Six trends that are shaping the future of corporate services
  • Steve Nathan, Director |
4 min read

The pandemic has highlighted the need to drive organisational transformation at pace.

So, where to start when planning to tackle these challenges? To deliver value, corporate services need to look at how they respond to six major trends. 

1. Corporate Services: a new role working together

KPMG research shows that organisations that investment in capabilities that integrate people, technology, supply chain and partner ecosystems into customer facing products and experiences are 2.1x times as likely to deliver customer experiences that exceeds expectations, successfully execute on customer-centric objectives, and deliver return on investment. (Forrester KPMG COVID-19 Digital Transformation Study)

Each of the following trends impacts on every part of corporate services. To successfully address these trends requires corporate services to act together as a single cohesive team, taking a dynamic and adaptable leadership role on behalf of the whole organisation. 

2. Digitising customer and employee expectations

Customer expectations are evolving rapidly, with growing pressure for everything-now, everything-digital services. Customers are used to next day or even same day deliveries. According to the KPMG UK CEO Outlook 2020 Pulse Survey, 80 percent of UK CEOs say the pandemic has accelerated the creation of a seamless digital customer experience (KPMG UK CEO Outlook 2020, COVID-19 pulse survey (Based on responses from 50 CEOs). At the same time, organisations that invest in employee experience aligned to their external customer experience are doing better at attracting and retaining employees.

During 2020, the public and customers, including those who had fought against the digital tide, have become comfortable with online tools. Things won’t go back to how they were. Customers and employees increasingly expect a seamless experience across digital and physical channels. And these expectations aren’t just of the companies they buy from – they also expect it from their employers.

3. Increasing Automation

Technology is fundamental to both customer experience and delivering effective operations. It drives efficiency, improves services, empowers customers and enables data-driven decision-making.

Our KPMG UK survey found that 78 percent of UK CEOs think that the pandemic has paved the way for digitisation of operations and the creation of a next-generation operating model (KPMG UK CEO Outlook 2020, COVID-19 pulse survey (Based on responses from 50 CEOs). While there are huge benefits from data, technology and automation, there are also challenges and risks.

Greater automation has implications that need active management now for future skills (including the capabilities to build and manage automation), the shape and size of workforces and delivering on customer expectations of service and organizational values. 

4. Upskilling and reskilling are the new normal

Organisations are now rethinking their responses to long term skill shortages in the UK and globally.

Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of global HR professionals believe 21 percent or more of their workforce will need to be upskilled or reskilled (KPMG HR New Reality Pulse Survey 2020 (Public sector and government figures based on 42 responses). In a post-COVID world, we believe many roles will disappear, and new ones will take their place, demanding different skill sets. It’s going to be vital to build a workforce that can work digitally and remotely, that can adapt quickly to ever changing demands and that continually grows in productivity. The leadership demands of global challenges such as economic recovery and zero carbon require new responses from individuals and organisations. These trends demand a renewed focus on workforce planning, upskilling, learning and culture.

5. Growing focus on environment and shared values in the supply chain

The disruption caused by the pandemic has compounded the challenge of EU exit and pushed supply chain risks up the agenda. When surveyed at the beginning of 2020, UK CEOs didn’t rank supply chain risk in the top ten. They now consider it the biggest threat to growth over the next three years. Almost 92 percent of UK CEOs say the disruption due to COVID-19 has made them rethink their global supply chain (KPMG UK CEO Outlook 2020, COVID-19 pulse survey (Based on responses from 50 CEOs).

Apart from supply chain resilience, customers are now demanding greater transparency around value, supplier relationships and ethics in the supply chain. This requires new approaches to the role of suppliers in the enterprise, reengineering supply chains and building new strategic relationships that drive both ethos and long-term value. 

6. Employee wellbeing takes the centre stage

Organisations that prioritise personal safety and wellbeing for their employees are the most likely to prosper over the long term (COVID-19 Consumer pulse survey - Report 2 - Based on KPMG International’s survey of more than 60,000 consumers from different sectors). For many organisations, the pandemic increased focus on the safety and wellbeing of employees and customers.

The challenge now is to link together wellbeing, health, safety, diversity and inclusion to build a newly coherent and compassionate approach to people in organisations. We need to build on COVID-safe working and wellbeing and mental health programmes to create compassionate organisations where every individual is supported and can thrive. 

The future of corporate services

The rest of this series of articles will focus on how to respond to these trends through practical steps, insights and case studies.