KPMG New Zealand has inked a local partnership with Microsoft to help the firm's clients boost innovation and digital transformation.
Microsoft Azure is already the backbone of a joint, global cloud-based platform that has strengthened KPMG’s range of digital offerings, cloud-based innovations and solutions worldwide.
That came about as the result of a US$5 billion 2019 alliance designed to accelerate digital transformation for KPMG’s member firms and mutual clients.
The new local partnership would enable KPMG NZ to help both public and private sector clients improve decision-making, increase productivity and achieve cost efficiencies using Azure cloud and artificial intelligence technologies.
By partnering with Microsoft, KPMG NZ could not only advise on cloud strategy, but also facilitate end-to-end cloud migration enhanced with analytics, AI and digital technology, said KPMG NZ chief executive Godfrey Boyce.
While the new deal was in part a product of the "clear marker" laid down by the 2019 global alliance, Boyce said, it was also a progression of a decade-long local working relationship with Microsoft NZ.
"Alliances and partnerships over the last three yeas has been a fundamental sea-change," Boyce said. "Our firm has aligned itself around these."
KPMG globally operated as a federal structure allowing local initiatives, the two organisations were also near-neighbours in Auckland and shared many clients. Opportunities for collaboration had therefore grown over time.
Advisory was now the biggest part of KPMG and as the practice rolled out Microsoft platforms and tools within its own business the relationship only grew deeper.
One of the most exciting opportunities was the new "Lighthouse" centre of excellence managed service group being led by Steve Hastings.
"That will be a big part of the journey for the next three or four years for us," Boyce said.
Cowan Pettigrew, CTO of KPMG New Zealand, said the managed services capability was based around the development and operation of managed services capabilities that provided evidence-based insights.
"Some of this solutions enable clients to make business calls, not just on a gut feeling, but from a data driven analytical background," Pettigrew said.
"The product stack really leans into that conversation, providing that capability."
Once the Microsoft datacentre region was live, applications currently in Australia would be transferred home and new managed services stood up as well, he said.
KPMG globally had developed Microsoft Azure cloud-based solutions in areas such as inventory management and logistics management for significant clients across the public, retail and utilities sectors, Boyce said.
The local partnership would allow KPMG NZ to further develop its own cloud-based solutions and to offer these “as-a-service” to clients as well.
"We live in a world of change and disruption, and our ability to reimagine, innovate and create actionable insights is critical to our future," Boyce said.
"KPMG must continuously digitally transform ourselves and help our clients and communities to do the same."
Boyce said when he ran KPMG's advisory practice up to 2016, he did not see the firm doing systems implementation or "builds".
"In this environment, with the technology we have today, that is now part of what we are about."
Pettigrew said part of his role was to expand the horizontal applications KPMG could offer, software that could service many clients. This could in part be achieved through using KPMG's growing global catalogue if the applications were applicable to the New Zealand market.
However, the firm also had real strengths in industry vertical applications and that mix would continue.
Migration of KPMG NZ's current Azure cloud services to the new datacentre region would provide a future-proofed local environment to support the modernised application needs of KPMG’s technical consulting divisions and internal IT teams.
That will also help to meet New Zealand data residency rules and providing additional protection under New Zealand privacy laws.
Vanessa Sorenson, managing director of Microsoft New Zealand, said a business of the global scale and reach of KPMG had the power to drive change across all levels of organisations and accelerate New Zealand's recovery.
"KPMG intends to develop new Microsoft Azure products and services and deepen its digital capabilities to address the key challenges clients face, such as navigating the exponential rate of change in the digital world, and rapidly evolving customer needs," Sorenson said.
There were also real opportunities to partner for the development of digital skills and diversity.
"One of the things we are excited with with KPMG is to get behind our new initiative called 10,000 Wahine, where we want to empower and showcase to all females that tech roles are where the future is," Sorenson said.
Maori and Pacifica were also very under-represented.
Intern programmes and opening up certifications was part of the strategy, especially ahead of the new datacentre region opening.
Pettigrew said there was an opportunity to do something special in that area and a "ton of alignment" between the two companies.
"I think there is an opportunity to do something special across the board," he said.
In 2020, KPMG was named the Global system integration digital transformation 2020 Microsoft partner of the year.