Australian Business Challenges 2019 KPMG

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Following is an excerpt from KPMG blog on top 5 concerns for Australian business leaders which include digital transformation, innovation and disruption, regulation, political paralysis and customer centricity.

Australian business leaders describe the coming challenges.

Challenges According to Business Leaders (Image copyright Pexels).

What’s really top of mind and keeping our business leaders up at night (when there’s no axe to grind)

What are Australian business leaders really concerned about when they look forward to 2019?

So our research practice, KPMG Acuity, engaged a broad spectrum of C-level leaders from a diversity of industries to think about the main issues exercising them when they consider 2019.

220 leaders – some with fewer than 50 employees, some running companies with revenues of over $1 billion a year – took time out to respond. Most were from the private sector, but the public sector is represented as well.

In order of importance the top 5 issues are.

  1. Digital Transformation

Just about every CEO has ‘digital transformation’ at top of mind. In 2018, the term ‘digital transformation’ means so many things there is a very real risk that this lack of clarity is causing confusion, leading to diverse agendas and ultimately missed opportunities.

Digital transformation includes investments in digital technologies, but also spans the modification of an organisation’s functions, its ways of working, its back office technologies, and occasionally forging a completely new business model. True transformation should also include culture – often the poor cousin behind the more visible technology investment.”

  1. Innovation and disruption

The fear of disruption, on its most elemental level, is straightforward: the constant worry that your competition will use new tech and methods to do what you are not. But as we look toward 2019, we see the dilemma is actually more immediate, more tangible, and more complex.”

One reason for this is the current global marketplace has made it abundantly clear that the network effects of the innovation race tend toward winner-takes-all. There are spectacularly outsized growth opportunities for the lucky few – and the potential to get left in the dust for everyone else. This raises the stakes enormously.

  1. Regulation

This included both the sector-specific regulations facing the financial services industry and the broader challenges of harmonising business regulation; cutting red tape; and concerns over the capacity/capability of Australia’s regulators.

While we don’t wish to see needlessly bureaucratic demands on business, there is a danger of seeing new regulation as purely negative. Reporting can be a strong discipline to get things done, so we would urge businesses not to take their eyes off the ball and get into a defensive mindset if additional regulations are introduced in their sectors, or generally in 2019.

  1. Political paralysis

Fourth on the list of issues worrying business leaders was the ongoing political log jam at Canberra. There was uncertainty over the prospect of significant reforms or necessary changes, and a lack of belief that Australia’s major parties can work cohesively on national agenda items.

Many CEOs referred to energy policy as an indicia of political paralysis. The problem was a trilemma – price, stability, environment – but political discourse could not deal with the three issues and it drifted to one of the three depending on the political perspective. As a country we have to overcome this problem and start relying on evidence-based policy.

  1. Customer centricity

Customer not only came fifth in our list – but was the issue that permeated almost every other answer. It came up in responses ranging from regulation – where it needs to be seen through a lens of driving a closer connection of trust with your customers – to big data, where the real issue, said respondents, was ensuring every sector in the business has a plan to collect and deploy its data to create real value for customers.

The companies that truly get it are those who understand there is no silver bullet. These companies understand they need to have engaged, helpful people delivering outstanding service. That these people need to be working in alignment with a great digital experience. And that it is this combination that drives loyalty, advocacy, and commercial performance.

Read our full analysis of the top 10

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Skills of Critical Thinking

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Critical thinking and related literacies are viewed as essential soft, work or life skills to be taught and learnt by school students, apprentices, trainees, university students, employees and broader society, but how?

Following is parts of an article from The Conversation focusing upon argumentation, logic, psychology and the nature of science to help people understand and analyse the world round us in an age of fake news, conspiracy theories, anti-science and anti-education sentiments.

‘How to teach all students to think critically

December 18, 2014 2.27pm AEDT

All first year students at the University of Technology Sydney could soon be required to take a compulsory maths course in an attempt to give them some numerical thinking skills.

