Transformation, social and big, fat profits

Published on the 16/11/2017 | Written by Jonathan Cotton

Microsoft Summit_transformation

Microsoft rouses the troops, pointing to potential for the AU economy, public sector disruption and huge opportunities available to partners…

Local Microsoft head Steven Worrall launched Microsoft’s Sydney Summit on Monday with a call to arms for the country’s ‘tech leaders’, saying that the coming digital transformation of Australia is theirs to lose.

“While Australia has enjoyed 26 years of growth – it has now slipped to 21st in the world competitiveness rankings and ranks 27th in terms of business efficiency,” he said.

“At the same time the Productivity Commission has warned that sectoral transformation and innovation means that without careful corporate stewardship, existing workers may find their skills displaced and themselves vulnerable to unemployment”.

Worrall said that digital innovation could be worth up to $250 billion to the Australian economy over the next eight years, ours for the taking if the country’s “digital leadership” is up to the challenge.

“There is a real opportunity here for enterprise leaders to accelerate digital transformation by leveraging rich technology ecosystems and upskilling staff to meet changing customer and society expectations,” he said.

Worrall said that to innovate at the speed and scale required, success won’t be determined by technology itself, but by “the ability of companies to adapt both their leadership and their organisations for the digital era”.

“Cultural transformation is the vital ingredient to any successful digital transformation,” he said.

Toni Townes-Whitley, Microsoft’s global head of industry, stayed on a similar message, but pointed out that leaders across both public sector organisations and commercial enterprises have a responsibility to ensure their business success has a positive social impact.

“Global companies like Microsoft need to think of the broader societal implications and transform responsibly,” she said.

“Where do we stand on privacy? Are we ensuring that our technology is accessible? On artificial intelligence, are we building responsible algorithms?”

Microsoft also used the Summit to release research it commissioned from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, entitled Competing in 2020: Winners and Losers in the Digital Economy.

While not much beyond opinion gathering, the research reinforces what most of us already know – digital disruption is front of mind for, well, everyone: According to the survey, the vast majority (80 percent) of the 783 survey respondents believe their industry will be disrupted by digital trends. Most of those (84 percent) think their industry has either passed the so-called “inflection point” of disruption or will pass it by 2020 – just three years away.

The Summit will continue for the rest of the week with reservations still open for the technical learning event for IT professionals and developers taking place tomorrow and Friday.

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