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Microsoft: how Aussie businesses can thrive in the digital economy

Microsoft has urged Australian businesses that they must take a leadership position within the digital economy if they are to compete in an increasingly digital orientated business sphere.

With digital innovation tipped to be worth up to $250 billion to the Australian economy over the next eight years, the tech giant outlined the opportunity for local organisations while cautioning that strong leadership was required if all Australians are to benefit from the digital era.

The comments were made during a preview of Microsoft’s flagship customer and partner event, Microsoft Summit, which takes place in Sydney this week from 14 – 17 November.

The incoming challenge

Steven Worrall, Microsoft Australia managing director said that Australia has reached an important inflexion point and needs digital leadership for the nation to continue its strong economic track record.

“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.”

However, Worrall also pointed to the Commission’s acknowledgement that the “critical x-factor” in strong long-run economic growth comes from the application of new knowledge and technologies.

“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.

“However, to innovate at the speed and scale that is required, the key determinant of success won’t be technology but 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.

Transforming responsibly

Toni Townes-Whitley, Microsoft global head of industry also commented on the opportunity for innovation within local markets.

“Australian business leaders have the opportunity to embrace the transformative power of the cloud to accelerate business innovation and create experiences that consistently exceed customer expectations,” she said.

She stressed that digital leadership is required to ensure that all Australian citizens and businesses are empowered with technology solutions that are trusted, innovative and inclusive.

“Digital leadership goes beyond building innovative solutions and robust technology platforms to transform industries and public sector organisations, 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?”

Strategies for success.

Microsoft has also shared what it believes to be common strategies that can be generally applicable to most enterprises if they wish to thrive in the digital economy.

  1. Begin with the end in mind: with a clear vision of where you want to go, you can create a compelling plan for change for your organisation.

  2. Going digital has to start at the top: Grassroots efforts and skunkworks projects are great, but the company has to know digital is a priority for senior leadership. The modern CIO partners closely with business leaders.

  3. Data matters most: Intelligent action is critical to the digital business – but the system can only be as intelligent as the data available. Get the data foundations right.

  4. Create a digital culture: Change can be daunting, especially for large, established companies. Foster a growth mindset, give employees the right tools to collaborate and unlock creativity.

  5. Start now or risk getting left behind: We are in an era when first to market matters more than ever. Identify where you can begin quickly and grow digital capabilities from there, potentially building on existing systems or infrastructure.

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