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Australian businesses have made ample investment in digital technologies. Now it’s time to use technology to transform business and deliver value.

Australia’s businesses are at a critical juncture. After decades of change—both disruptive and insidious in nature—that altered long-held norms and ways of doing business, they face a game-changing choice: Continue working the old-fashioned way and risk punishing outcomes or focus their technology investments on business and operational innovation.

Choosing the latter will require tight alignment of technology initiatives with business goals, process digitization and sure-footed strategic planning. It seems, however, that many Australian businesses are failing to read the writing on the wall.

This, in a nutshell, is a key finding of recent Economist Impact research supported by Cognizant. To learn more, see our report, “Advance Australia prepare: how to make Australian businesses future-ready.”

Our analysis of Economist Impact data reveals that Australian businesses emerged from the pandemic heavy on technology but short on the ability to unlock strategic value from these investments, pivot working capital to drive productivity gains and achieve environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) targets.

What stands out is that Australian businesses are behind their counterparts in other regions when it comes to fully embracing digital-first business models. This has repercussions far and wide.

Business leaders in Australia face three major challenges in achieving these objectives:

1. The transformation gap

Australian organizations are behind other countries in translating high technology adoption into enterprise transformation, from digital business model innovation (strategy) to process digitization (operations). Moreover, the misalignment of business strategy and measurement frameworks means that while projects perform well against traditional IT metrics (being on-budget and on-time), they are not delivering against business objectives.

To what extent are the technologies/methodologies already adopted by your business department delivering strategic value to your operations? (Percent of respondents saying significant value)

Figure 1 Businesses struggle to unlock the full potential of their tech

Response base: 400 senior business executives

Source: Economist Impact Survey 2022

2. The process–productivity paradox

Modern operating models need cross-functional teams with the right digital skills and that are empowered by clear governance and decision making with tech-savvy leadership at all levels. While few respondents in the study report talent gaps, suboptimal digitization of workflows and lagging investments in re-training and/or redeployment of talent are causing Australia’s businesses to miss out on opportunities to capture value through process digitization.

Which of the following were the most significant challenges for your business department when implementing new processes, products, services, and technologies in the past year? Select up to five. (Percent of respondents saying significant challenge)

Figure 2 Top implementation challenges are workforce related

Response base: 400 senior business executives

Source: Economist Impact Survey 2022

3. Mismatched operational priorities

Australian businesses are also behind other countries in prioritizing operational enhancements across the organization. Below-par operational alignment and an inability to put data to use have cascading effects downstream, ultimately impacting organizations’ ability to predict change and innovate.

What impact, if any, have your company's technology improvement efforts had on the following business areas over the past year? Select one for each. (Percent of respondents saying significant positive impact)

Figure 3 Operational alignment lags when it comes to technology impact

Response base: 400 senior business executives

Source: Economist Impact Survey 2022

Addressing these challenges calls for an assessment of the roadblocks faced by businesses and a clear plan of action to address them. What are the steps Australian leaders need to take to get started? Read full article here.

The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of Cognizant and do not necessarily reflect the view and policies of Economist Impact. Data presented is from an Economist Impact executive survey, commissioned by Cognizant, conducted in early 2022.


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