KPMG invests in cognitive computing capability

Professional services firm strikes strategic alliance with IBM

KPMG believes cognitive computing will play a key role in its future, as well as the future of its clients as they grappled with technology-driven disruption to their industries.

The professional services firm earlier this month unveiled an agreement with IBM to offer services based on the tech giant’s Watson cognitive computing platform.

“KPMG signed a strategic alliance agreement with IBM Watson, which now goes hand in hand with an alliance agreement we have with Microsoft as well,” KPMG Australia’s national chairman, Peter Nash, yesterday told a media roundtable.

“We see both of those agreements are as critical to the future of our business,” Nash said. KPMG announced its strategic collaboration agreement with Microsoft 12 months ago.

The agreements affect the way KPMG delivers services and the solutions the firm can deliver to clients, Nash said.

The alliances are part of KPMG’s “cognitive ecosystem”, Nash said, and are mutually beneficial arrangements for the services company and the technology vendors.

“IBM Watson and some of Microsoft’s own cognitive technologies that we use are ideas and capabilities that need to find their way to the problems that they can solve and to the people that need to solve them,” Nash said.

“Those technologies are coming in to our ecosystem, which is 174,000 people in about 150 countries [that are] equipped now with cognitive solutions.”

KPMG Australia CEO Gary Wingrove said that within its management consulting practice the company is seeing two key drivers for growth in Australia. The first is the level of inbound infrastructure investment; the second is technology-driven disruption across a range of industries.

“Our management consulting business is growing faster than it’s ever grown before, and at the heart of that growth is the technological change and disruption that’s occurring across our whole client base,” Wingrove said.

“Our clients are looking for solutions to address that technological change and the speed with which that’s happening.”

In response, KPMG has invested in new capabilities, including through acquisitions in areas such as cyber security, financial services IT, and CRM services.

That investment has included establishing a new capability dubbed ‘Solution 49x’ within KPMG.

KPMG partner Raphael James said Solution 49x is focussed on the intersection of three technologies: Digital, analytics, and cognitive capabilities.

“Our primary focus is to articulate for our clients, for organisations — how do you make sense of the pace of change that we’re seeing in each of these domains and how do you intersect and bring together these capabilities to have an effect on the entire organisation?

“Underpinning some of those areas is really things like economics and mathematics and behavioural science, anthropology, psychology, etc.”

Solution 49x was established in late 2015. Its name comes from the 49 known perfect numbers.

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