Wednesday, 03 June 2015 17:35

The digital-era challenges Australian businesses Featured

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Australian organisations are more and more embracing technology as they transform themselves into digital businesses, with many now sharing information across the rapidly expanding digital ecosystem that they once held close to their chest.

According to a new market report, however, despite the progress, Australian businesses and organisations still lag behind their counterparts in other countries in transforming themselves into digital businesses.

The 2015 Technology Vision report by Accenture says that if Australian organisations are to grow and innovate at pace with their global peers, they must “act quickly, stretching their digital boundaries by forging new connections and embracing emerging technologies that enable them to compete in the growing digital ecosystem”.

While acknowledging that many Australian organisations have already embraced social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) to transform themselves into digital businesses, Accenture says that these enterprises now need to consider how they can take their new digital capabilities to the next level.

“Last year at Accenture, we began to see the industry leaders embrace this transformation and begin to reimagine their businesses for the digital era.

“The Accenture Technology Vision 2014 declared that ‘Big is the Next Big Thing’. We saw that the next logical step for large and often long-established companies was to start using technology not just as a way to improve their own internal processes, but also as a driving force for how they grow.

“In Australia, we identified that larger and more established organisations that embraced digital could take advantage of their size, skills and scale to pose a real threat to their smaller competitors. We predicted that these new ‘digerati’, with their deep resources, huge scale and process discipline, were about to rewrite much of the digital playbook.

“Today, we see pioneering enterprises, both locally and globally, beginning to do just that. But many are doing far more than just flexing their digital muscles – they are fundamentally changing the way they look at themselves and quickly mastering the shift from ‘me’ to ‘we’.”

According to Accenture, these ‘pioneering’ enterprises are now stretching their boundaries by tapping into a “broad array of other digital businesses, digital customers and even digital objects at the edges of their networks”.

The report also says that leaders who are eager to drive change are using this broader digital ecosystem to “place bets on a grand scale”- “looking to shape entire markets and change the way we work and live”.

Accenture observes in its report that the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming a force that is driving new innovation and new opportunities by bringing “every object, consumer, and activity into the digital realm”.

At the same time, says Accenture, leading businesses are making similar changes within their enterprises by digitising every employee, process, product, and service.

“Taken in aggregate, enterprises find themselves connected to a digital fabric that has the potential to touch all aspects of their business, their customer relationships and the world around them. Already, this fabric has provided enterprises with an ability to connect and scale up in unprecedented ways.”

Accenture also makes the point that companies routinely deal with hundreds of business processes, thousands of employees and millions of consumers, and that many large companies are at a scale where they “touch billions of lives”.

“However, more and more companies are beginning to see that these connections are not limited to just their employees and customers.”

According to Accenture, Australian companies have the opportunity to tie themselves into a global network of businesses, individuals and objects from every industry around the world and, it says, this “grand network” of connections and its transformational power introduce a new era in the digital age – the age of ‘digital ecosystems’.

Accenture’s report also found that the rise of intelligent machines in the workplace is forcing Australian businesses to rethink how machines and humans can do more together.

Almost 80% of Australian organisations surveyed believe companies will need to train machines as much as they do people within three years and many are already embracing the “blended workforce”, with more than 21% of businesses and IT executives using or intending to use intelligent technologies including robots and sensors.

The survey reveals that intelligent enterprises are also embedding software intelligence into every aspect of the business, with 89% of Australian respondents believing software intelligence will be critical to maintaining relevance and streamlining IT.

Accenture warns that to remain competitive, Australian organisations need to pursue opportunities and stretch their digital boundaries by creating new connections within the digital ecosystem, both locally and globally.

And, on a note of caution, Accenture concludes: “Those that fail to bridge these divides risk being left behind in the constantly evolving ‘We Economy’”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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