“Irish companies are losing out” – New research reveals Irish businesses are slow to transform

Aisling Curtis - Digital Transformation In IrelandAuthor: Aisling Curtis – Aisling is the Small and Medium Solutions and Partners (SMSP) Director at Microsoft Ireland. 

Digital Transformation’s 2020 Foresight

Irish organisations need to digitally transform or be transformed by 2020.

This is a term that has a lot of organisations and people confused. Put simply Digital Transformation is using technology to evolve your business model to gain competitive advantage.

In Ireland, IBEC research showed it that in 2015, the Irish digital market was worth €2.3 billion alone. Globally it is even better news: the opportunity presented by Digital Transformation could be worth up to $100 trillion dollars according to the World Economic Forum.

It is staggering money, but Irish companies are losing out.

The Digital Gulf

Last week Microsoft published a report from Harvard Business Review. It showed that Digital Transformation is a priority, and is broadly seen as a positive process by 80% of organisations, but less than half of these have a plan to implement a full Digital Transformation process.

A 2016 Irish Domain Registry (IEDR) report showed that 72% of Irish SMEs cannot process online payments and nearly 80% have no online presence. According to the Department of Communications, consumers spend €850,000 per day online and our inability to transact online means we lose over €4.5 billion a year to foreign websites. Take a moment to process that, because we need to acknowledge that there is a digital gulf between the consumer and Irish business that will only grow wider and wider, and needs to be addressed by 2020.

Digital Revelations

We worked closely with Amarach Research to understand how Irish business are preparing for Digital Transformation. The findings of this research show that there is a lot of ground to be made up by Irish businesses to successfully transform.

So, what did we find out?

There are three major issues affecting Irish organisations:

Transformation Anxiety: While 60% of Irish organisations saw themselves as digital disruptors, half worried about how long their current business models would last, believing they would be disrupted in two years. While over half (51%) have digital transformation strategies in place, a quarter are unsure as to what initial steps to take. 41% of Irish companies highlight internal issues ranging from lack of the right skills to slow decision making by senior staff on implementation as major obstacles to digital transformation.

Understanding of Digital Transformation: Less than half (49%) understand Digital Transformation as leveraging technology to help them evolve quickly. In addition, a further 30% of organisations admitted that they did not know which technology to adopt to help them digitally transform.

But there is good news:

Innovation driving from new business areas: Digital transformation is driving innovation from across the business with 51% saying their organisation has a clear or formal Digital Transformation strategy, that is being driven by both the CEOs and the board. This is a major change with only 23% seeing the CIO as a driver, with less than 11% seeing the CFO as a key stakeholder.

Digital Skills will be in high demand: If you are digitally savvy, your time has come. Overall 65% of organisations said empowering employees was a priority. Digitally savvy employees in their 20’s and 30’s are now seen as vital to successful Digital Transformation. Over 31% of companies had stepped up their recruitment activities to attract these staff. 74% of digitally savvy staff felt they had made a major contribution to enabling their company to digitally transform. But organisations need to ensure that all staff are included in transforming the business. Otherwise, you may miss out on key insights and experience needed to guide your business along such a transformative process.

Four Key Steps to Digitally Transform

Digital Transformation can be revolutionary – Microsoft went through this process; we know it is a challenge. We work with organisations, both large and small through our 1,100 partners in our network (as well as directly).

Understand that Digital Transformation is a multilayered approach to your organisation – not just a technology add on. From our experience, the four step of Digital Transformation are:

  • Empower your employees by designing a workplace to enable them to be mobile while keeping your organisation, people and information secure.
  • Focus on engaging your customers, by building natural, tailored experiences that delight them and harness their data to create actionable insights delivering market success.
  • Internally, optimise operations to improve service levels, and reduce costs with intelligent processes that anticipate the future.
  • Finally, organisations must adapt to reinventing products and business models to harness data as a strategic asset, automate manual processes, delivering personalisation to customers. This is about innovating with new business models, services, products and experiences to differentiate and capture emerging opportunities.

If you think it is something for foreign enterprises with deep resources, think again. To give you an example we have worked with Irish companies ranging from Healthcare to Music Rights for artists.

For example:

Laya Healthcare enabled its team to have speedy access to the data they need for scalable and enhanced reporting to support their business, and have given them a wealth of time back to the organisation for them to spend more time working on their client’s needs.

IMRO (The Irish Music Rights Organisation) has built an automated, Microsoft Cloud-based system to track copyrighted works and deliver royalty payments. This system manages the growing number of databases to securely develop, manage and store critical information. This enables users quickly upload their work so they can get paid for its use without delay. This system calculates royalties based on all radio plays, TV programmes and online downloads. automates back-end processes, freeing IMRO to focus on business growth.

If you take away nothing else, understand that there is a huge market opportunity within reach. But senior leadership must drive the vision and the change to successfully evolve. As the Harvard report put it – Transform or be Transformed

For further information on these research findings, check out our infographic

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