Digitalisation, Manufacturing News

Digital transformation is more about people than technology

digital transformation

Ai Group’s Centre for Education and Training (CET) has set out the scale of the digital transformation opportunity (and challenge) before the industry in a new report.

“Digital transformation presents an incredible opportunity to grow and reshape our economy for the better, but the secret to unlocking this potential lies with people, not machines,” Ai Group head of Education & Training and executive director of the CET Megan Lilly said.

“We conducted interviews and case studies with 18 Australian companies drawn from a broad cross section of Ai Group’s membership.”

According to Lilly, the report found:

  • The pandemic has been an incredible catalyst for change
  • For these businesses, adopting, and adapting to new technologies in recent years has:
    • Driven demand for entirely new skillsets in a relatively short time;
    • Required existing jobs to be re-designed;
    • Changed the role and function of managers;
    • Driven cost savings;
    • Caused shortages in “in demand” skills; and
    • Caused businesses to focus more on training and development.
  • As COVID-19 turned more businesses towards e-commerce, many needed a range of new skillsets, such as marketing, distribution and logistics, website building and maintenance, and data intelligence and analytics.
  • Digital transformation has changed the roles of managers considerably
  • There is a wide spectrum of “digital maturity,” with strategic planning for a digital strategy less common outside of large corporations. Changes in smaller businesses tended to be more ad hoc and reactive.
  • Changes in technology are driving shifts in job function and job design. Administrative roles have decreased, and production engineers and IT product managers have expanded, and now involve co-ordinating a range of digital inputs and processes to achieve an outcome
  • All the businesses were looking to use digitally generated data to make business decisions more effectively
  • The majority of businesses reported difficulties recruiting and retaining staff with the increased digital capability now required
  • Many felt the education and training system needed to better reflect today’s business environment and prepare workers with a mindset to continually update their skills to remain productive.

“Digital transformation presents obvious benefits – productivity gains through automation and optimisation, the ability to reach potentially limitless markets and develop new business models,” Lilly said.

“However, beyond that, digital technologies can be harnessed to change work for the better, with opportunities to improve flexibility, counter the tyranny of distance and improve diversity and inclusion.”

Policy actions recommended by the report include:

  • Ensure baseline digital literacy for all;
  • Remake the education and training system for lifelong learning;
  • Make work-integrated and work-based learning the norm;
  • Expressly develop ‘human’ capabilities and characteristics;
  • Ensure no one is left behind;
  • Get skilled migration right;
  • Foster business certainty to drive investment;
  • Create trust in technology by protecting against risks;
  • Ensure a better data picture of skill needs; and
  • Work together to step up to the challenge.

“Successfully navigating digital transformation matters, to us all. As a nation, it’s critical to sustaining our productivity and global competitiveness. For enterprises, large and small, it’s life and death, as no business will escape the tide of digital transformation that is coming for them, whether they like it or not,” Lilly said.

Download the full report here.

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