Published on the 06/11/2017 | Written by Donovan Jackson
Empired conference demonstrates leading local and international digital strategy success…
Opening its final Convergence 2017 conference which took place in Auckland last week, Empired COO Simon Bright asked, “Why are we talking about digital transformation?”
Empired itself has undergone a transformation in the way that it demonstrates the difference that technology can make. Instead of a focus on the technology itself, the major theme was the sharing of customer success stories showing how they have leveraged digital technology to transform business. The Convergence conference was a series of eight events across Australia and New Zealand, visiting Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne before crossing the ditch finishing with the Auckland event Friday 3 November.
Answering his question, Bright explained: “We’re seeing the biggest change since the industrial revolution and there is more to come. The change curve will not slow down, so we need to assess the impact on our businesses. With everything moving so fast, we must move faster.”
Bright said that meant faster time to value, identifying and deploying solutions and services which enable more efficient work and the application of agile ways which enable organisations to rapidly adapt to unpredictably changing circumstances.
“The finish line isn’t where you think it will be – it keeps changing, demanding that you take an inward look at your purpose. You need to stay relevant and have agility. And at Empired, we frame that as tomorrow’s advantage, delivered today.”
Auckland delegates heard from a diverse set of business leaders, including JUCY’s Tristin King and Public Trust CEO Bob Smith. Said Bright: “The focus is to understand views from clients who have been through a journey and made significant changes to their businesses using digital technology – and use those experiences as a source of inspiration.”
Smith from Public Trust, New Zealand’s largest trustee services business, said the company’s digital transformation has led to a fundamental realignment with its customers. “We realised that we are a service business, not a financial business. We were once organised around products, but now we are organised around customers. We’ve turned it around from fat servers and thin customer service, and gone back to customer centricity.”
The refocusing of Public Trust’s NZ$60m business using Microsoft technology has delivered substantial benefit. It has, said Smith, taken out $9 million in ‘bad cost’. It has returned to revenue growth, with 14 percent anticipated for this year. Digital technology, Smith said, has played a fundamental role in enabling customer intimacy for a company which is ‘very much in the relationships business’. “Our top priority is operational excellence and product innovation. Mine isn’t a technology presentation, but technology is pervasive through what we are doing.”
The stories of Public Trust, JUCY and many others reflect ‘Convergence’, Bright added, because digital transformation is a combination of multiple components seamlessly across an organisation’s digital realm. “The conversations we have today are very different. It is not about product, but about change and outcomes and how technology supports that.”
John Bessey, Empired GM of sales and marketing, said ‘digital masters’ are taking advantage of intelligent cloud and edge technologies are more profitable and will continue to win in the new era of business. “Take Burberry, the coat manufacturer. It made a strategic decision to focus on millennials, which had nothing to do with technology. That lead it down a digital transformation path as it needed to address millennials appropriately – and now, 60 percent of its products aren’t sold in the stores for which it is famous.”
Bessey then pointed to Chilean copper miner Codelco which has opted for an operational change to improve safety. This decision has, again, driven a digital change, with ‘driven’ the key word: it has introduced autonomous trucks, digitally managed and controlled. “It realised technology is crucial to improve safety and operations, so it has invested in a digital operations centre. It starts with automated trucks, but how it builds its operations has changed. Soon there will be nobody in the mine, so safety will no longer be as important. That changes where it can mine and where it can compete.”
He said the point at which any company starts with digital transformation therefore varies. “It can be strategic, like Burberry. It can be operational, like Codelco. But it must happen.”
And Bessey cautioned against falling into complacency: “There is a ‘say/do’ gap, where executives realise the need for change, but aren’t actually doing it.”