The new course would be an elective next year and mandatory in 2016 with the university’s deputy vice-chancellor for education and students Shirley Alexander saying the aim is to give students some maths “critical thinking” skills.

This is a worthwhile goal, but what about critical thinking in general?

Most tertiary institutions have listed among their graduate attributes the ability to think critically. This seems a desirable outcome, but what exactly does it mean to think critically and how do you get students to do it?

So what should any mandatory first year course in critical thinking look like? There is no single answer to that, but let me suggest a structure with four key areas:

 

Argumentation

The most powerful framework for learning to think well in a manner that is transferable across contexts is argumentation.  Arguing, as opposed to simply disagreeing, is the process of intellectual engagement with an issue and an opponent with the intention of developing a position justified by rational analysis and inference.

 

Logic

Logic is fundamental to rationality. It is difficult to see how you could value critical thinking without also embracing logic.  People generally speak of formal logic – basically the logic of deduction – and informal logic – also called induction.  Deduction is most of what goes on in mathematics or Suduko puzzles and induction is usually about generalising or analogising and is integral to the processes of science.

 

Psychology

One of the great insights of psychology over the past few decades is the realisation that thinking is not so much something we do, as something that happens to us. We are not as in control of our decision-making as we think we are.  We are masses of cognitive biases as much as we are rational beings. This does not mean we are flawed, it just means we don’t think in the nice, linear way that educators often like to think we do.

 

The Nature of Science

Learning about what the differences are between hypotheses, theories and laws, for example, can help people understand why science has credibility without having to teach them what a molecule is, or about Newton’s laws of motion.  Understanding some basic statistics also goes a long way to making students feel more empowered to tackle difficult or complex issues. It’s not about mastering the content, but about understanding the process.’

 

This article is from 2014, however it is unclear what Federal and State Education Departments are doing to include the explicit teaching and learning of critical thinking skills to students via curricula and syllabi?

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Digital Technology Readiness or Disruption – Australia

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Following is a precis of an article from Business Insider Australia based upon presentation by former New Corp Australia Head Mr. Kim Williams about digital technology, disruption, literacy, innovation and opportunities.

KIM WILLIAMS: Why Australia still isn’t ready for the digital era

Digital technology will impact society, organisations, government, business and people.

Ready for Digital Technology Disruption? (Image copyright Pexels)

SARAH KIMMORLEY MAY 18, 2015, 1:11 PM

‘Former News Corp Australia chief executive Kim Williams says Australia “is not managing the change at all well” as digital disruption upends the global economy.

Speaking today at digital disruption conference, Daze of Disruption, Williams, now the commissioner of the Australian Football League, spoke about how companies must understand digital technologies in order to navigate their way through the era successfully.

“The opportunities will be infinitely larger and more interesting… [but] the journey is still in its infancy,” Williams said.

“[New digital technologies] will result in reductions of cost, new-found wonders in efficiencies of operations and a wealth of new possibilities for the quality of life.

“We’re up for a fascinating ride.”

 

Here are some of his predictions for businesses can expect:

 

  • Those who don’t innovate will fail.
  • The transfer of power from business to consumers will accelerate.
  • Technology is going to become a genetic extension of our beings.
  • Mobile is the future.
  • A dark age is coming (for those locked out).
  • Life will consist of a series of interconnected, virtual systems.
  • Social media is the key to engaging the next generation.
  • We’re all going to live longer and better.
  • Roads will become redundant.’

 

Much of the above is already apparent in media, entertainment, education, digital marketing, social networking, e-commerce, business, government and many services.

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Trends in Digital Marketing and Business Strategy

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Technology, data and design are key to successful organisations, supported by the right culture, what are the latest trends?

Curiously, while speaking of customer experience CX and their ‘journey’, there is little focus upon customer driven strategies or CGM customer generated media content that is informed, logical, authentic and economic?

