Thriving in a digital world

KPMG offers four steps toward operating and thinking differently in the face of changing customer and employee expectations.

Understanding ‘why’ people do things, rather than ‘how’, is critical.

Accelerating advances in technology are changing the rules and risks of business, which means market leaders need to operate and think differently. By shifting the focus beyond technology and onto employees and customers, organizations understand the relationships with those who produce, buy and benefit from their products and services. This is how they succeed in a digital world.


It is about user centricity within the digital landscape. Organizations can solve the right problems for their specific needs by articulating what those problems are.
Todd Clare, KPMG Experience Design and Engineering

By focusing on people and process, being agile and constantly revisiting solutions, today’s market leaders identify and solve the right problems, get to market quickly, and drive business growth. KPMG believes there are four steps organizations can take today to thrive in the face of current market shifts:

  • Focus on the problem first 
  • Design for people, not processes
  • Deliver small, fast and often
  • Always look for improvements

Step 1

Step 1 - Focus on the problem first

The world is shifting from being predictably complicated to a state of constantly changing complexity, with ambiguous challenges and infinite solutions. Even best practice is being redefined as organizations increasingly implement solutions that have never been done before.

Market leaders across sectors, who are successfully applying a digital way of thinking to their business needs, spend more time in the problem space.

This thinking—sometimes referred to as Design Thinking—focuses on outcomes. How are customers and employees interacting with an organization? What are their motivations and desires? What are their pain points?

Understanding this requires intensive quantitative and qualitative research that focuses on the “why”, rather than the “how”. By discovering what people actually do, rather than what they say, organizations can understand and anticipate future, unarticulated needs and align these to their business. This helps employees identify real issues they never knew existed and leads to innovative digital and non digital solutions never imagined. 

Because these solutions are defined by how they impact the people who matter, they are the key to the most profitable forms of adoption and growth.

Peoples’ thought processes and behaviors are not always rational, logical or linear. By gaining perspectives and input from customers, employees and functional leaders, organizations can connect the dots, and find the disconnect, between their business goals and their customers reality.

Step 2

Step 2- Design for people, not processes

When faced with countless challenges and potential solutions, it is easy to get left behind. Successful organizations design solutions that offer true value to customers by connecting to their real world needs.

It is about understanding the user journey. How do they interact with the organization? How do these actions fit into their life? What do they think of their overall experience? Most importantly, why do they act in the way they do?

Identifying customer motivations takes thorough field research across a variety of locations to understand the full spectrum of touch points. This “journey mapping” gives organizations clear insights into the rational and sometimes irrational ways that people interact with their surroundings.

Armed with these insights, organizations can define employee or customer engagement, map out future states and design solutions that align user desires and motivations with business strategy. Ultimately, this enables you to build solutions around real behaviors—solutions that are desirable and intuitive to use, and that deliver real business returns.

Step - 3

Step - 3- Deliver small, fast and often

In this new, fast-moving reality, organizations face some of their biggest operational and technical challenges just to remain competitive. They can no longer afford to take months, or even years, to implement major business change. The smart organization approaches problem solving quickly to meet the constantly evolving needs of a restless market.

The importance of customer experience means that successful organizations focus on creating new mindsets over new technologies. Do they have the confidence to start small and learn as they go? Are they prepared to fail? Can they adapt quickly? Are their solutions people focused? 

These organizations identify small wins that meet customer expectations and connect to business outcomes, and then build on them. These wins are not always strictly digital—they could just as easily involve adopting a new business process as developing a responsive Web site. What defines these wins is that they are developed with a human perspective.

Through prototyping, user feedback and multiple iterations, businesses can progress in small steps that build on each other. This encourages increased innovation and experimentation, and can lead to high-value outcomes that directly benefit the bottom line.

Step 4

Step 4- Always look for improvements

Innovation is not just a box to be checked. It is achieved through a continuous process of discovery and development. This is being driven primarily not by business strategy or technical necessity, but by increasingly demanding customer expectations.

Because people’s actions are often unpredictable and illogical, successful organizations must be nimble and ready to adapt. Are customers happy with the available solutions? How are new competitors disrupting the market and how will these disruptions impact business? What new technologies could improve the customer experience?

Through continuous questioning, research and robust analytics, businesses can better understand how users receive solutions to make relevant improvements. This helps to ensure they continue to adapt to meet the needs of the constantly evolving digital world where long-standing approaches rarely remain relevant.

Whether these approaches are technologybased or not, they are developed with the users’ needs in mind and an eye on the future.