Microsoft and industry-leading customers demonstrate digital leadership

SYDNEY – November 13, 2017 – During a preview of its flagship customer and partner event, Microsoft Summit, which takes place in Sydney this week from 14 – 17 November, Microsoft today outlined how Australia and Australian organisations must take a digital leadership position to compete in the digital economy.

Microsoft was joined by a host of customers – including Australian Consolidated Milk, Aussie, Cab Charge Australia, the Department of Health and Human Services Victoria, Ertech, Indigital, PACT Group, RMIT, StatePlus, and Steelcase – which outlined how they are innovating to transform their organisations.

Leveraging cloud computing, advanced analytics, rich data collections, artificial intelligence and more, these digital leaders revealed how they are using Microsoft technology to engage customers, empower their employees, optimise their operations, and transform the products and services they offer.


Cultural transformation key to organisational success

With digital innovation tipped to be worth up to $250 billion to the Australian economy over the next eight years[1], Microsoft outlined the opportunity for local organisations while cautioning that strong leadership was required if all Australians are to benefit from the digital era.

Steven Worrall, Managing Director, Microsoft Australia said that Australia has reached an important inflexion point and needs digital leadership for the nation to continue its strong economic track record.

“While Australia has enjoyed 26 years of growth – it has now slipped to 21st in the world competitiveness rankings and ranks 27th in terms of business efficiency [2].

“At the same time the Productivity Commission[3] has warned that sectoral transformation and innovation means that without careful corporate stewardship, existing workers may find their skills displaced and themselves vulnerable to unemployment,” Worrall said.

But he pointed to the Commission’s acknowledgment that the “critical x-factor” in strong long-run economic growth comes from the application of new knowledge and technologies.

“There is a real opportunity here for enterprise leaders to accelerate digital transformation by leveraging rich technology ecosystems and upskilling staff to meet changing customer and society expectations.

“However, to innovate at the speed and scale that is required, the key determinant of success won’t be technology but the ability of companies to adapt both their leadership and their organisations for the digital era. Cultural transformation is the vital ingredient to any successful digital transformation,” he said.


Transforming responsibly

According to Microsoft’s global head of industry, Toni Townes-Whitley, who was in Sydney to speak at Microsoft Summit, “Australian business leaders have the opportunity to embrace the transformative power of the cloud to accelerate business innovation and create experiences that consistently exceed customer expectations.” She stressed that digital leadership is required to ensure that all Australian citizens and business are empowered with technology solutions that are trusted, innovative and inclusive.

According to Townes-Whitley, “Digital leadership goes beyond building innovative solutions and robust technology platforms to transform industries and public sector organisations, global companies like Microsoft need to think of the broader societal implications and transform responsibly. Where do we stand on privacy? Are we ensuring that our technology is accessible? On artificial intelligence, are we building responsible algorithms?” she said, adding that leaders across public sector organisations and commercial enterprises needed to thoughtfully navigate these issues to ensure both optimal business outcomes and principled social impact.


Aussie enterprises already taking the lead

Research from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, commissioned by Microsoft, revealed that 80 per cent of business leaders believe their industry will be disrupted by digital technology and 84 per cent believe disruption is imminent. Microsoft has recently published specialist reports to support transformation efforts across the health, manufacturing, financial services and education industries.

The window for innovation and transformation is wide open to enterprises prepared to demonstrate technology leadership and vision. Examples of Australian companies which are digitally transforming include:

  • Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Serviceswhich has taken a Platform + Agile approach to innovation and transformation. Led by CIO Dr Steve Hodgkinson DHHS is delivering a raft of new capability and function that is the envy of other Government departments. It allows it to innovate rapidly – most recently with a thunderstorm asthma early warning system and app that have genuine lifesaving potential.
  • In the financial services sector superannuation firm StatePlus under the leadership of Susan Woods, General Manager, Business Technology Services & Transformation, has transitioned data and core applications to Microsoft Azure. This has allowed the firm to deliver an Australian first with straight through processing of financial advice, enhancing the customer experience, injecting operational efficiency, and providing a digital edge to the business.
  • Packaging business Pact Group is stepping up to Industry 4.0 with an Azure foundation for future transformation plans which include the possibility of using autonomous drones to support stocktaking activities; leveraging machine learning to schedule predictive maintenance across its thousands of manufacturing lines; and supporting enterprise decision making using Power BI turbocharged by the Microsoft Bot framework.
  • Azure based system Track’em is being used by civil construction contractor Ertech to keep track of the thousands of pieces of equipment and parts used on Chevron’s Barrow Island natural gas facility. Leveraging Power BI and Cosmos DB, executives have visibility across the enterprise – streamlining operations, ensuring compliance with strict regulatory controls and helping to minimise environmental impact.
  • Cabcharge CTO Deon Ludick is transforming to compete head on with transport sector disruptors. An Azure platform has delivered transport transparency and control to corporate users of Cabcharge by providing clarity about who is spending what, where and when, and also underpins consumer apps that strip the friction and frustration out of a journey.


