The future of frontline operations

Leading the way to safe, resilient and transparent frontline operations.

The future of frontline operations

Frontline operators - be they emergency services first responders, utility infrastructure maintenance crews or frontline mining or drilling specialists - are highly skilled staff who conduct complex on-site maintenance or service operations that cannot be performed remotely. Today more than ever, frontline operators are being challenged by raised community expectations, more frequent climatic events such as storms, flooding or bushfires, and the need to maintain safety and regulatory standards while performing the work with utmost efficiency.  Society is reliant on the resilience of frontline operators to respond first in the face of adversity and to restore essential services safely and effectively.

What does the future of frontline operations look like?

In the KPMG Global CEO Outlook Report, 84 percent of Australian CEOs say are accelerating the digitisation of their operations and creating next-generation operating models. Looking forward, building capabilities to drive safety, resilience, optimisation, and transparency will be fundamental to achieving longer-term sustainable growth of their organisation.

Digitally equipping their frontline operations is an integral part of this process. 

When considering the future strategy for transforming the frontline operator function, we see four plausible scenarios: organisations may opt to transform, stabilise, optimise or grow their frontline operations. 

To understand and explore the future of frontline operations, KPMG Australia has developed, challenged and refined 10 key hypotheses about how expectations and capabilities will develop over the next five to 10 years. These hypotheses include bold views on why there is a need to change, what new operating models and digital roles will be required, and how new technologies will impact and enable frontline operators.

The details of our hypotheses are available in our downloadable report, The Future of the Frontline Operator.

What should we focus on when developing frontline operations strategy?

Investing in the right strategy which considers balanced outcomes across four core areas of safeoptimisedresilient and transparent operations will allow operational divisions to effectively plan for and execute work in their evolving operating environment.

Transparent operations are key:

  • By developing your capabilities to allow for safe, optimised and resilient operations, you are one step closer to achieving transparent operations.
  • Safe Operations
  • Optimised Operations
  • Resilient Operations

What should we consider when planning for frontline operations future?

Leaders can navigate the changing landscape by basing their planning on these two main considerations:

Embedding new ways of thinking to unlock new levels of operational performance and reliability.

  • Developing operational readiness to face unexpected situations will require the introduction of high reliability operating principles throughout the organisation
  • Designing processes, training, equipment and systems to reduce error while increasing safety and productivity requires consideration of human factors - such as the relationship between the nature of the task, the frontline operator's characteristics, and organisational work patterns to the forefront
  • Creating a safety culture involving all five key cultural elements (Learning, Informed, Just, Flexible and Reporting) will require establishing the correct leadership, values and behaviours

Enabling new ways of working through increased visibility, insights and control of your operations with technology solutions.

  • New smart tooling and next generation telecommunications will enable increased frontline operator productivity and safety, and will require rethinking existing operating models and the introduction of new digital roles and responsibilities
  • Smart assets and plants will increasingly enable changes to service models, and will require careful consideration of how legacy assets are managed and supported alongside digitally connected and controllable assets

How will KPMG help organisations achieve future-ready frontline operations?

KPMG's Frontline Operator Capability Framework can help organisations achieve a balanced outcome across the following four core areas:

  • Safe operations based on knowledge and access to best-in-class operational safety management processes and systems that achieve optimised and resilient operations
  • Optimised operations that leverages proprietary operational excellence frameworks that have successfully enabled organisations to achieve operational standardisation, effective risk management, and nurture cultures of learning and continuous improvement
  • Resilient operations by adapting and implementing industry-leading operating model blueprints that enhance operational resilience and responsiveness to unplanned disruptions and better than predicted business value
  • Transparent operations - that draws on deep knowledge and insights of processes and technologies required to achieve operational control, transparency and access to the right information at the right time.

Download the framework The Future of Frontline Operations >


KPMG is a professional services firm with global reach, and deep expertise in audit, tax and advisory.



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