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KPMG: Redefining the workplace and staying ahead of cyber threats

Be it creating a collaborative space for work and play or tackling cyber threats, both Lem Chin Kok and Jan Reinmueller of KPMG believe that constant innovation is key.

Cybersecurity and employee engagement may seem like two very different areas in an organisation but they both share the same philosophy of innovation, vigilance and the ability to anticipate future needs while addressing current problems.

In the field of cybersecurity and digital forensics, KPMG has been well prepared. “We started building our capabilities in computer forensics 16 years ago, forensic data analytics about 13 years ago, as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning about ten years ago. The team has grown over the years both in capability and in size, and we now have a team of about 80 full-time forensic professionals and 100 full-time cyber professionals in Singapore,” shares Lem Chin Kok, who also heads the KPMG forensic practices in Asia Pacific.

Lem elaborates on KPMG’s award-winning in-house cybersecurity solutions and the rising importance of cybersecurity in organisations, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lem Chin Kok, head of risk consulting, KPMG.

Lem Chin Kok, head of Risk Consulting, KPMG.

How does KPMG’s in-house Threat Hunting tool compare with commercial off-the-shelf products?
The KPMG Cyber Threat Hunting Solution is an end-to-end solution that combines the investigative experience of forensic professionals with the multi-dimensional discovery capability of data science to identify otherwise undetected threats and anomalies. It collects, analyses and reports extensive threats and anomalies from both past and current system activities that covers more 90 per cent of all attack vectors based on the MITRE ATT&CK Matrix (Mar 2019).

Unlike commercial off-the shelf products, the KPMG Cyber Threat Hunting Solution collects data in a precise and forensically sound approach that can be presented as evidence in court and does not require software installation for data collection.

KPMG was contacted to help one of the world’s leading maritime groups deal with a serious cyber incident. What are your proudest achievements for the client?
The client experienced a massive cyber-attack which involved more than one thousand affected end points located in six different countries. Leveraging on our cyber threat hunting solution and through strong collaboration with our client, we were able to swiftly investigate the breach, contain and remediate the cyber threat within a week. Being able to recover from this incident rapidly meant that the client experienced minimal impact to its business and revenue.

Why do you think cybersecurity is an important part of business operations and risk management, especially during this Covid-19 pandemic?
This pandemic has accelerated many organisations’ plans to adopt technologies such as cloud technology and digitise their operations. This accelerated move has also created unprecedented IT and cybersecurity risks which can severely impact business operations and reputation.

How does KPMG keep up with evolving cyber threats?
We continue to invest in building depth and capabilities in tackling cyber threats with a team of about 550 dedicated cyber security professionals in Singapore, India and Indonesia. The team specialises across all cyber verticals, including cyber response, operational technology and cloud security. Besides creating the award-winning KPMG Cyber Threat Hunting Solution tool, we have also built the KPMG Cyber Range, which can develop and build realistic scenarios and simulate today’s growing network traffic volume and complex malware attacks to train your cybersecurity personal effectively.

The interior of the KPMG clubhouse.

The interior of the KPMG clubhouse.

A better place to work

Digital Village, the innovation arm of KPMG, has been working on defining the future of work when it came up with the idea of transforming employee engagement in the audit firm.

“We decided to talk to a few groups of people within the firm to understand issues closer to home, and we found out that there is a lapse between the time employees encounter challenges and the time management hears about it,” says Jan Reinmueller, head of Digital Village at KPMG. “Normally, corporations run their employee survey once a year, and while the actions derived from the survey address past problems, they do not cater for future needs at all.” The company then focused on redesigning KPMG Clubhouse, a collaborative workspace, to increase employee engagement.

Reinmueller shares more about the process of building the project that received the Human Capital Management award.

Jan Reinmueller, head of Digital Village, KPMG.

Jan Reinmueller, head of Digital Village, KPMG.

Why is employee engagement vital in organisations, especially in big ones like KPMG? Why should organisations invest in such solutions?
There is an increasing proportion of millennials in the workforce, and the professional needs for this group of employees can be very different – it’s less about the paycheck and more about the purpose or the development path. So, we started rethinking engagement for this group and what the employee value proposition for them would be. This has obvious bottom line benefits for organisations in terms of not having to incur significant costs of replacing employees.

Digital Village applied the design thinking process in redesigning the KPMG Clubhouse. Why did you follow this? Is this the group’s go-to approach to its innovations?
We believe in a human-centred approach, rather than a product-centred approach. There is nothing wrong with the traditional notion of a “corporate ladder” and many companies out there successfully follow a product-centred approach. However, once the proposition is launched, our belief is that a human-centred design provides clear advantages in the form of boosted user adoption which ultimately results in lower marketing spending.

What were the key challenges that Digital Village encountered in giving the KPMG Clubhouse an overhaul and how did you overcome them?
We wanted to create a space that is emotional and social, yet functional. When we translated this into interior design ideas and tested various concepts with employees and key stakeholders, the opinions were divided: the older generation wanted a fresh and clean design but the younger generation were in clear favour of a more traditional, almost “romantic” design. We had to balance between the two and it certainly was not easy. We had to continuously iterate the design through usability testing with the target groups, until we had the winning recipe.

What are the important elements that make up projects targeting employee engagement, such as the KPMG Clubhouse?
For me, the key to success is to understand the pain points and unmet needs in today’s corporate environment first, before bringing in modern technologies to enable highly innovative propositions in a fast and cost-effective way. Once the first step is completed and the employees are using a proposition which caters to their needs, the insights or data generated can help any corporation to truly predict what employees need next.

What is in store for the future of Digital Village?
At the moment, we are helping many corporations rethink engagement, especially for their customers and salesforce. Many corporations don’t really understand the needs of these groups. The question really is how can we engage better, learn more and sell more. The platform we have built enables new and relevant propositions for employees, customers and the salesforce.