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Digital Workforce Requires Human Resources to Make Holistic Changes or Risk Obsolescence: KPMG Survey

KPMG Survey: Digital Workforce Challenging HR Execs

Intelligent automation investments will drive significant change. Uncertainty in planning the workforce of the future.


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A growing number of companies are embracing the need to transform their human resources functions in order to adapt to the current disruptive business environment, according to the 2017 KPMG HR Transformation Survey. However, findings show that the road to modernization is not yet fully paved.

KPMG’s survey of nearly 900 leading global HR executives found that leaders view today’s disruption as an opportunity to transform their business models and drive growth. Specifically, 65 percent say they view technology disruption as an opportunity, and 68 percent say they have taken steps to challenge themselves in the past year. The caveat in all this is that while most HR initiatives are said to be meeting expectations, more than half (59 percent) of organizations say they still lack a business case or appropriate metrics to measure results and return on investment.

“As disruption changes the way people work, our 2017 survey reveals the revamping of priorities and expectations for human resources,” says Claudia Saran, KPMG U.S. People and Change leader. “While the leading organizations are proactively driving efforts to redefine their workforces in the digital age, we also see many HR leaders struggling to craft and seize a meaningful role for themselves and their teams to play in shaping the organization’s workforce. The message is clear: help architect holistic workforce change for your organization, or sit on the sidelines and watch others get it done.”

One key opportunity for HR to drive value is by leading discussions around the adoption of intelligent automation (IA), which is seen as a paradigm-shifting force that will reshape the workforce and HR function.

Approximately half of the survey respondents expect IA investments will drive significant change for their businesses in the future, including the impact of process automation on their HR operating models. As such, for respondents who consider themselves to be strategic to the business, 66 percent are driving the conversation on intelligent automation opportunities, benefits and challenges.

The top focus areas for IA efforts include talent management (61 percent) and talent acquisition (57 percent). While the implications are mixed, as automation enters the workforce it has the opportunity to spur new jobs and enhance expertise. [See KPMG’s recent publication Rise of the Humans for more background on this topic.]

HR data and analytics also is a priority investment focus for a third of the respondents. Redefining the HR function and its value to the business by making it evidence-based requires the use of technology and skills that capitalize on the immense value and competitive advantages of data and analytics. This is not without its challenges, as 51 percent of respondents cited weak data and analytics capabilities in existing HR IT systems as the biggest challenge their organization faces in adopting, deploying and exploiting predictive analytics focused on both HR and business outcomes.

“For organizations to successfully execute their HR and human capital strategies in the digital age, they must enable smarter decision-making using the latest in technology – cloud, mobile, data and analytics and cognitive computing – this is the goal of digital transformation,” says Michael DiClaudio, KPMG U.S. Advisory principal.

For more information and to download the executive summary of the 2017 KPMG HR Transformation Survey, go to Follow the conversation @KPMG on Twitter using the hashtag #HRsurvey.

Further analysis will be released in the coming months on the modernization of HR, effective change management and the realities of intelligent automation. Subscribe to HR Survey updates to receive this.

About this survey

This is the 20th anniversary of the KPMG HR Transformation Survey. A total of 887 executives from 48 countries participated in the survey, representing 27 industries across Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Middle East/Africa and Latin America.


KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm (, is the independent U.S. member firm of KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”). KPMG International’s independent member firms have 189,000 professionals, including more than 9,000 partners, in 152 countries.


Christopher Bacey
201-505-6194/908-797-5143 (c)

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