Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD Jan-Feb 2017 Contents AUSTRALIAN/NZ COMPANIES NEED TO SPEED
When I first saw the results of IFS's
new Digital Transformation Survey of
nearly 500 senior decision makers in
20+ countries, I was surprised that only 50%
of respondents in Australia/NZ said they had a
clear strategy for digital transformation.
The reason wasn't that 50% seemed like a
low figure based on my experience. Rather, I
was surprised that it was less than any other
region surveyed, and that included ASEAN,
Benelux, Brazil, China, Finland, Poland,
Scandinavia, and the US. On average, the
global figure was 60% and in some regions, like
Scandinavia, it was around 66%.
My perception had been that, amongst the
industries surveyed -- and this ranged across a
wide range of industries that IFS works within,
including transport and logistics -- that Australia/
NZ was relatively advanced from a technology
perspective. After all, conventional wisdom
has it that Australia is one of the world's most
advanced users of technology, even though we
may not have a big tech industry.
But I'm beginning to question this
assumption as the pace of technological
change picks up around the world. While
IFS is seeing tremendous innovation in local
industries -- around supply chain visibility and
responsiveness, for example -- the question is: is
it enough to remain globally competitive in this
era of disruptive change?
Are companies transforming themselves to
take advantage of more disruptive technologies?
Australia's mining industry is a world leader in
driverless (or, at least, remote-controlled) trucks.
But do we have anything to rival the Fraunhofer
Institute in Germany, which now has a completely
'driverless' warehouse and supply chain?
My concerns increased when I drilled down
into some of the other comparative breakdowns
of the Digital Transformation Survey, particularly
where respondents were asked to rate various
disruptive technologies' importance in driving
There was only one disruptive technology
that respondents from Australia/NZ rated
higher that the global average. Locals rated
Cloud computing 60 out of 100 in importance,
compared with a global average of 59, but in
every other category, the figures were down on
the global average. For example, we rated the
Internet of Things 53 out of 100, vs 59 globally;
Machine learning 44, vs 53 globally; and
Wearable technology 38, vs 48 globally.
While the differences weren't enormous,
a clear pattern emerged. A lower proportion
of Australian/NZ companies in the surveyed
industries appear to have seriously evaluated
these disruptive technologies and included them
in their digital transformation strategies.
So, what should we do about it?
Firstly, I think we should all be aware that
we can't take the performance of any of our
industries for granted, no matter how well it has
performed in the past, and how sophisticated
we may think it is. And this includes industries
like transport and logistics, which is becoming
And secondly, we need to take technological
disruption more seriously and work together at
the national, industry and enterprise level to
develop innovation strategies that enable digital
The recent Australian election campaign was
a missed opportunity to debate these issues, in
my opinion. The innovation debate has been
far too narrowly focused around things like
funding for start-up companies, collaboration
via innovation hubs, better STEM (science,
technology, engineering and mathematics)
education, and improved access to government
I remain a big supporter of efforts to kick-start
new innovation-based industries and support
growth in start-ups. But strategies with an
immediate impact in helping existing Australian
enterprises to innovate and be globally
competitive are even more urgently required.
Rob Stummer is the managing director,
Australia and New Zealand for global
enterprise applications company IFS. He has
held this position for the past eight years,
continually achieving significant growth
annually in both revenues and EBIT. Rob holds
several degrees, including a Masters from
Melbourne University. For more information
"We should all be aware
that we can't take the
performance of any of our
industries for granted, no
matter how well it has
performed in the past,
and how sophisticated we
may think it is."
CHANGE. N O W.
MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS --- JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017 31
DATA CAPTURE AND IT
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