Accounting giant KPMG plans to invest $2 billion in Microsoft cloud and artificial intelligence services over the next five years as part of an expanded partnership, the two companies said in a joint announcement.
The effort is expected to impact KPMG’s global workforce of 265,000 employees and all of its core business areas — audit, tax and advisory. It includes the infusion of data analytics capabilities supplied by Microsoft into the audit process through KPMG’s smart audit platform, known as KPMG Clara, according to a Tuesday press release. This will empower 85,000 audit professionals who collectively work on hundreds of thousands of audits a year to focus more closely on “higher-risk areas,” it said.
“We’ve been playing in the AI space for a while, but this is going to take it all to a whole new level,” Lou Trebino, KPMG’s audit chief technology officer, said in an interview.
The deepened alliance comes as business leaders across a variety of sectors are rushing to explore potential use cases for generative AI, which refers to tools capable of producing new content, such as text or images, based on what they’ve learned.
“We have a real opportunity to apply this next generation of AI to help transform every industry, including professional services,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in the joint release.
AI has come under the public spotlight during the past several months following the launch of ChatGPT, a popular generative AI tool created by Microsoft backed-Open AI. Critics worry about risks associated with the technology, including the possibility that it could displace some jobs.
Besides KPMG, other major players in the professional services sector are betting on AI as well.
Accenture said last month that it was investing $3 billion over three years in its Data & AI practice “to help clients across all industries rapidly and responsibly advance and use AI to achieve greater growth, efficiency and resilience.” Meanwhile, PwC announced in April that it was investing $1 billion over the next three years in a generative AI initiative.
KPMG’s $2 billion investment builds on the firm’s announcement in May that it agreed to partner with Microsoft on an “AI Innovation Initiative” aimed at embedding Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service across nearly all dimensions of KPMG’s U.S. business.
In a press release at the time, KPMG said the alliance would enable it to layer Microsoft’s “state-of-the-art machine learning models, natural language processing capabilities and enhanced analytics onto firm data sets and solutions within its secure cloud environment, protecting client and firm data.”
The expanded partnership announced Tuesday could help unlock potential incremental growth opportunity for KPMG of over $12 billion, according to the latest release.
Besides an enhanced smart audit platform, the package includes access to a generative-AI powered “virtual assistant” that can help tax professionals to work more efficiently, it said. The tool can enable professionals to quickly comb through and analyze large amounts of financial data, creating tremendous time savings, according to Brad Brown, global head of tax technology and innovation at KPMG.
“In essence, you’re getting a new team member,” he told CFO Dive. “It’s a virtual team member that’s helping to make things easier and faster.”