PODCAST

Episode 26: Problem solving through data strategy

In this episode of Mobility via Podcast, our GMS insight and transformation team lead, Jenn Bianco, sits down with Robert Smith to discuss how data strategy and use of technology can lead to business-driven problem solving for global mobility.

Podcast hosts

Jenn Bianco

Jenn Bianco

Managing Director, Tax, Global Mobility Services, KPMG US

+1 713-319-2000
Robert Smith

Robert Smith

Senior Manager, Tax, Global Mobility Services, KPMG US

+1 408-367-2787

Podcast transcript

Robert: Welcome to our next episode of Mobility via Podcast.  The KPMG Tax Radio Podcast Series covering a range of mobility topics, from remote work to talent management, business strategies, tax matters and mobility technology, just to name a few.  I’m joined today by Jenn Bianco, a managing director in our GMS practice.  An in this episode we will discuss business driven problem solving through data strategy and creative use of technology.  But, before we talk about that, Jenn, you’re new to KPMG.  So tell me a bit about yourself and your background.

Jenn: Yes, I joined KPMG about three months ago to lead our Insights, Automation and Transformation Team.  My career has really been working across all things mobility and tax and HR, and in doing that I really quickly realized that value is key.  So, what is the value that I can bring as someone working within mobility, as a consultant, really, really focusing in on value.

Robert: To get us started with our first question today, I want to go back to the title of this podcast and what we’re discussing.  Business Driven Problem Solving Through Data Strategy and Creative Use of Technology.  So, can you tell me just a more about that and exactly what that means to you? 

Jenn: Yes, I know that’s pretty much a mouthful (Laughter) but if we take a step back from kind of our day to day and our autopilot to just quickly solution and fix the issue, many times all we’re really doing is kind of putting a band aid on a surface issue.  But what we’re looking to do here is more have a partnership relationship with folks to really dig into what their problems are, understand what’s driving that business issue, and then start to think about, you know, is there data that could help us really uncover what’s driving this and help solve it.

Robert:  All right, yes, that makes complete sense.  So, it sounds really more that it’s about the process.

Jenn: Mm-hm.

Robert: But you know, when a lot of people hear the word “insight” or their hear “data” they immediately think about a dashboard.  You know, tell us a little bit more about the strategy piece behind that and why a dashboard is not the end all, be all to those words, “insight” and “analytics.”

Jenn: So true.  Yes.  Everyone is hearing the word “dashboard” and “reporting” and that must be the holy grail of analytics.  And that’s just not the case.  I mean while we all definitely need that in our lives to do our jobs efficiently and effectively, really what we should be thinking about is starting a little bit further back in what a data strategy could do to help you with that.  So that is not about infrastructure.  That’s not about resources and servers. 

What a data strategy is really more centered around is first kind of setting your intention.  So what are kind of the goals and the strategies that your broader business has and how can you use data to help support those goals?  And once you’ve kind of set that intention, and start thinking about if I were to start inching towards making progress there, what outcomes might I see that could show me that I’ve made progress?  Once you’ve looked at your outcomes you don’t want to stop there.  Because many times if we see kind of any trending into something positive, we’ll say “Oh, we’ve met our goal, let’s move on, we’re doing something right.” 

But what we want to think about is kind of opening it up to the broader attributes that you might have associated with some of that progress, or maybe even negative, negative downwards.  So what attributes would you be looking at?  Are there other things outside of kind of the key data outcomes that we’re looking at that could have influenced that progress?  And then once you’ve done that let’s take a minute to reflect and kind of look at the big picture around maybe we’ve made progress but, did that come from a different, unknown attribute, or was it really the changes that we had made that did cause the outcome that we were looking for.

Robert: Excellent.  And knowing you, Jenn, for a bit, I know you’ve spent some time in industry as well.  Can you tell me a little bit about that experience and in those roles how problem solving is really bubbled up to you.

Jenn: Yes. The time in industry was a fantastic learning experience.  Definitely learning to play various roles and wear different hats and adapt to the needs of all of my stakeholders.  Within the companies that I worked for I sat within HR and in tax, so I was working with different personalities, different kind of priorities.  And many times in the beginning I was just being asked question after question, and I would respond, kind of trying to please and just answer those questions, right? 

But then I realized, well if I keep answering these same questions over and over again, number one, there should be a way to automate some of this, but number two, I want to understand why people are asking this.  And maybe when I do start to ask those questions and partner with those stakeholders, they can bring me to the table and I can be a bigger part of kind of the whole global talent deployment discussion.  So in doing that, I started to lean heavily on data, heavily on some of my vendor partners, and really looked to automate and just refresh my outlook versus kind of just always solutioning and putting band aids on the quick problems that I had at bay.

Robert: Mm-hm, yes.  And Jenn, I think that that makes complete sense, and thank you for sharing that.  My last question here today is, let’s just think aspirationally about this.  A lot of people I think do solve just for the “just now” problem.  But for someone who’s starting this journey or is unsure how to begin, what should they do?  Or what questions should they ask? 

Jenn:  So, I think to start on the journey, that foundational data strategy is really key.  That doesn’t mean that you’re putting in place a huge single source of truth and implementing all these systems and frankly having to increase your budgets there.  That just simply means understanding what you have, maybe reflecting and assessing if it’s correct, if you might have some issues that you need to solve in terms of accuracy.  And then finding a way to really string that data together to tell a story and make sense.  And once you’ve been able to do that, and really provide more transparency of your mobility and HR data to leaders, to brothers, stakeholders around the organization, that’s when you can start to get buy-in and support to really think more aspirationally.  Being more data driven and automated in your global talent deployment selection, giving business leaders real time information and tools to do that, and giving the employees and other workforce members that might be considering assignments those tools and data points to make informed decisions.

Robert: Awesome.  So, I really like what you said about storytelling, and I think that that’s a great way to think about this, right?  The idea of starting and kind of building a narrative and having that essentially go somewhere.  And so for today, we’re reaching the end of that story.  But I wanted to ask if there are just any last thoughts about this before we wrap up?

Jenn: Absolutely.  I think to your point, this story is just beginning.  We really are just starting to think about data strategy in a different way, and not just reporting and dashboards.  And we want to be understanding what issues are out there that are, you know, everything has changed so much, what are the current really business challenges that people are focusing on, and let’s think about them together. 

Robert: Jenn, once again, thank you for being with us today.  For our audience, tune into future episodes where we’ll continue to address the top of mind issues of interest.  In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you.  If you have thoughts on today’s episode, or ideas for future episodes, please sense us an email at US-taxwatch@KPMG.com.  Thanks again for listening in.