Digital transformation a boost for business

28/03/2020 - 14:35

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As technological advancements continue to accelerate at pace, businesses are faced with the reality of constant innovation and transformation, but what does that actually look like?

V:INSPIRE: Dan Hookham addresses the event

As technological advancements continue to accelerate at pace, businesses are faced with the reality of constant innovation and transformation, but what does that actually look like?

WITHIN 50 years the world has evolved from celebrating the wonders of the first home Microsoft PC to embracing the idea of working collaboratively in the cloud from anywhere in the world.

Digital transformation has touched everyone’s day-to-day lives - it’s as simple as using the internet to pay your bills or doing your grocery shop via the autonomous checkout.

And while it’s easy to see how technology has transformed almost every industry, there’s been less of a focus on managing and implementing that change process within companies.

The V:Inspire series, run by Velrada, which is a contemporary technology partner that brings true business context to the Microsoft stack, was a half-day event focused on how technology and innovation can fundamentally improve business performance.

The Perth event was recently hosted by Business News at the Hyatt Regency where keynote speaker and leadership advisor Dr Jason Fox outlined the need for ongoing digital transformation.

“All organisations start at this nascent startup phase where ‘new thinking’ is the most valuable commodity. If this new thinking meets a need in the world, one can expect things to grow,” Dr Fox told Business News guests.

“An interesting thing happens between growth and maturity - curiosity begins to die because at this point in time you have a raft of evidence that suggests what you’re currently doing is working, so why do anything differently?

“It becomes inefficient for you to do anything but the default. We become embroiled in the insular and that ultimately sends us in decline into the ‘kraken of doom’, which feeds upon the sweet nectar of your impending irrelevance.”

Dr Fox said the biggest undoing of business was often the inability to contemplate new or better ways of doing things differently.

Velrada’s chief innovation officer Dan Hookham, who also spoke at the V:Inspire series, said this inability was the result of organisations not understanding the value of digital transformation.

Whether it’s increased capabilities in the public cloud, software applications or artificial intelligence, Mr Hookham said businesses’ ways of working would undeniably change. 

“We’ll be able to achieve astronomically more in an hour than we do now in a day,” Mr Hookham said. 

“How close is your organisation now to supporting that? How many of you have a plan that’s going to get you there?

“Digital transformation is what allows you to keep up and is your execution arm.”

Transformation starts with people

Mr Hookham said barriers to installing new technologies across industries were increasingly falling: the cost to process genomes decreased from $10 million in 2010 to under $10,000 in 2017 as a result of big data tooling enabling many comuters to be used as one.

“We know we can establish an AI-driven next best action for sales, use IoT to provide context to machines and business processes, and help staff learn on the job with mixed reality,” he said.

“So why isn’t everyone doing it?” Mr Hookham said the biggest challenge was people. 

“Innovation is a process, a culture and a shared belief. If you think you can get your whole organisation to all move in the same direction in a matter of days, think again,” he said.

Mr Hookham said businesses needed to consider innovation as the process of identifying, prioritising and valuing ideas as a means of assessing organisational desire to take on risk.

Businesses could have all the right tools and technologies to boost performance, he said, but if employees weren’t ready to embrace that then nothing would really change.

“Technology opens our eyes to what is possible, but this means very little until mindsets change,” he said.

“It’s not that people don’t want to change - change requires discomfort and inherently people aren’t good with discomfort.

“It also depends on where you are in your own life, your career and everything else as to whether you’re willing to adapt to change.”

Mindset, innovation creates competitive advantage

Mr Hookham said creating an implementation framework that integrated people’s motivations was the first step to facilitating change.

“Innovation is where you gain your competitive advantage,” he said.

“For those of you who say you don’t need to compete, in the future top talent with the right skills will be scarce.

Competing for those people will be everybody’s challenge.

“You can have technology-driven innovation, you can have-mindset driven innovation but nobody experiences radical innovation until they can combine the two.”

Mr Hookham said Velrada had recently worked with a city council to implement a digital customer relationship management system to assist in dealing with the 80,000 requests the council would receive each year. 

The new platform was deployed along- side an educational campaign, enabling city residents to register issues, such as waste-related requests, via a digital portal that was then sent directly to the waste contractor’s system, rather than traditionally phoning the council directly.

“We’re starting to see more organisations gain significant benefits from either technology they’ve been waiting for or just a straight mindset change to constantly trying to do things better and differently,” Mr Hookham said.

“The big jump comes when the two are combined and mindsets shift to look for how new innovations can improve, change and disrupt their business and the industry on a constant basis.”

WA businesses embrace change

During V:Inspire, several Western Australian businesses joined a panel discussion to share their own experiences with digital transformation.

Western Power executive manager change and innovation Fiona Bishop said the increase in popularity of solar panels was one form of digital transformation the organisation was currently managing.

“For Western Power, we’ve been the custodians of assets for 100 years,” Ms Bishop said.

“How do you start to change that mindset? We now want to work with standalone power systems, batteries and other tech... and so the whole mindset of how you plan, operate and manage that has to fundamentally shift.”

Ms Bishop said Western Power had created an innovation space called The Hive, to help bring staff along that transformation journey.

HBF chief digital and transformation officer Prasad Arav said he had adopted a similar approach with the organisation’s Technology Transformation Program.

“It’s about how we create the conditions for success... having a clear vision of the end game, of what’s going to be different for the staff and members,” he said.

Microsoft executive director Andy Wood told panelists it wasn’t about keeping pace with technology, but trying to keep pace with the changing impact.

“If we adopt these technologies what’s the impact? How will it change business to its core? If you don’t consider all of that with empathy... that’s where digital transformation projects live or die,” he said.

Making digital transformation work for you

For Velrada, Mr Hookham said the company encouraged clients to view digital transformation as a cultural shift. 

“Inspiring and engaging creativity in your business knocks down barriers, changes mindsets and allows teams to embrace technology as a way of dynamically changing their business,” he said.

“Look around you - at your team, your board. Do they want to change? What level of change are they ready for?”

Mr Hookham said digital transformation was an ongoing process and that it could be as simple as conducting an organisational review or refresh. 

“If you’ve tried yourself and need some external help to fill the gaps to get you singing again, then get some help,” he said.

Velrada can help provide a framework, and that for me is how innovation and transformation sit together. “Because progress is impossible without change.”

Seeking ways to use technology to improve your business performance? For more information call 1300 835 723 or visit www.velrada.com

 

 

 

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