Leveraging advanced technology to make a digital difference

Leaders who meld human creativity and business insight with advances in the cloud, big data, connected things, advanced analytics, mixed reality and artificial intelligence, have the building blocks for digital transformation. They are becoming more engaged with their customers, empowering their employees, optimising how they run their business operations and transforming the products and services they offer using digital content.

  • Australian Consolidated Milk which handles 350 million litres of milk each year has deployed an Internet of Things cloud solution built by Advanced Computing to streamline its supply chain and reduce the risk of milk spoilage if the temperature gets too high by sending early warnings enabling immediate intervention. It reduces waste, cuts costs, is a more sustainable approach and reduces anguish for dairy farmers who will have greater transparency about the quality of their milk.
  • Mortgage specialist Aussie has transitioned the entire enterprise to Microsoft 365 Enterprise creating a far more efficient workplace allowing national collaboration on confidential documents and access to up-to-the-minute data without any sacrifice of proper governance or security. That environment is progressively being embraced by Aussie’s brokers while the firm is also looking to leverage PowerBI to identify and percolate best practice.
  • Harnessing emerging classes of technology has allowed RMIT‘s School of Architecture and Urban Design to use HoloLens to transform the construction process, taking data directly from architectural drawings, and turning that into augmented reality representations of the building to guide construction workers, accelerate building and reduce waste.
  • Augmented reality is also at the heart of Kakadu based firm Indigital’s latest initiative to make accessible and to amplify indigenous cultural understanding and insight. The firm has used drones, 4D mapping and smartphone apps in the past to share indigenous insights. It is now using HoloLens to bring indigenous stories and wisdom to the fore.
  • Steelcase is exploring the future of work, developing a range of technology-enabled spaces designed to help organisations foster creative thinking and better collaboration, harnessing Azure and IoT sensors to understand how people work best, parlay that into better office design and augment that with Surface devices to create genuinely smart spaces.

According to Steven Worrall, the digital leadership showcased by these organisations ahead of Microsoft Summit serves as a beacon for other enterprises seeking to make a digital difference.

“Each of these organisations has strong, principled digital leadership in place and understand the shifting expectations of customers, business partners and citizens. Each has established skilled teams and cultures that are geared for change and enterprise transformation. They are deploying solutions for today without losing sight of the need for continuous innovation,” said Worrall.


Sharing tried and tested strategies for success

While each enterprise has a unique need and solution, there are common strategies for success which digital leaders harness when seeking to create a digital difference in their organisation:

  1. Begin with the end in mind: With a clear vision of where you want to go, you can create a compelling plan for change for your organisation.
  2. Going digital has to start at the top: Grassroots efforts and skunkworks projects are great, but the company has to know digital is a priority for senior leadership. The modern CIO partners closely with business leaders.
  3. Data matters most: Intelligent action is critical to the digital business – but the system can only be as intelligent as the data available. Get the data foundations right.
  4. Create a digital culture: Change can be daunting, especially for large, established companies. Foster a growth mindset, give employees the right tools to collaborate and unlock creativity.
  5. Start now or risk getting left behind: We are in an era when first to market matters more than ever. Identify where you can begin quickly and grow digital capabilities from there, potentially building on existing systems or infrastructure.


About Microsoft 

Microsoft is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.

[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/asia-pacific/digital-australia-seizing-opportunity-from-the-fourth-industrial-revolution

[2] https://worldcompetitiveness.imd.org/countryprofile/AU/wcy

[3] http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/productivity-review/report/productivity-review-supporting8.pdf