Digital transformation will add an estimated $45 billion to Australia’s economy by 2021 and increase its growth rate by 0.5 per cent annually, according to a new study.
Unlocking the Economic Impact of Digital Transformation in Asia Pacific, produced by Microsoft in partnership with IDC Asia/Pacific, highlighted some of the challenges digitalisation presents the industry.
While companies cited benefits of digital transformation including improvement in profit margin and productivity, as well as cost reduction and increased revenue from new products and services, they also noted a lack of skills and resources, plus siloed organisations and cultures which are resistant to change.
“Australia is clearly on the digital transformation fast track. Within the next four years, we expect to see an additional $45 billion of Australia’s GDP derived from digital products and services,” said Steven Worrall, Microsoft Australia’s managing director.
“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 said.
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 believe that 83 per cent of jobs will be transformed in the next three years due to digital transformation, with 54 per cent 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,” Worrall said.
“While it’s encouraging to see that 66 per cent 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.”
Earlier this year, Microsoft launched its National Skills Program 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 continued .
“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.”