Thinking People Breakfast - Future of HR | KPMG | UK
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Thinking People Breakfast - Future of HR

Thinking People Breakfast - Future of HR

Our Thinking People breakfast event looked at capitalising on new technologies to unlock the potential of people.


Partner, People and Change

KPMG in the UK


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Cloud in blue sky

At our December event, we welcomed:

• Robert Bolton, Partner, Global HR Centre of Excellence, KPMG in the UK

• Richard Doherty, Senior Director, EMEA Product Marketing, Workday

• Gerald Hussey, VP HR Transformation, HR Services, GlaxoSmithKline

• Shamus Rae, Partner, Head of Innovation and Investments, KPMG in the UK


Our speakers explored the big opportunities and challenges ahead for HR departments as cloud-based systems and artificial intelligence reshape the workplace. That and other topics highlighted from the event include: 

Using cloud HR to drive transformation

Cloud computing can help create a more strategic HR function that drives value for the business. It offers a platform for engagement and collaboration, and provides the HR function with near-real-time decision support. But most organisations struggle to realise maximum benefits. 

To achieve transformational rather than purely tactical benefits, organisations need to be bolder. KPMG’s 2016 Global HR Transformation Survey identifies four priorities for organisations looking to achieve more: take full advantage of functionality, develop HR and line manager capability, switch to evidence-based practice and enable, and manage, change. 

Shifting from talent management to employee engagement

Traditional management systems help the HR function manage talent and run HR processes more efficiently. New cloud-based systems are radically different. They provide a platform for engagement and collaboration, and help HR maximise the potential of every employee.

Personalisation is the key to creating a meaningful experience for each employee. Systems like Workday, for example, allow HR to use what they know about individuals – what career stage they’re at, what their skills gaps are, and so on – to tailor communications and content and make them relevant for each employee.

Learning from the trailblazers

Global businesses, like GlaxoSmithKline, are transforming their HR functions with new cloud-based systems. These typically provide a single, integrated solution spanning core human capital management, compensation, talent and performance management, absence and reporting and analytics. 

Managing the transformation poses a massive challenge. But the next wave of adopters can learn from the experiences of the pioneers. Getting data in shape, recognising the impact on downstream systems, having active senior sponsors and setting realistic expectations can all help smooth the transformation.

Exploring the impact of artificial intelligence 

With the processing power of computers doubling every two years, computers capable of processing information 1,000 times faster than the human brain, will exist within 12 years or so. Expect to see the same type of acceleration in the development of artificial intelligence (AI) too. 

For now, ‘narrow’ AI – where computer programmes simulate knowledge – is being used to perform specific tasks, such as scanning audit reports for key data or recognising patterns of behaviour in employees. But artificial general intelligence – so sophisticated that it can’t be distinguished from human intelligence – could be a reality by 2050.

Both types of AI, as they develop, will cause jobs to be reconfigured and redesigned – and many will disappear. KPMG’s ‘Rise of the humans’ report examines the impact on the workforce and the HR function, and the nature of the challenge for business and HR leaders.

What did our guests think?

In live polling, 70% of our guests said their organisations were already using or exploring the possibility of using robotic automation. But none yet thought that robots were likely to replace people completely. 

Almost 50% identified productivity as the area of people management most likely to be affected by robotic technology. Employee engagement and workforce planning also scored a significant share of the vote.

Will the impact of social impact of robotics be good or bad? The vote was close. With 53% claiming they were only mildly concerned or not concerned at all about how society will change and 47% said they were concerned or very concerned.

At KMPG, we acknowledge the transformation ahead but anticipate a series of potentially positive outcomes. Cognitive technologies can spur a growth in jobs overall and enhance human skills and expertise. Read our ‘Rise of the humans’ report to find out more.

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