“Test and learn” key for digital transformation in Australia

Elizabeth Barry 24 November 2016

digital tranformation meeting

Report from Microsoft looks at the opinions of leaders from 30 organisations.

Australian organisations that adopted a "test and learn" approach as opposed to a full company overhaul are primed for greater success when it comes to digital transformation, according to a new report from Microsoft.

The report, which is based on detailed qualitative interviews from 30 senior leaders of business and government organisations, found that smaller shifts towards digital transformation encouraged buy-in from the rest of the business and reflected the pace of change in digital technologies.

Microsoft Australia managing director Pip Marlow said successful organisations empowered their people to innovate and fully explore new technologies.

“The most digitally advanced organisations had several common elements but the role of people, in terms of leadership, culture and ambition, was the most pervasive," she said.

The interviews, which included senior leaders from Aussie, KPMG and Cricket Australia, revealed that successful organisations fell into two groups, the "proactive" and the "embracing". "Motivated but constrained" organisations' efforts at digital transformation were often hampered by internal obstacles.

These obstacles include availability to talent, culture and mindset, leadership and clarity of vision. Company mindset ranked highly on this list of barriers, with availability of talent being listed as the number one constraint. An example of culture and mindset difficulties include one organisation's transformation efforts referred to internally as "cowboyism", which another respondent said employees equated digital transformation with job obsolescence.

"“The ability to create a sense of urgency is very difficult because people see transformation and the next word that flashes in their mind is threat,” the respondent said.

While this is still an issue, the report, Embracing digital transformation: Experiences from Australian organisations, did reveal a shift in organisational thinking. Digital transformation wasn't the top of the agenda a few years ago but it has become more of a priority due to various industries being disrupted by new technologies and companies.

According to Marlow, transformation is underpinned by a digital mindset which is a "unique interplay of technology, people and process".

“Organisations expect digital technology to keep evolving rapidly, but they are also optimistic that it will create huge opportunities,” Mshe said. “There’s no doubt that harnessing the right technology can dramatically improve customer and staff experiences and lift productivity. It can even take organisations into whole new areas of business or allow new ones to emerge.”

Read the full report here.

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