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Tuesday, 12 January 2021 11:29

Australian organisations follow innovation, digital transformation path in face of COVID-19 pandemic: claim Featured

Lee Hickin, CTO, Microsoft Australia Lee Hickin, CTO, Microsoft Australia

Many Australian businesses believe COVID-19 has presented them with an opportunity to innovate, according to new research by Microsoft which found that for the majority of organisation surveyed, the pandemic accelerated digital transformation and the digitisation of customer and supply chain interactions.

The Microsoft-IDC study found that 45% of 3,000 business and IT professionals across the Asia-Pacific region surveyed believed they had an opportunity to innovate through digital transformation, while almost 7 in 10 (69%) organisations in Australia are transforming digitally to “adapt to and survive the new reality”.

The findings of the study were based on the survey of 206 business decision makers and 224 workers in Australia within a six-month period, before COVID-19 (Phase 1 Dec 2019-Jan 2020)​ and since COVID-19 (Phase 2 July 2020).

Demonstrating the scale of transformation, 82% of business decision-makers in Australia say that innovation is now a ‘must’ and is vital to their growth, says Microsoft.

According to Microsoft, ongoing digital transformation including launching digital products, introducing digital payments, and embracing ecommerce and automation has meant the proportion of businesses in Australia who are classified as leaders in a culture of innovation increased by 20% (up by 5.4 percentage points) in just six months during the pandemic - and this shows no sign of slowing down, with organisations in Australia focusing on technology (37%) and people (29%), to future-proof in the next 12 months.

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Lee Hickin, Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft Australia, says “32% of organisations in Australia are leaders in a culture of innovation, significantly higher than the Asia-Pacific average of 8% demonstrating a clear focus on innovation amongst Australian organisations. Set to continue into 2021, the trend is being driven by a renewed culture of innovation, the need to embrace opportunity and quickly respond to market challenges which is vital to business growth and resilience.”

Hickin says the ongoing digital transformation and increasing use of data enables Australian organisations to make better informed decisions, develop transformative processes and create new ways of working.

“This ultimately helps to achieve new and better outcomes. The pandemic has accelerated innovation within the majority of businesses as 63% of surveyed Australian organisations are now finding innovation to be easier when compared to the pre-COVID period,” Hickin concluded.

Microsoft says some of the best examples of digital innovation and transformation occurred right on Australia’s doorstep, including:

La Trobe University: Using a HoloLens 2 mixed reality headset, La Trobe University has used CT scans of a coronavirus-infected patient’s lungs to build a virtual 3D model of the infected organs, providing unique insight of the disease which could help with the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19. Following on from the pandemic, in 2021 the university will be offering a new course, a Masters in Digital Media, which will explore issues like UX, interaction design and virtual and mixed reality environments.

City West Water: CWW had begun on a journey to digitally transform and modernise the workplace just in time for COVID-19. Following on from successfully implementing Win10, Office 365, Exchange Online, Teams, OneDrive, Windows Virtual Desktop and SharePoint Online, CWW developed a knowledge management bot, named Aquabot to address one of the most common problems around centralised FAQs to service common business queries and requests.

Rip Curl: Leveraging Power BI, Rip Curl built a cloud-based data warehouse to provide insights which would optimise operations as well as enhancing customer experience. After the pandemic, store managers have been using Power BI to get real-time information to manage shops and inventory. The platform has allowed for the business to develop broader insights which in turn optimised decision making.

University of NSW: Australia’s higher education sector has never faced a more difficult year. In the space of just six months the COVID-19 pandemic forced universities to pivot to a digital learning model with international students offshore and domestic students at home; they are also facing the need for a strategy rethink following the Federal Government’s recently announced funding changes.

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