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Why Australia leads the world on automation and emerging technologies

16 Jan 2018

Article by ServiceNow A/NZ managing director David Oakley.

Technology is changing at a rapid pace and digital transformation is now firmly on the agenda for all businesses. To understand this transformation, ServiceNow recently conducted a global study of 500 CIOs across 11 countries, with some surprising results.

One of the most positive findings was that Australian CIOs are leading the way globally when it comes to the adoption and implementation of technologies including automation and machine learning. For example, 57% of Aussie CIOs rated their organisation’s use of machine learning as mature, the highest in the world and far higher than the global average (38%).

In fact, Australian companies are already making changes to accommodate technology and digital labour, with 65% of CIOs reporting they had made changes to IT structures, 57% had implemented company-wide organisational changes, and nearly half (48%) reported they had developed programs to expand employee skill-sets.

Promisingly, over the next three years, Australian CIOs also reported they are planning to invest the highest levels among global peers in a variety of technologies, including IoT, big data, machine learning and analytics.

As well as this, of the 16 new technologies featured in the research (including machine learning, big data, robotics, analytics, mobile, AI, IoT, AR/VR, drones, and process automation software), Australian companies are investing more than the global average in 11 of the 16 areas.

These findings were echoed in a recent Gartner report, which revealed that 43% of CIOs throughout APAC have deployed or are in short-term planning for deployment of IoT technologies (compared to 37% globally) and 37% for AI (compared to 25% globally).

But what is it about Australian CIO’s that is driving such impressive change? One simple reason is due to necessity, as the sheer volume of data and rising workloads mean that organisations are looking for a way to relieve the burden on employees.

Each week, employees spend around two out of five business days on routine tasks that are not a core part of their jobs. In fact, as much time is wasted on the manual completion of unnecessary ‘busy work’ – email, spreadsheets, personal visits – as is spent on doing work central to their jobs.

Another key reason is the unique economic, geographic, and cultural position of Australia. With a thriving, advanced economy, coupled with a relatively small population in a continent sized-landmass, there’s increased appetite to try new technologies as a way to achieve efficiencies and compete on a global scale.

This can be seen in sectors as varied as natural resources, finance, the public sector, and agriculture. The size and scale of Australian organisations are also more suitable to embracing the ‘fail fast’ mentality, as well as approaches like starting small and experimenting.

This has created some challenges as well as benefits. As trail-blazers, Aussie CIOs are more aware of the practical challenges that must be overcome when implementing new technologies, compared to global peers.

On several measures assessing the challenges of technology adoption, Australian CIOs ranked highest in the world. For example, 80% of CIO’s in Australia cite insufficient data quality as a substantial barrier to the adoption and maturation of machine learning in their business, with 78% identifying outdated processes as a key factor hindering the success of new technology.

Despite the challenges, the future looks bright for Australia and its workers. Automation and other technologies have the ability to transform society for the better. Technology will revolutionise the way business and everyday tasks are done, saving time, money and delivering game-changing economics.

Productivity will increase, which is essential for future growth and prosperity. By continuing to embrace technology, Australian businesses will ensure they can succeed for many years to come.

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