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AiThority Interview With Cliff Justice, Principal and US Leader, Intelligent Automation, KPMG

Cliff Justice, Principal and US Leader of Intelligent Automation- KPMG

Know My Company

How do you deal with the smart technologies like AI and Intelligent Automation?

I work with businesses across all industries to understand how AI and intelligent automation can positively impact their business, such as creating smarter processes, cutting costs and amplifying human capacity. On one hand, I focus on the implementation aspect: how these technologies can be combined, piloted and scaled to accelerate a company’s digital transformation journey. On the other, I help them understand the impact of these technologies on their broader workforce: how will they impact jobs? How can companies retrain employees? What hires do they need to make to scale IA? At KPMG, we provide a holistic look at a company’s digital transformation and help their leaders establish a vision and a plan to make that vision a reality.

How did you start in this space? What galvanized you to be a part of KPMG?

Prior to joining KPMG, I was a managing director of EquaTerra in the US—a firm that was later acquired by KPMG. I helped lead that acquisition and integration, which subsequently established KPMG as one of the world’s leading shared service and outsourcing advisory firms. Throughout my career at KPMG, I have driven the firm’s strategy for intelligent automation within the context of business services operations and currently oversee our strategic growth investments in Intelligent Automation across the firm’s Audit, Tax and Advisory businesses.

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What are the various technologies and principles which impact Intelligent Automation?

Intelligent automation (IA) represents an umbrella of technologies that enables transformation and automation of business processes. While IA typically includes a combination of automation, analytics, and artificial intelligence, it also incorporates cloud, robotic process automation, and natural language processing. IA is a significant part of business transformation. In fact, 30 percent of enterprises are already investing more than $50 million in IA technologies, according to KPMG’s 2019 State of Intelligent Automation. IA will not only improve operational efficiency and effectiveness but also provide the basis for a broad range of new or enhanced products.

What is KPMG’s vision into Intelligent Automation and how does it impact Digital Transformation journeys for an organization?

Intelligent automation is drastically changing the future of work and businesses need to begin integrating and scaling these technologies now, or risk falling behind. In fact, the State of Intelligent Automation found that a company’s ability to scale IA was directly linked to their financial performance.

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How do leaders need to have a clear and supported vision for their company? How will the future workforce look like?

While almost half of executives believe that more than 20 percent of their workforce will be significantly impacted by IA in the next two years, we believe this is overly optimistic, however, in the long term this will dramatically change the nature of the tasks and work across the business impacting productivity in profound ways. At KPMG, we’re seeing forward-thinking customers who implement automation progress towards a workforce that blends humans and robots. In order to get there, businesses need to pursue the right combination of hiring new talent to bolster expertise internally while retraining employees to learn how to work with data and Machine Learning, focus on new business leads or become specialized in an industry or skill set. While the competition for talent is fierce, companies need the right people in place to drive scalable transformation strategies and stay competitive.

Which industries would be benefitted from accessing your recent resources on Intelligent Automation?

There is no industry that intelligent automation won’t impact. IA will span quickly across all industries and is already disrupting businesses at an accelerated pace. The competitive businesses of the future will be far along the IA curve of development.

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Where do you see IA growing in terms of revenue opportunities?

More than a third of today’s business leaders say they view IA as a way to drive future revenue growth, but many are also looking beyond revenue to broader goals such as better analytics, improved operational insights, enhanced customer service, and even new revenue streams.

How should young technology professionals train themselves to work better with automation and Intelligence-based tools?

Technology has become an inherent part of our lives, regardless of age and even location. We use technology throughout our days at home, at work, and everywhere in between. As much as it’s on the individual to stay up-to-date on emerging technologies, it’s up to companies to implement forward-thinking learning and development programs that take a dynamic and blended approach to learning, needs assessment and instruction delivery. This way employees of all ages, levels and skill sets can be prepared for the workplace of the future. In today’s business environment, jobs are going to continually change based on increasing automation, industry disruption and shifting business requirements so the mindset and willingness to learn new skills and adapt to changing technologies will be the most valuable.

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How has IA progressed? Where do you see IA heading beyond 2020?

We are still in the early stages of IA. For instance, more than one-third of companies indicated their primary focus right now is on one element of IA technology, while only 11 percent noted they are leveraging the power of all three technologies. Beyond 2020, we will start seeing more integrated solutions. 

What is the positive impact of AI?

The reality is that AI will have a huge impact on how organizations operate and on the nature of what constitutes work in the future. While there is concern about job replacement, there are several positive impacts such as addressing skills shortages in aging workforces, enhancing worker skills and automating the mundane to free up worker time to focus on value-added services such as analysing data instead of just processing it.

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What technologies within AI/NLP and Cloud Analytics are you interested in?

I tend to not focus on one technology instead of combining several technologies. By bringing together automation, analytics, AI, cloud, natural language processing (NLP), and more, we are able to drive a true business transformation. This combination of innovation, impact and change that will drive businesses forward.

As a tech leader, what industries you think would be fastest to adopt Analytics and AI/ML?

Every industry is being impacted by analytics and AI to some degree, but where we’re seeing the biggest variance is in the speed of adoption is within specific business functions. Based on the recent KPMG State of IA survey, there is significant investment in finance and accounting whereas functions like human resources have not received as much investment.

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What are the emerging markets for these technologies?

Emerging technologies like AI have no borders; they are being implemented across the globe. The greatest impact will be seen when these technologies – AI, cloud, automation, and others are combined and adopt at scale.

Thank you, Cliff! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.

Cliff is a principal in KPMG’s Innovation & Enterprise Solutions team, leading the firm’s Cognitive Automation initiatives. He is a leading authority on global service delivery model design and sourcing, with more than 25 years of experience in operations, technology, outsourcing, offshoring and business transformation. Cliff has been an early leader in applying intelligent automation, robotics and cognitive technologies to business operations and services.

KPMG is one of the world’s leading professional services firms and the fastest growing Big Four accounting firm in the United States. With 90 offices and more than 29,000 employees and partners throughout the US, we’re leading the industry in new and exciting ways. Our size and strength make us much more agile and responsive to changing trends.

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