Ken Gabriel, Partner, KPMG Advisory Tony Torchia, Partner, KPMG Advisory
Optimism was clearly apparent at the GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance) 2012 Conference (also covering HR and Finance Transformation) held in Las Vegas, March 13-16. After several years of slower growth, attendees showed renewed interest in engaging on projects. An increase in attendance was evident. In prior years, approximately one-quarter of the attendees have been interested in buying services, whereas this year it seemed three-quarters had active projects.
In 2010 and 2011, we witnessed slower decision-making and spending. At this year’s conference, clients told us they are moving forward with a variety of new projects, including Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC), GRC, finance transformations, and others. In what seems like an unleashing of pent-up demand, buyers seem more empowered to spend on necessary products and upgrades. In fact, clients who once struggled to demonstrate ROI to secure budget dollars are taking a more tactical ‘let’s get started’ approach today.
We observed four key areas of interest among attendees: BPC, Big Data, GRC, and Mobility:
Business Planning and Consolidation
The significant interest and uptick in implementations around BPC appears to stem from a desire for companies to dig deeper in the planning and budgeting forecasting process to achieve greater efficiency. It’s like a “perfect storm” right now: New releases of BPC software spur increased interest in the new versions and their capabilities, just at a time when budget dollars are freeing up and notably solving one of an organization’s biggest challenges. As noted in a recent CFO Publishing and KPMG International study, the number one barrier to improving the finance function is due to IT systems that are out of date, inflexible, and unable to support requirements. Additionally, a recent IBM CFO study cited that 74 percent of the respondents cited a need for faster decision making, a real outcome when focused on improving business planning tools.
We observed companies clearly wrestling with issues around data, such as governance, definition, ownership, sustainability, and data prioritization. It was apparent from our audience interaction and our panel discussion that this issue cannot easily be solved. A recent KPMG International study noted that 94 percent of global executives tell us that complexity is their greatest challenge — and information management ranks as one of the top two reasons why. Ironically, however, information management is also the most popular way to manage complexity, cited by 84 percent of executives in our research. Further research indicates that companies investing heavily in advanced analytical capabilities outperform the S&P 500 by 64 percent on average, research shows. Attendees tend to support our view that smart companies with a good enablement strategy can convert the problems of Big Data into Big Knowledge.
Governance Risk and Compliance
With the rollout of new GRC modules, many companies seek investments to improve user access automation and efficiency around their process controls. Companies with budget dollars are now talking tactics and how to use GRC most effectively to improve their business processes.
In recent years, GRC has grown more important. Five years ago, companies needed GRC for compliance purposes only; now, companies are seeking greater ROI. Today, it’s really a business issue. New thinking centers on increased functionality and robust capabilities. Business considerations drive demand for more integrated GRC-type platforms with more effective sequencing, scale, and scope. As the complexity of GRC systems increases, it is more important than ever to focus on business issues and processes before proceeding to implementation.
Businesses are placing demand on IT organizations to quickly implement mobile applications. As noted in a Information Week 2012 Global CIO Survey, February 2012, the number one factor impeding IT’s ability to support the business is their inability to implement fast enough to meet their goals. Mobility is clearly placing stress on IT organizations, as we observed several companies inquiring about getting up to speed on mobility to share data across multiple tools and platforms, and access them from a variety of mobile devices. Business users understandably are excited by the prospects of mobility and are hungry for new global applications that are simple, user friendly, and readily available.
Accessing data real-time, in-memory applications anywhere has significant business appeal: You get what you need, at any volume, when you need it, and without being tied to traditional computer technologies–enticing prospects to be sure. However, such increasing business demands add more stress to IT organizations and strains their ability to deliver.
 KPMG, Confronting Complexity: Research Findings and Insights, May 2011.
 An interview with Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne Harris, “Analytics and the Bottom Line: How Organizations Build Success,” Harvard Business Review, Sept. 23, 2010.
For more from KPMG on this topic, visit the KPMG Shared Services and Outsourcing Institute.