New Zealand businesses need to up their digital game in the face of the very real threat of disruption.
That was the major learning from a recent Microsoft Asia-commissioned study which revealed that just one-third of surveyed New Zealand businesses have a strategy in place to manage digital transformation.
The Digital Transformation research also revealed that less than half of all NZ respondents are in progress with specific initiatives for selected parts of their companies.
And an alarming 17% said they have very little or no strategy at all.
Microsoft New Zealand cloud and enterprise lead Dirk Develter said the results from the 100 participating NZ companies were “lower than where I would expect.”
“To have no strategy in place is a little alarming. You have to at least understand the need. If you have reviewed the opportunities for your organisation to transform digitally and assessed there is very little opportunity, you have at least done something.”
The low results came despite three-quarters of respondents agreeing that they need to transform to a digital business to enable future growth and, more specifically, that new data insights can lead to new revenue streams for their organisations.
If your business falls within that worrying 17% of firms with no strategy to speak of, then what is the first step you should take?
Develter advised that you have to get sponsorship for digital transformation within your company.
“One of the first things you need to do is appoint an owner. Who is going to manage digital transformation for our organisation, who is our spokesperson, our go-to, our thought leader?”
“It could be someone internal, it could be a virtual employee, or a consultant or trusted adviser but you’ve got to take this step and start the process.”
Interestingly one of the top three barriers to digital transformation identified by the survey was the lack of a technology leader who is also business savvy.
This was unexpected by Develter who pointed to a change in reporting lines and roles as illustrative of an evolution in NZ technology leaders.
“A surprising number of Chief Information Officers used to report to Chief Executive Officers through Chief Financial Officers but increasingly now report directly to CEO’s. You have also seen some organisations transforming the CIO role into a Chief Digital Officer to reflect a change in focus.”
He added: “Digital transformation is an organisation wide shift. It is incredibly easy now for anyone with a budget to sign up for a new service or system that supports a digital transformation. IT’s involvement in that may be in depth or non-existent.”
Once you have your key sponsor in place, it is about considering your company vision, what can be put in place to achieve that vision and how you are going to measure progress and success.
Develter added that formulating your approach will involve learning by experience because “you don’t pluck a digital strategy out of thin air – it is still a strategy, “.
Even those businesses with a plan in place or underway cannot rest on their laurels – especially those in spaces ripe for digital disruption like power or utility companies.
“Your vision may change over time and your strategy has to evolve as the pace of change is simply frightening. I’m baked into this world and I still have trouble keeping up.”
This, he stresses, is where having that ‘owner’ again comes into play. The lead has to be constantly reassessing the strategy, seeing what the opportunities are, keeping tabs on the competition and exploring trends overseas for example.
Whether you have a strategy in place, in train or in mind the message is clear: you need to act and you need to act now.
To view the key findings of the New Zealand study in an infographic click here or you can also access the full study here.