‘From Prateek Vatash of Econsultancy via AMI Australian Marketing Institute – Digital Intelligence Briefing – Executive Summary

Econsultancy’s 2018 Digital Trends report, published in association with Adobe, is based on a global survey of 12,795 marketing, creative and technology professionals in the digital industry across EMEA, North America and Asia Pacific.

Now in its eighth year, the research looks at the most significant trends that will impact companies in the short to medium term. As part of this year’s study, we have also identified a number of top-performing companies in order to identify how they are focusing their activities and investments differently compared to their peers.

High-performing companies are those organisations that exceeded their top 2017 business goal by a significant margin, and who have also significantly outperformed their competitors.  Key insights from the research include:

 

Companies continue to focus on the customer experience (CX), as well as the content required to facilitate this. Organisations committed to CX are shown to outperform their peers.
– Asked about the single most exciting opportunity for the year ahead, optimising customer experience (19%) again comes out on top, ahead of data-driven marketing that
focuses on the individual (16%) and creating compelling content for digital experiences (14%).
– Organisations with a ‘cross-team approach with the customer at the heart of all initiatives’ are nearly twice as likely to have exceeded their top 2017 business goal by a significant margin (20% vs. 11%).
– Just under two-thirds (62%) of companies agree they have ‘a cohesive plan, long-term view and executive support for the future of [their] customer’.
– The top strategic priority for organisations in 2018 is content and experience management. Almost half (45%) of companies surveyed rank this as one of their three most important priority areas for the year ahead, with a fifth (20%) stating that this is their primary focus.

 

We are entering a ‘design and creativity renaissance’, with top-performing companies recognising the importance of these capabilities to complement data and technology excellence.
– The survey has found that just under three-quarters (73%) of respondents say their companies are investing in design to differentiate their brands.
– Organisations describing themselves as ‘design-driven’ are 69% more likely than their peers to have exceeded their 2017 business goals by a significant margin (22% vs. 13%). – – Similarly, organisations where creativity is highly valued are 46% more likely to have exceeded their 2017 business goals by a significant margin (19% vs. 13%).
– Organisations that ‘have well-designed user journeys that facilitate clear communication and a seamless transaction’ are 57% more likely to have significantly surpassed their 2017 business goals (22% vs. 14%).

 

Investment in technology and related skills is paying dividends, with integrated platforms fast-becoming a prerequisite for success.
– A lack of integrated marketing technology reduces the chances of providing a seamless customer experience and can also be frustrating for marketers and other employees who want to go about their jobs without unnecessary restrictions in their ability to acquire, retain and delight customers.
– In terms of their tech setup, 43% of organisations report a fragmented approach with inconsistent integration between technologies. Top-performing companies are almost three times as likely as their mainstream peers to have invested in a highly-integrated, cloud-based technology stack (25% vs. 9%).
– Digital skills are vital for a range of marketing tools and platforms. Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents agree that their companies are ‘combining digital marketing skills with technology’. Companies doing this are nearly twice as likely to have surpassed their 2017 business goals by a significant margin (20% vs. 11%), according to our analysis.

 

AI set to play a growing role in helping marketers to deliver more compelling real-time experiences.
– When asked about the themes and technologies they are most excited about over a three-year time frame, ‘delivering personalised experiences in real time’ is by far the most popular choice across all regions, with more than a third (36%) of company respondents, and 40% of their
agency counterparts, selecting this option.
– Top-performing companies are more than twice as likely as their peers to be using AI for marketing (28% vs. 12%). Only 15% of companies are already using AI, but a further 31% are planning to do so in the next 12 months. Looking only at respondents with annual revenues of more than £150m, the proportion of organisations using AI increases to 24%.
– Analysis of data is a key AI focus for businesses, with companies keen to create insight out of the vast quantities of often unstructured data being generated by customers’ activity. On-site personalisation is the second most-commonly cited use case for AI.’

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