The optimism about digital transformation and economic growth comes from research — Unlocking the Economic Impact of Digital Transformation in Asia Pacific — undertaken by Microsoft in partnership with IDC Asia/Pacific with 1560 global business decision makers, including 100 in Australia.
But, while the report was optimistic about digital and benefits to the economy, the two companies cited a lack of skills and resources plus siloed organisations and cultures which are resistant to change as some of the challenges facing organisations as they transform.
The report cites potential benefits of digital transformation as including improvements in profit margin and productivity, as well as cost reduction and increased revenue from new products and services.
“At the same time, organisations are increasingly deploying emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence as part of their digital transformation initiatives, which will accelerate growth even further.
“However, it’s important to note, transformation is about people as much as it is about technology. The top two barriers to digital transformation cited in the study are strongly anchored in an organisation’s ability to empower their people and transform their organisations to take advantage of the opportunity that digital transformation represents,” Worrall cautioned.
He says the study echoes comments made by the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia last week who said that Australia’s future economy is likely to be built through investment in information technology and the skills in our labour force, rather than the natural resources which have been the backbone of the Australian economy for many years.
According to the Australian business leaders surveyed, one of the societal benefits of digital transformation will be the creation of higher value jobs.
Respondents in Australia say they believe that 83% of jobs will be transformed in the next three years due to digital transformation, with 54% redeployed to higher value roles or reskilled to meet the needs of the digital age.
“The rise of digital transformation will no doubt affect the labour market where many jobs will evolve and change. While it’s encouraging to see that 66% of respondents are confident young professionals already have future-ready skills that will help them transition to new roles, organisations must focus on reskilling and upskilling those already in workforce who may not have the required skillset for the changing economy,” Worrall said.
Earlier this year, Microsoft launched its National Skills Programme which focuses on helping people already in the workforce and disadvantaged groups most in danger of falling behind as the economy becomes increasingly technology-driven.
“Equipping the nation to succeed in the digital age – and ensuring all Australians benefit from it – must be a national priority if Australia is to remain competitive and maintain its record-breaking 26 years of economic growth,” Worrall said.
“Employers across all industries need to commit to helping workers prepare for the digital age. It is going to take a collective effort to ensure that no Australians get left behind and we each need to play our part in shaping and building Australia’s future-ready workforce.”