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Home to 60 percent of the world’s population, with more than 3,000 languages and dialects across its inhabitants, the Asia–Pacific is the world’s most diverse region. It’s an assortment of cultures that brings with it both challenges and opportunities to the world of business, explains KPMG Asia Pacific Head of Technology, Media and Telecom Darren Yong.
“In short, a one-size global model will not fit the whole of Asia–Pacific,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “Instead, we need the ability to take the best of what we do globally and hyper-localize it into those local markets.”
“We need to understand the market, take signals from the market and understand what our clients are going through in that local market.”
To effectively achieve these goals, it’s essential to listen to the market and then embark on a customer-led transformation process.
“That means we need to be market oriented: we need to understand the market, take signals from the market and understand what our clients are going through in that local market,” he explains.
“Being able to solve customer digital engagement models in the local market isn’t as simple as just downloading that same app, because of language, the way that the ecosystem works locally, the way that governments allow ecosystems to play and the way multinationals operate.”
With all of these factors differing from market to market, KPMG Asia Pacific has focused on harnessing insights at a local level within “the construct of a global approach”.
“This is critical for our ability to succeed and one of the key challenges we see, therefore the client needs to be at the center of everything that we do,” Yong says.
“The nature of consulting is changing and we need to adapt our capabilities around the mix of execution and problem-solving.”
It’s the local experience that heavily influences the company’s movements throughout the region, particularly when it comes to investing.
“If we understand where the market is, and the needs in each market, this leads us to where and how we invest,” he reflects.
“Typically when we look at future skills, we have a tendency to only focus on the macro trends – for example, cloud and AI – but which cloud vendor should we work with in different markets in Asia? What type of applications and software and services will that market need?”
To find the right solutions, companies must shift the way they look at their future capability sets, assessing where they need to be and taking the necessary steps to get there. Part of this involves a shift toward outside-the-box thinkers who “go beyond traditional models to solve untraditional problem statements”, according to Yong.
“The nature of consulting is changing and we need to adapt our capabilities around the mix of execution and problem-solving. In short, we need more right-brain thinkers to enhance our left-brain execution skills.”
By enhancing its focus on its clients and introducing a more focused sector model, KPMG Asia Pacific is outperforming its targets across priority accounts and sectors.
“Broadly we see a 20–50 percent incremental growth where we have put focus on a particular account or a particular sector program,” Yong reveals.
“As our clients look to also reinvent themselves, this approach allows us to better understand the market trends and nuances within each sector. Going to market by sector, via our accounts, is the number one area that we really want to reinforce.”
“Our ability to bring these new ideas, solve problems and work with technology to create moments of magic, or moments that matter, will help transform our clients.”
Firm in his belief that consulting needs to evolve, he says that ensuring there is continual change within the organization as well as redefining the way its clients perceive it is also crucial to KPMG Asia Pacific’s enduring success.
“We’re working with alliance partners and digital natives to bring new ways to solve problems and advance our client agenda,” he says.
“Our ability to bring these new ideas, solve problems and work with technology to create moments of magic, or moments that matter, will help transform our clients and the way they see us.”
Innovation is intrinsic to this vision, with immersion in the world of Web3 a big part of the plan. The firm is also leveraging technology such as blockchain and AI to redefine its engagements and raise the bar.
Capturing the opportunities created by the ongoing convergence of sectors is another area of interest for the firm, with Yong offering examples of telcos venturing into areas like banking, insurance and health.
“We see digital innovation in the Asia–Pacific creating new business models and new ways of working,” he says. “There’s a blurring of the lines between the way we all interact. Capitalizing on those innovation areas is really what we are doing in the Asia–Pacific, to try and stand out from the competition.”
Yong is indeed well versed in the way of the multinational. He has been with KPMG Asia Pacific for the past nine years, but the 20 years prior were spent deploying large-scale technology and IT solutions to global clients across a range of sectors.
“As we sold technology solutions to multinationals, we would naturally focus more on the technology; however, as I started to engage more with the C-suite, I realized that the business needs and how technology enables them was the most important factor,” he recalls.
“I was interested because it gave me the opportunity to focus on the needs of the business and align technology solutions to deliver greater impact.”
This ability to recognize and act on trends, realize that data and platforms are key and capture the rise of hyper-local markets is crucial to the future of KPMG Asia Pacific. To this end, Yong confirms the firm is working closely with blockchain companies to transform how governments, banks and consumers engage via decentralized platforms.
“These are areas that perhaps many companies we work with are still experimenting in,” he explains. “We want to be known as consultants who not only understand problem statements from our clients, but also deliver applications and real-world solutions to enable commercial change.”