How Harnath Babu is Scaling IT Initiatives to Become Revenue Earning Propositions for KPMG

Very few CIOs have the vision accompanied with the grit to really grow IT initiatives beyond the internal business functions and scale them to a level where they can become revenue earning propositions for their organizations. One such CIO is Harnath Babu, CIO, KPMG India.


What can a CIO do to help a multi-services consulting and professional services firm providing tax, audit, risk and financial advisory services earn more money, you may ask. A lot, if one were to just look at the lifecycle trajectory and progression of two of the key IT initiatives undertaken by Babu in recent times – chatbot and analytics dashboard.


In both the cases it started with the basics of a simple technology applied to running the IT shop, followed by applying it for optimizing business, followed by eventually taking it to the market as a client offering to generate revenues.


Here’s more on these two initiatives.


Early 2017, the company decided to explore cognitive and started with building chatbot for the IT helpdesk to answer and resolve any IT related issues faced by its employees. So, instead of calling up an engineer/helpdesk the employee can now chat with the bot to get a solution.


Explaining the genesis of the initiatives, Babu points out, “Considering a lot of our employees are traveling or on client site, it was difficult to provide tech support to them on the field. We found the chatbot to be a good alternative to efficiently and cost effectively provide helpdesk support to all our 20,000 employees across the country. While one can set up a very efficient 24x7 help desk, that is not an optimum way of doing it.”


With the chatbot for IT helpdesk gaining good traction among employees it was extended to HR helpdesk for offering complete HR related services. Now Babu and his team are working on extending this further to the advisory and consulting teams serving different service lines.


KPMG is a very broad-based consulting firm with 20,000 employees providing assurance, tax consulting, management and risk consulting services across all possible domains. Knowing and managing the regulations, norms and risks when engaging with the clients is key for the employees. So, one can imagine the complexity with which the workforce is going out for consulting and advising the clients.


“To manage that complexity at the back-end we need to have the right information and knowledge in hand and be able to give this information to our clients as and when required,” explains Babu.


This means constantly training thousands of people, which is not only a costly proposition but also challenging considering people keep joining and leaving the organization. Yet, the employees need to learn.


Thus, the idea of managing this through the bot was born. The bot, which is constantly trained by the research team, can answer all the queries of the advisory teams related to risks, laws, etc., helping manage from an overall regulations and norms perspective.


From using the bot internally to provide support to the advisory services team to help support their clients, KPMG team is now going out and selling the bots in the market. This is an example of how a simple concept of a bot first comes in into basic services, expands itself and then eventually goes into client offerings to earn additional revenues for the company.


Another initiative that has traversed a similar journey in the value chain is around analytics. Around two years back, Babu built a CIO dashboard to re-define IT service delivery. The idea was to go deep into the various reasons for issues or tickets and be able to pre-empt some of the issues trough understanding the user behavior and patterns using analytics.


The dashboard provides a single and unified view of various patterns, like which particular time there are more issues, what time in the day maximum tickets are raised, areas where you can potentially have a ticket, areas where you can have a bandwidth issue, areas where people ask for service, which regions have more issues, which engineer is not able to solve the issues, etc.


In fact, it was through the CIO dashboard that Babu was able to identify the need for self-help services, leading to the chatbot initiative.


Armed with these insights, Babu has been successful in bringing down the ‘user to ticket’ ratio for IT services within KPMG from .96 to .52 even as the number of employees have grown. Whereas, the industry average ranges from 1 – 1.2 tickets per user. On the other hand, the customer satisfaction has gone up by 93%.


Having seen its success in IT, the analytical dashboard has been extended to the finance and administration functions and to some extent to HR as well. And, now its being sold in the market as well with two POCs currently underway, informs Babu.


A common thread that runs across these two initiatives of chatbot and analytics is the strong intent that’s driving Babu to rise beyond normal IT and keeping the lights on. “My intent is how do I add more value for the business, how do I get more revenues and save more cost for the firm. As a CIO, once you have fixed managing the shop, the next level is how do you bring in work flows, how do you bring in seamless interactions with your clients, how do you re-engineer the processes that are running in the firm to make sure they become more optimized,” concludes Babu.

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