Friday, 11 March 2016 00:42

Global tech leaders say OZ businesses struggle to ‘stay relevant in digital era’


Australian businesses are being warned: ‘companies that fail to integrate digital into every aspect of the business will not survive.’

ThoughtWorks is a company founded 20 years ago in Chicago by Roy Singham ‘with the aim of attracting and employing the best knowledge workers in the world.’

Today, the company has 3600 employees across 34 offices in 12 countries, including Australia, and bills itself as ‘a software company and community of passionate, purpose-led individuals that specialize in software consulting, delivery and products.'

The company's blurb states that its thinks 'disruptively to deliver technology to address our clients' toughest challenges, all while seeking to revolutionise the IT industry and create positive social change.'

The blurb ends noting the companys's 'pioneering tools for software teams who aspire to be great,' with its products also helping organisations 'continuously improve and deliver quality software for their most critical needs.'

So, if you were somehow unaware of the comapny, as I was, it's clear ThoughtWorks has been around for quite some time, thinking of and doing some serious stuff.

Thus, it is now no great surprise to discover the company had a ‘ThoughtWorks Live’ event in Melbourne yesterday where the topics tackled included ‘the need for Australian business to put digital first, government taking a lesson from digital disruptors and how Target embraced mobile to create an interconnected customer experience.’

The company says that ‘more than 150 business leaders gathered at the ThoughtWorks’ invitation-only executive conference to hear from international leaders.'

The line up included the Federal Government’s Digital Transformation Office (DTO) CEO Paul Shetler, ThoughtWorks’ US founder and chairman Roy Singham, Target’s Peter Mitchley-Hughes and ThoughtWorks chief scientist and co-author of the agile manifesto Martin Fowler.

Quoting Forrester data revealing ‘just 27% of businesses globally have a coherent digital strategy addressing how the company will create customer value as a digital business,’ ThoughtWorks chief scientist, Martin Fowler noted that ‘digital transformation could not succeed without the technical capability to deliver.’

He said: “Most organisations try to prevent failure, rather than invest in ability to recover rapidly. Organisations need to embrace a new way of thinking to thrive in the digital world.”

The Federal Government’s Digital Transformation Office (DTO) CEO Paul Shetler noted that ‘even the Australian government now needed to compete with the Ubers and Googles of the world.’

Shelter said: “The only way we can do that is by taking a user first approach, understanding how they want to interact with the government and not the other way around, by using agile approaches similar to the tech companies in Silicon Valley.”

Drawing on his experience in establishing the UK's Government Digital Service, we are told that ‘Shetler set up the DTO as an incubator where technology companies, including ThoughtWorks, develop user-centred digital services in partnership with government departments. In just 20 weeks, each public service transformation is designed to end with a market-ready product.’

Shetler added: “By default, people don’t want to engage with government agencies. They just want to get stuff done. We want to make sure our service is simple enough so users succeed the first time around without any assistance. And if they can't achieve what they are trying to do first time, we won't go live.”

More below, please read on!

ThoughtWorks Asia Pacific MD Ange Ferguson and ThoughtWorks China MD Hu Kai explored the Chinese opportunity for Australian companies and the pitfalls to avoid.

Ferguson said: “The Chinese market is so large that a segment considered too niche to bother within Australia could have considerable upside in China.

“From varying user behaviours to understanding the country’s internet regulations, making a product ready for the Chinese market goes beyond translating a website. China is a massive opportunity, if you can get it right,” continued Ferguson.

ThoughtWorks Australia MD Ryan Moffat said the day was a chance to learn from ThoughtWorks’ customers and leading international speakers about how to embrace digital transformation.

“Digital for us is business using technology to differentiate and delight their customers. We believe the most important tools today in making technology relevant are experience design and the lean enterprise,” Moffat concluded.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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