COVID-19 and the future of disruptive technologies

As COVID-19 creates a new reality, 59% of global technology company leaders believe their business model will significantly or entirely change over the next three years. This is according to respondents to the KPMG 2020 Technology Industry Innovation survey. At the same time, they are optimistic about leveraging innovative technologies in this effort, with 77% saying their organizations are very or extremely effective in implementing innovative technologies to achieve their goals. 

While there are many technologies with the potential to transform the enterprise, KPMG has identified several, and perhaps less heralded, ones such as digital assistants, biometrics, and virtual reality. The infographics that follow discuss use cases, investment levels and time horizons, and benefits and challenges in adopting these technologies.

Digital assistants

Digital assistants, the most advanced of which combine artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and machine learning, are poised to play an integral role. Technology company leaders ranked them on par with Internet of Things, blockchain, and robotics, and higher than 5G and edge computing in terms of technologies they expect to be using to transform their business three years from now.

In the new reality being created by COVID-19, companies may use digital assistants to accomplish the following:

  • Deliver a quickly scalable, differentiated customer experience
  • Reduce human error and increase efficiencies (one example: processing expense reports faster and more accurately)
  • Allow employees to focus on more strategic and innovative work by freeing them from mundane tasks

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Time horizon for digital assistants to have significant return on investment


Technology company leaders are becoming more optimistic about biometrics and ranked it on par with 5G, robotics, and blockchain, and higher than virtual reality and edge computing in terms of technologies they expect to be using to transform their business three years from now.

Biometrics are defined as a person’s unique, measurable physical characteristics like fingerprints, facial structure, and retinal map that can be used for automated identification, access control, and facility/system security. However, companies should recognize that there will almost certainly be new data privacy and usage issues that arise whenever new personally identifiable information is utilized.

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Change in investment in biometrics compared to last year

Virtual reality

COVID-19 has ushered in the era of remote work and customer interaction. Attention is turning once again to virtual reality in the quest to make these interactions more personal and immersive. Enterprise use cases include:

  • Providing training in an immersive fashion while also reducing travel and practicing social distancing
  • Increasing customer engagement, especially for high-end retail purchases and real estate
  • Delivering innovative media, sports, gaming, and product demonstration experiences
  • Creating virtual offices to increase employee involvement and productivity during meetings and reduce feelings of isolation

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Biggest challenge in adopting virtual reality

Lack of employee/cultural support


Unproven business case


Regulatory compliance


Regulatory compliance


Lack of capital/resources due to competing priorities


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