Tackle Digital Transformation with Speed and Agility

BrandPost By Manish Tomar, Chief Information and Digital Officer, KPMG
Apr 21, 2021
IT Leadership

The ongoing pandemic has changed the way we work as digital transformation continues to accelerate at a rapid pace.

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Credit: SalesForce

The ongoing pandemic has changed the way we work as digital transformation continues to accelerate at a rapid pace. Major organizational changes have prompted CIOs and other business leaders to rethink how their teams are configured and how they interact with each other and with customers.

New challenges, changing customer needs, and the increasing role of technology mean leaders are looking for new ways to empower their teams and equip them with the tools to succeed now and in the future.

Manish Tomar, Chief Information and Digital Officer at KPMG, has been on the frontline of digital transformation in his organization. We asked him to share insights gleaned from leading a team through a transition to a digital workplace with speed and agility.

Q: How has COVID-19 transformed your organization?

A: COVID-19 forced us to rethink our entire organizational priorities and our digital transformation journey across our front-, middle- and back-office. When the pandemic first hit in March of 2020, there were a lot of discussions around prioritizing our initiatives in alignment with our changing business objectives and priorities, to accelerate digital transformation. With the majority of our employees and clients now working from home, we knew investing in a digital workplace model was critical to continue providing the service KPMG is known for.

For us, transformation had to be both functional and technical. On the functional side, we had to figure out how to drive collaboration and improve productivity among our employees. We knew we had to deliver a better employee experience for our front-, middle-, and back-office team members to keep them engaged and provide them with the resources to prepare for the new reality.

On the technical end, the architecture had to be transformation ready to support speed and agility as we modernize and transform our technology assets. We needed systems in place that could support the needs of our employees and clients, while still meeting our rigorous cybersecurity standards. And, of course, all of this needed to happen while keeping operational expenses low.

Q: How important are speed and agility for your organization?

A: COVID-19 really tested our ability to act with the speed and agility needed to navigate a task of this scale. While digital transformation was already a priority pre-pandemic, the rapid shift to digital in the wake of COVID-19 meant we needed to assess our strategy to stay ahead of changing business demands.

We worked with our business partners to define what the new reality for IT teams both now and post-pandemic would look like. With each day presenting new challenges and opportunities for our team, agility became one of the most important factors in our planning. We asked ourselves how we could digitally enable our organization to boost employee productivity and how we could cross-skill and upskill our employees to ensure they had the tools needed to not just react but also proactively identify potential obstacles and resolve issues.

But speed and agility aren’t just about people — you also have to examine the support structure in place and determine what infrastructure and supporting process changes are needed to enable your team in the most secure way.

Q: How has your organization used speed and agility to address challenges and respond to evolving employee and client needs?

A: Some of KPMG’s clients traditionally require our workforce to be on-site at the client’s location. When the first wave of the pandemic hit, those clients had questions about when KPMG employees could return to the office so their businesses could keep running, and to do so in a safe manner.

In response, our team remained agile and worked quickly to ensure multiple applications and mobile resources were available to our people. By preparing our partners and professionals with the resources they needed, we immediately switched to a remote workforce and were still able to provide our clients with the same service and capabilities.

Launching a remote workforce like this on such a quick timeline requires both internal and external alignment. Internally, we look at innovation through the lens of our customers. What problem is this solving? How can internal solutions be applied to our customers? How fast can we deliver on value?

Externally, we work with our technology partners to collaborate and gather the resources needed to make these things happen. For example, when we talked with our partners at Salesforce, we asked how they were addressing similar challenges. They shared insights on what they are doing with their own business – they call it “Salesforce on Salesforce” – and integrated those ideas into our own solutions. This kind of collaboration enabled us to move quickly and effectively when overcoming the challenges associated with our own digital transformation, to the benefit of our clients.

Q: How do employees and customers fit into digital transformation?

A: When it comes to our employees, a unified experience is one of KPMG’s most important objectives. We look for digital assets to help us stay connected both internally and with our customers. We also take time to measure digital adoption and collect feedback from our employees to drive continuous improvement.

Implementing a CRM platform like Salesforce helps our employees collaborate. It also gives them access to valuable data that can improve client and market knowledge.

On the customer side, a CRM platform is critical for engaging customers and increasing sales effectiveness. We can better understand our customers and their needs, which allows us to more accurately identify what services they may need and move quickly to provide them. With an integrated platform like Salesforce, we can unify marketing and sales data in a single source of truth to operate at a higher speed to value.

Q: How can CIOs effectively lead their teams through change?

A: Change is difficult, especially during a time like this. CIOs need to be engaged with their business to make sure changes to people, processes, tools, and technologies are directly aligned to their business goals. Change isn’t just about IT. It involves the entire organization. As such, CIOs need to work with other leaders to understand the organization’s culture and how its objectives are evolving.

Then, you can work together to align priorities and create a support structure to address those new needs. With a strong vision and a list of priorities in place, your team will have a clear direction moving forward with measurable goals to work towards.

Q: What is one lesson you’ve learned in the past year?

A: At KPMG, the importance of technology became very evident in the past year. While technology and our IT infrastructure have always been a part of our work processes, COVID-19 brought them to the forefront of our business and our conversations. Even those organizations that had minimal technological infrastructure realized they had to invest in new systems if they were going to make it through the pandemic.

The conversation around technology has transitioned from short-term survival to long-term innovation. Platforms like Salesforce have the opportunity to transform customer and employee experiences and continue driving business impact.

Q: What does the future of digital transformation look like?

A: The future of digital transformation is all about continuous improvement. At KPMG, we are using data-driven insights to support a digital workplace and drive firm growth. Emerging

technologies are making it easier to modernize and simplify our technology assets — a key factor for moving with speed and agility.

Technology also allows us to address transformation in a cost-effective fashion so we can fund new ideas and innovation. The conversations around technology get me excited because we aren’t going to take our foot off of the accelerator. We’ll continue to use technology to meet our business needs while figuring out how it can shape our future strategy and transformation roadmap.


As Chief Information & Digital Officer at KPMG, Manish works to accelerate and enable adoption of digital technology and drive transformation across the KPMG front, middle and back-office to a 21st Century connected enterprise. He works with key KPMG stakeholders and technical leaders to process the firm’s digital strategy by deploying a multi-cloud ecosystem, rationalizing their application portfolio in support of a more SaaS-driven enterprise. He is accelerating KPMG’s ability to scale Intelligent Automation and deploy tools that increase productivity, collaboration, and an improved mobile experience for our partners and professionals.