Steven Worrall (Managing Director at Microsoft Australia) opened the day talking about business transformation because in 2017, Australia slipped four rankings in the World Competitiveness Rankings.
In one year, four other countries overtook Australia and our international competitiveness because of big drops in our rankings for Government Efficiency (14th to 18th) and Business Efficiency (17th to 27th).
So how did this happen?
In Business Efficiency, our lowest rankings ranged from 44-59 and included:
- Entrepreneurship at 59th (our worst ranking across any criteria),
- Agility of companies at 56th, and
- Digital transformation in companies at 47th.
In the World Digital Competitiveness Rankings, IMD ranks the same countries on Knowledge, Technology and Future Readiness. Australia also dropped in this ranking from 14th to 15th because of a major drop in Future Readiness from 7th to 14th which was heavily influenced by a significant drop in Business Agility from 22nd to 42nd.
Simply, Australia is being outpaced in our ability to take advantage of the digital revolution and use it to improve new and existing businesses.
What are other people doing?
At the moment, companies that were born in the cloud are taking a disproportionate share of the market, so how do we improve our ability to transform?
Microsoft emphasised the importance of asking “what is your transformation for?”. Clearly understanding the purpose of the transformation led to:
- Qantas achieving some great results by connecting their employee experience to the customer experience with Office 365 and Power BI, and
- Carlsberg using analytics to define their moment of truth.
How do we learn from this?
Generally, organisations facing large transformation struggle with two main problems:
- How do you start?
- How do you keep going?
Starting is a large mental hurdle, but the right choices early on can help to deliver improved business outcomes and turn your ability to transform and adapt into a continuous advantage.
Brian Cox asked the question “why don’t we feel motion when we aren’t accelerating” – the same question that led to Einstein defining the theory of relativity. This same question can have a big impact on the way we approach business transformation and the results we get from it.
Organisations in the midst of transformation struggle with the feeling of ‘acceleration’. People have extra responsibilities in addition to their normal workloads which leads to impatience, frustration and loss of momentum.
What if transformation wasn’t ‘this year’s focus’, but was instead part of how your business operated? You would never feel like you are actually undergoing change, it would just be the norm. In actual fact, the only time you would notice something different is when you slow down and stop getting results!
So how do you transform without getting ‘acceleration pains’? Why not aim for continuous business improvement rather than completing a specific project! To help you understand how this looks, here is Microsoft’s four steps of digital transformation with a continuous improvement perspective:
- Empowering your employees – allocate a portion of job roles to being involved in transformational projects rather than assigning individuals to a specific project
- Engaging your customers – implement continuous feedback loops rather than ad-hoc surveys like Netflix does to recommend your next favourite show
- Optimising operations – streamline the day-to-day operations so your staff can focus on improving the business rather than processing, and
- Transforming your products – always view your new product or service as unfinished, because it can always get better.
These simple things will embed the desire and ability to transform in the very fibre of your organisation and before one transformational project is completed, you will already be thinking about the next one!
What does the future hold?
With the Microsoft 365 F1 tools, Microsoft are focusing on the >3 million frontline workers in manufacturing, retail, transportation, hospitality, public service and healthcare. Frontline workers often find it hard to manage their workday in an efficient way because they are:
- Disconnected from the team and company
- Often behind on latest training, practices, procedures
- Using outdated and obsolete tools and manual processes
- Slow to receive information, resources and expertise
- Subjected to uneven security practices, policies and governance