• Christian Rast, Leadership |

In response to COVID-19, we’ve seen an explosion of online collaboration technology and remote working in organizations across the globe.

At KPMG for example, we’ve successfully kept our people connected by accelerating the roll out of Microsoft Teams to more than 240,000 professionals. Since March, we’ve run more than 250 virtual town halls and clocked north of 150 million virtual meetings.

And we’re not alone. In fact, KPMG’s recently published 2020 Global CEO Outlook finds that two out of three leaders say that despite physical barriers they feel more connected to their workforce following the pandemic.

So, is it all smooth sailing from here? Not quite. I see two challenges emerging in the new reality of working.

With the democratization of technology, now everyone is a content creator

The first is that we need to connect people with other people, but also with content. When remote work becomes the new normal, knowledge sits at home. Literally. Our collective expertise can no longer be mined in the office or by the watercooler. Instead it lives at kitchen tables and make-shift workspaces, amongst home schooling children and stretch-breaks in the living room.

Second, with the democratization of technology and the latest collaboration tools at our fingertips, now everyone is a content creator. This adds an entirely new, third dimension of content to the traditional internal and external data sources that we know. I call this “collaborative content.”

Gone are the days when people would send an email and save a PowerPoint deck onto their computer’s hard drive. Collaborative content encompasses video and audio files, meeting recordings and shared documents that evolve in real-time – all distributed through a variety of channels and hosted in multiple places.

At KPMG, we recently surpassed 25,000 Microsoft Teams groups globally. I myself am part of a whole roster of groups, which, to be frank, sometimes makes searching for the things I need feel daunting (I’m sure you can relate).

So how do we reconcile the creation of collaborative content with the growing amounts of internal and external data that needs to be stored securely and managed efficiently to derive value from?

We need to rethink and redesign how we connect people to insights

Content integration and accessibility is crucial for business success. We all need to be prepared for the virtual age by integrating content repositories now. Like many other organizations trying to address this challenge, KPMG set out and turned to the market in search for a solution. When we couldn’t find one that was fit for purpose, we developed our own.

It allows our professionals to access multiple content sources from across the network and is also integrated with external data to produce targeted insights for our clients – delivering results faster and with a click of the button. Data is mined from our closed intranet, service-specific content repositories, personal OneDrive and SharePoint sites, as well as globally licensed external data bases and the internet at large.

As with any technology, key to successful adoption is not just to make it work, but to make it work smoothly: People demand that technology be self-explanatory, work seamlessly and deliver a state-of-the-art user experience that is fit for market. Even if it’s an internal application, it certainly shouldn’t look like one.

Organizations hold the key to turn the virtual workplace into a connectivity hub

I’d argue that the much-discussed workplace of the future is here today, and it’s here to stay. In KPMG’s 2020 Global CEO Outlook, three out of four CEOs say their companies will continue to embrace digital collaboration and communications tools.

With the right technology, organizations now hold the key to turn the virtual workplace into a connectivity hub that has the power to bring people closer and connect them to the knowledge and insights required to win and wow clients.

Throughout this website, “we”, “KPMG”, “us” and “our” refers to the global organization or to one or more of the member firms of KPMG International Limited (“KPMG International”), each of which is a separate legal entity. KPMG International Limited is a private English company limited by guarantee and does not provide services to clients. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm.