Monday, August 17, 2020

ATO’s & KPMG’s blueprint for digital change


Andrew Mellon is a name well-known to historians and, probably, most tax lawyers.  See Wikipedia page, here.  He was very wealthy and powerful and served as Secretary of Treasury in Republican administrations from 1921 to 1932.  Among his prominent legacies was the seeding of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

A Mellon anecdote that I previously had not focused on was his tax travails where, after he left his Treasury Secretary position on Roosevelt’s election to the Presidency, the Government attempted unsuccessfully to indict him for tax evasion (11-10 vote in grand jury) and then issued a notice of deficiency seeking large deficiencies; somehow fraud was in issue (presumably either because of the civil fraud penalty or the statute of limitations).  Mellon v. Commissioner, 36 B.T.A. 977 (1937), here.  Robert Jackson, Wikipedia here, who later became Supreme Court Justice and chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, led the BTA case for the IRS.  The BTA rejected the IRS claim of fraud (36 B.T.A., at 1054-1055.

A Bit of History: Andrew Mellon and Tax Fraud

KPMG’s blueprint for digital change

How you make yourself more cost effective, grow the top line, transform, and disrupt.

While every organisation tackles digital transformation from its own perspective, the COVID-19 crisis has brought a single unifying motivation – survival.

COVID-19 has rewritten rules of customer behaviour and market requirements, disrupted supply chains, opened some new opportunities, and created fertile ground for agile young challengers to gain market share. 

According to KPMG’s global head of management consulting, Miriam Hernandez-Kakol, COVID-19 has brought greater urgency to the need for change and raised interest in the tools and processes that might enable its acceleration.

“We help our clients transform successfully,” she says. “Early on the client will struggle with how to actually make the change happen — it is hard for them to see the connection points across the entire set of challenges.”

Making this process visible is a key objective for KPMG’s Connected Enterprise, which provides a program and set of diagnostic tools to help organisations benchmark against industry best practices, and uncover the opportunities for transformation and the challenges that stand in their way.

Connected Enterprises uses five different ‘lenses’ to help organisations set the right path forward. These lenses map to five different perspectives from which transformation can be viewed – that of customers, employees, markets, channels and business partners, and the front, middle and back office functions.

Hernandez-Kakol says KPMG has also identified eight specific capabilities within the Connected Enterprise that can be used to determine where an organisation should be directing its efforts. These include attributes such as having an aligned and empowered workforce, insight-driven strategies and action, a digitally enabled technology architecture, and responsive operations and supply chains. KPMG has found that organisations that exhibit these attributes are twice as likely to succeed in their transformed state than those who don’t.

She says the result is a framework through which an organisation can assess its transformation goals and requirements and develop a programme of activity.

“We need to understand the triggers for transformation and the point at which the organisation has entered into the conversation,” Hernandez-Kakol says. “And then using the diagnostic tools that we have built, we can look at the eight capabilities through those five lenses and see where the biggest gap is.

“Helping organisations through that exercise is critical as a way to know where their biggest pain point is, or where they are going to get the biggest return straight away.”

Much of the power of the Connected Enterprise approach comes through asking executives to see activity areas through the eyes of the other parties identified in the five lenses, such as customers and partners. Hernandez-Kakol says this exercise enables an organisation to quickly map out its transformation journey. 

This approach also enables organisations to better consider the bigger picture of the world within which they operate and allows them to bring other considerations into play as they digitally transform. This may prove critical in the post-COVID 19 world, where customers’ interests and expectations may swing more towards those brands that have been seen to be doing good for society and the planet.

“How you grow matters,” Hernandez-Kakol says. “Given the world we live in, we are proud that that is the starting point. We are going to help you do these things for the good, not only for your company and profitability and sustained growth, but also for the good of society and our community and your employees.

“Because quite frankly, CEOs are becoming increasingly concerned about the sustainability of our planet.”

Once a client has established its vision and program, KPMG will then work with it to implement tools and strategies to accelerate its transformation. However, Hernandez-Kakol says a key goal of the program is to make transformation self-sustaining within the client. This approach ensures that transformation activity becomes an ongoing aspect of how the organisation operates.

“So we have created tools and other pieces which we leave with a client that gives them an insight-driven way to implement systems or manage data,” she says.

Hernandez-Kakol says this will be critical in the post COVID-19 era, where markets are changing rapidly, and where treating transformation as a discrete series of projects will not be sufficient to keep pace with evolving conditions.

“Transactions can’t help you transform,” she says.