• Ian West, Partner |
3 min read

The last nine months have been extremely difficult for people and businesses alike. Some have recovered, but for some, the road to recovery is still an uphill task.

Amid the chaos and disruption, the pandemic has also presented an opportunity for businesses to transform themselves digitally. In these times, the adage saying ‘slow and steady wins the race’ has been proved wrong. Increasingly we are seeing that those businesses which responded with extraordinary speed and vigour, have thrived in this new reality.

I recently caught up with telecoms provider TalkTalk, to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the provider. Gary Steen, managing director of technology, change and security for TalkTalk, who echoed the same thought around rapid responses.

Gary discussed how TalkTalk embraced the abrupt shift to remote working quite swiftly. The transition was smooth as they had already embarked upon their digital transformation journey in 2018. “We were way ahead of the curve when the pandemic arrived”. 

Are you digitally prepared?

Organisations got a reality check of their digital preparedness when the pandemic surfaced. Gone are the days when being digitally equipped was a number two or three priority for businesses. Today, it has become the only priority to thrive in this new reality.

In my conversations with clients, there has been a growing preference for the use of digital technologies that help reduce face-to-face interactions and safeguard customer and employee health and well-being. This is because digital is a faster way to execute. However, the rising customer preference for digital channels has also exposed several shortcomings.

During the pandemic, there have been many instances where our clients, who thought they were in a good position to offer digital services, found that their services were not up to the mark.

For instance, some of the customers were not happy with the user interface of the website. For some, it was a tedious task to look for the product on the website. Clients were not quick enough to set up virtual call centres to resolve customer queries. Thus, the customer experience was not even satisfactory.

My advice to businesses who are dealing with customers directly is to try their customer experience once. Go onto your website and set up a new customer account, try buying and try returning something. It will reveal more than you might think.

In order to fix these loopholes, and drive growth in the new reality, businesses need to leverage digital technology that will enable seamless facilitation of services, both online and offline.

This is where I believe, KPMG presents a real solution. We understand what role technology is going to play. We don’t just provide a vision for the future; we provide real solutions with technology to deliver tangible and measurable business results.

Effective digital transformation

Our Ignition Centre is the new way of working which is enabled by a physical “problem-solving” centre. An environment to collaborate and drive tech-enabled change in person, remotely or a mix of both – it’s a realisation of that new hybrid environment. Clients can add value and extract just as much from the conversation, thanks to the technologies we have put into the space to enable powerful collaboration.

For telecom providers like TalkTalk, the pandemic provided just the right opportunity to prove their worth as the fourth utility. I think they did a terrific job by rebalancing their networks and making the transition to remote working smoother. When it comes to managing their own digital transformation most effectively, leaders must make bold decisions.

They must not only put the new processes and systems in place but also discontinue the old ones. For instance, if you have a new digital order processing system, then don’t waste time and effort by running them both in parallel. We need to be decisive about what we are going to stop doing, the things that are no longer valid because of digital transformation.

Our recent KPMG UK Tech Monitor report, discusses growth projections among tech firms are stronger than those seen across the rest of the UK economy, helped by an expectation that demand for digital products and services will prove resilient to a wider global economic slowdown.

Moreover, survey respondents noted that changes in business operations among clients through the lockdown period had boosted demand and spurred investment in new products.

Moving ahead, businesses should prioritise the well-being and productivity of the workforce.  Alongside this, organisations should leverage digital transformation and reskill and upskill their workforce. They should ensure that their workforce is digitally equipped to thrive in this new reality. 

'For more information on how the technology sector is responding to the pandemic download the KPMG Tech Monitor report'