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Digital gets personal

In the old days, you had business and then you laid technology on top of it. Today, business is technology and everything we do has technology threaded through it.

Susan Story
President and CEO
American Water

CEOs take direct charge of digital transformation and trust

CEOs are optimistic about the sweeping change that digital can bring – and increasingly so.

In fact their sense of comfort with disruption is growing fast. Some 95% now say they see technological disruption as an opportunity rather than a threat – a huge 30-point increase on 2017.

And CEOs seem increasingly determined to seize the competitive edge disruption promises, with over half saying they are actively disrupting their own sector, rather than waiting for competitors to move first.

As your services change to deliver what your customer wants, your workforce will change to understand the technology platforms that you’re delivering the service on. If you do that correctly, the whole innovation process will run through, and you’ll stay either current or ahead of the game.

Nick Ogden

Owning transformation

As companies digitalise, it’s clear that more and more CEOs are determined to lead the charge for their organisations.

An average of 71% of global CEOs we surveyed said they are prepared to lead their organisation in radically transforming the operating model. In the UK, 67% of CEOs said they were prepared to lead on this crucial task.

It’s something Mark Goodburn, KPMG’s Global Head of Advisory, sees increasingly. “More and more of the CEOs I speak to are telling me: ‘I am personally leading our digital charge.’ That says to me – ‘I’m creative, adaptive and agile and prepared to transform my business to be successful in the digital world’.

More and more of the CEOs I speak to are telling me, ‘I am personally leading our digital charge’. That says to me, ‘I’m creative, adaptive and agile, and prepared to transform my business to be successful in a digital world’.

Mark Goodburn
Global Head of Advisory

How prepared are CEOs to personally lead radical operating model transformation? (by country)

Source: 2018 Global CEO Outlook, KPMG International

Data can prove very dangerous if companies forget that it’s a liability as well as an asset.

Mark Thompson
Global Privacy Advisory Lead
KPMG in the UK

The CEO as data protector

CEOs recognise that customer data could be their most valuable asset, transforming their ability to personalise products and services.

Equally they know that any misuse of data or breach in security can destroy customer trust, with potentially devastating and very public consequences for the business.

Increasingly, CEOs see protecting data as critical to their role, with 59% globally saying they regard it as one of their most important responsibilities.

Yet that was not the picture everywhere. In the UK for instance, only 40% of CEOs listed customer data protection as their personal responsibility.

Protection of customer data is a top personal responsibility for CEOs (by country)

Source: 2018 Global CEO Outlook, KPMG International

In the last 10 years, social media, digital and the internet have been transformational for a lot of businesses and we are no different. We tend to measure it in terms… of brand health scores, brand saliency and how younger consumers in particular are reacting to our brands.

Stephen Glancey

Unrealistic expectations

As well as acting as champions of change, CEOs are also under the spotlight in terms of delivering value from digital transformation – and sometimes expectations can be challenging.

UK CEOs seem to feel the weight of that expectation more than most. Some 72% say their boards have unrealistic expectations on rates of return, compared with 51%, globally. The demand for quick results is intense too, with 86% of UK CEOs (versus 65%, globally) saying their boards set lead times to achieve significant progress that can be overwhelming.

Managing expectations is therefore critical. Seven in 10 UK CEOs expect to see significant returns from digital transformation within one to three years, while only 21% expect to see the benefits within 12 months. This is a longer timeframe than for some of their global peers, where 29% expect returns within a year.

It’s a bit short-sighted to focus solely on quantitative metrics. Some of the qualitative measures we’ve looked at are things like general competitive advantage.

Traci Gusher
KPMG Data & Analytics Centre of Excellence

Humans will continue to do jobs in high-touch segments such as the arts, social enterprises and entertainment, selling and marketing, where humans pull on people’s heartstrings. But I believe that almost all blue-collar workers will be replaced by ‘metal collar’ workers… robots equipped with intelligence and super-intelligence.

Masayoshi Son

AI could be a job creator

CEOs are reconfiguring their workforces, ready for the time when smart machines and talented people work side-by-side.

There’s obvious disquiet for some people who believe automation and AI will have a big and negative impact on jobs. Interestingly, a clear majority of CEOs take a more positive view, with 62% of global CEOs and 71% in the UK arguing that AI will create more jobs than it destroys over the next three years.

Whatever the outcome, businesses clearly need to prepare people properly for the full implications of new technologies, including helping people to reinvent themselves and develop new skills.

Business leaders need to arm the workforce for a new ‘machine age’ of increasing artificial intelligence and automation. We have to face up to the fact [they] will have a significant impact on the way we work – so let’s redevelop our workforce.

Duncan Tait
Senior Executive Vice President