Rising demand for digital transformation solutions TEY_post_Rasheed_Al_Qenae

It is evident that companies are trying to expand their horizons, and we are anticipating new focal points to emerge.

Dr. Rasheed AL-QENAE Chairman of the Middle East and South Asia and Caspian Region and Managing Partner of KPMG in Kuwait KPMG

Rising demand for digital transformation solutions

May 22, 2023

Dr. Rasheed Al-Qenae, chairman of the Middle East, South Asia, and Caspian Region for KPMG and managing partner of KPMG in Kuwait, talks to The Energy Year about the demand for digital transformation solutions and the importance of ESG to the company. KPMG Kuwait provides audit, tax and advisory services to a host of clients including family businesses and private and public sector companies.

What is your assessment of the last two years in Kuwait and the impact of digital transformation on them?
The past two years have been challenging. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, a lockdown was imposed and restrictions were put in place. As part of KPMG, we had to abide by the laws like everyone else. We had to work remotely from our homes, and we did that for nearly two years. KPMG had invested heavily in its internal technology and IT infrastructure, and that allowed us to fully work from home within two days. We were efficiently supporting clients and addressing their needs, while not losing focus on the wellbeing of our staff, teams and families.
This was made possible by the sheer commitment of our KPMG family. However, this period caused both public and private organisations to rely greatly on technology to do business. Consequently, they had to deal with heavy online traffic, which led to cybersecurity becoming a top risk, exposing organisations to concerns such as data theft. As a result, they needed to address the issues, and we received a large number of client requests to reinforce their cybersecurity infrastructure.
The pandemic showed us the true power of technology, and how vulnerable one can be without the right tech and information. It also taught us that awareness alone is not enough to flourish in the digital age – one needs to combine it with the right solutions, people and processes.

What are the factors contributing to the surge in technology use and how does it impact business priorities?
During the lockdown, people in and around Kuwait were relying more on data and technology to make informed decisions. However, they also found accessing, storing, protecting and leveraging data challenging. There was a need for awareness on technologies and data protection and, in the first two parts of 2022, we witnessed it grow within our clients too.
Organisations realised that digital and cybersecurity are tied to each other and, hence, strived for standardised operations – those that are safe, convenient, can be updated regularly and are reliable from a security perspective. This caused companies to shift toward new and pre-existing technology solutions, such as the cloud, which were affordable, effective and efficient. However, this did not discount the importance of having adequate cyber safety measures and processes to support the increased technological reliance.
Around the middle of 2022, we saw businesses take digital more seriously and try to set things back in order, which led to multiple mergers, acquisitions and even cutbacks. It is evident that companies are trying to expand their horizons. In view of that, we are anticipating new focal points to emerge, but right now, these are among the main priorities for businesses in Kuwait.


How can KPMG’s Tech Innovator competition contribute toward making Kuwait a better investment destination?
Through the Tech Innovator competition, our goal was to promote small- and medium-scale enterprises in the technology sector. KPMG’s idea was to let participating member firms screen groundbreaking business ideas from early-stage start-ups and choose local winners from them. These winners would then go on to present their ideas and compete on a global stage for the final title.
We recognise that the small- and medium-scale businesses are usually the major operators in very developed and advanced economies. They are niche-based, efficient, cost-effective, sufficiently equipped, have more services and products, and know what they are doing. This gives them a disruption quotient and allows them to support bigger multinational companies. For the same reason, the government is promoting SMEs. This is also one of the factors contributing to the establishment of the Kuwait National Fund, which aims to encourage individuals wanting to become entrepreneurs.
The pandemic motivated more people to come up with new ideas that could revolutionise their sector, and we wanted to give them a platform to pitch those ideas. Out of 30 applications, we finalised 10 contestants. These 10 finalists were later judged on the basis of six parameters by a seasoned panel that was comprised of well-reputed industry leaders. This was the second time KPMG conducted the event, but it was a first for KPMG Kuwait.
The event not only allowed us to gain global recognition for the Kuwait finalist, Bounce, but also made the country itself more prominent on the world map, while making other businesses aware of what we were doing. We wanted to promote early-stage start-ups and innovative technologies, and we are proud of what we have achieved.

How do you see ESG shaping up in KPMG Kuwait and the country?
ESG has been an integral part of KPMG’s strategy. We were focusing on it even before the Covid-19 pandemic began. It is great to see that the world is looking to sustain the environment for future generations. Currently, the world is aggressively pushing toward sustainability and protection of the environment, owing to the drastic climate-related changes. In the COP27 summit, the Kuwait delegation voiced its commitment to environmental reform and becoming carbon neutral in the oil and gas sector by 2050.
Being corporate citizens and leaders, the onus is also on us to preserve the world for future generations. We have had a number of sessions with our clients and groups who want to be more aware and educated about ESG. KPMG is trying to create awareness about its importance and how it can be built through client stories. However, ESG needs to be embedded into the strategy as a medium- to long-term plan across organisations. Considering how essential it is for us to act now, it needs to be implemented swiftly.

What is the importance of the KPMG Impact Plan?
Our people are our assets and, like any organisation, they form the three pillars of our business. They are great in nature and help serve our clients’ needs. However, we are not limiting ourselves to supporting only the people we work with. We are extending it to the areas we operate in as part of our service to the community – for the better. In line with our Impact Plan, we encourage our teams to participate in a minimum of five hours of highly valuable CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities.
In 2022, our colleagues at KPMG Kuwait devoted nearly 240 hours of community service in the areas of environment, education and healthcare. We also raised cyber awareness among kids and were able to educate more than 6,000 children on online etiquette, security and risks, among other aspects. We sincerely believe that if the kids are taught such topics, then they will be less exposed to online threats and more motivated to speak to their parents/guardians on such matters.

What are some of the priorities for KPMG Kuwait?
Our present priorities are digital and technology, but we are also laser-focused on growing in other lines of business. Because of that, we are doing our best to equip our teams with digital awareness at the top of their capabilities. We acknowledge that digital is a great tool, and therefore we are being watchful of all its aspects – in every direction. At the same time, we want to fully utilise it while ensuring that we are cognisant of and unexposed to the associated risks.

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