Digital transformation became something of a catchcry during the COVID lockdowns as companies raced to equip remote-working staff and enable workflows to continue despite widespread disruption.
Now, as those disruptions subside, many organisations are cranking up the pace of transformation even further. They realise additional bold changes are needed if they are to survive and thrive in uncertain economic conditions.
Innovation remains the key
Innovation remains a key trait of growing companies. They realise constant innovation is integral to the expansion of Australia’s economy, keeping its workforce strong, and addressing societal challenges.
Innovation is also crucial when it comes to competing on the global stage. It helps companies to succeed in high-growth industries, commercialise more high-value products and services, foster talent, and tackle global challenges.
Unfortunately, just at the time when Australia needs to accelerate its innovation performance, the nation remains behind its global peers. This is particularly the case when it comes to business investment in research and development. It’s a situation that needs to be urgently addressed. Australia needs to find new sources of growth and improve productivity to maintain the current standard of living.
The biggest opportunities for this growth will come from knowledge-intensive companies that innovate and export. This is because they are the ones that will be the most profitable, competitive, and productive. Such companies will increasingly need to solve global problems at scale and, when they succeed, they will make a substantial contribution to new jobs growth in Australia. This will come through both direct employment and indirect jobs throughout the economy.
Opportunities come from change
While many of the changes caused by COVID were unwelcome, they also provided an opportunity. Experience has shown that highly disruptive change can be a trigger for people to go deeper, ask themselves what they have learned, and confirm they are on the right path.
There is a concept in digital transformation dubbed ‘dual transformation’. This is the thinking that business executives must reposition their traditional core organisations while also leading a separate and focused team tackling a new challenge.
Technology has an important role to play in this process and will continue to do so in the years ahead. It will allow businesses that spot new opportunities to position themselves to take full advantage of them.
The combination of technologies such as application integrations, robotic process automation (RPA) and automated data flows will revolutionise the economics of scaling and growing a business.
To achieve this goal, it is important for business leaders to closely examine their strategic plans. This should be done by asking two vital questions.
The first question is whether the organisation’s core business should be looked at differently with the benefit of the learnings from the past two years. Managers should examine all fundamental strategic principles and determine whether they have shifted. They need to consider what business model evolution could be employed that would help the business leapfrog its competitors.
The second question is where opportunities for growth exist in adjacent markets. Think about how you would approach making three big bets on new business units, or products and services, and where those bets would be placed. As part of this process, consider how technology could enable step changes in productivity and efficiency that would really transform the business. Think about the staff and how technology can serve to improve their experience and help drive higher levels of satisfaction and engagement.
The answers to such questions will help to clarify goals and lead to the formulation of a robust and ambitious strategy that will support growth in the months and years ahead.
The past two years have seen a lot of change in a very short period of time, but now is not the time to slow down.