INSIGHT 1 – Digital Transformations are about so much more than technology

Insights and Observations from Australian Digital Transformations

The conversation that matters

What’s really going on inside the Australian corporate landscape?

This is a conversation that needs to be started – and this is what we want.

Real conversations based upon actual experiences of local people who have lived and survived the journey, learning along the way. We will be exploring in more detail our insights from the market in this Digital Transformation series.


To inspire an honest and constructive dialog, the kind that is required to underpin a “fail fast, fail often” and “learn and grow” culture of innovation in Australian corporations.

Why now?

Simply, disruptive forces are growing in number and magnitude and the consequence of inaction are both catastrophic and real. I’m sure this is not lost on the powers to be at Foxtel, who are aggressively pursuing a dual transformation strategy including the establishment of Kayo, their new streaming brand in a fight to stay relevant in the digital content delivery market dominated by players like Netflix.

It would also not be lost on Telstra. One of the owners of Foxtel, Telstra experienced one of Australia’s most significant Kodak moments with “Sensis”, the multi-billion-dollar directory business. The once “jewel in Telstra’s crown” that failed to acknowledge or respond to digital disruption and the rise of Google. In the now infamous 2005 interview with ABC Business Editor Peter Ryan, Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo dismissed the threat Google represented to Sensis, stating publicly;

“Google Schmoogle. We’re outgrowing Google in Australia. We’re doing more, we’re growing faster and we have more capability, because we’re more relevant.”

Over the past decade, too many Transformation attempts in Australia have shared parallels with the idiom ‘The Emperor has no Clothes’.

It’s time to face reality.

INSIGHT 1 – “Digital Transformations are about so much more than technology”

Visions that guide Digital Transformations often describe an adaptive enterprise that is perpetually taking risks, learning, responding, adapting and thriving in highly dynamic environments. There is no doubt that technology is a primary enabler of these vision states, across all market interfaces and touchpoints, and across the data, security and process domains. However, the real “secret sauce” is the people and the culture.

The challenge

Over the past 20 years, most ASX-200’s organisations have ‘transactionalised’ their cultures, preferring short term financial results over all else.

Innovation has been dominated by a focus on efficiency. Down-sizing, right-sizing, outsourcing and off-shoring have taken precedence over a bolder, more-risky and longer-term investment in products, services and market opportunities. For those that did invest in innovation, the preferred pattern was to give it an office and appoint a leader with a title like “Head of Strategy and Innovation”. Unfortunately, this approach perpetuated the fictional concept that innovation only happens in one department – where the smarter people work.

Why is it hard?

The much needed cultural change required to underpin a successful digital transformation must address the historic disempowerment of the workforce.

Developing a culture of innovation and empowerment, where innovation is embedded in the DNA and occurs in every functioning cell of the organization takes a lot more than a series of Agile training courses, a group of contract coaches and the proliferation of post-it notes.

The complexity of the task has been compounded by decisions in many organisations to reduce investment in the competencies and disciplines of:

  • Leadership
  • Change Management
  • Product Management
  • People and Culture

required to shape and drive these aspects of the transformation.

The result is often an over-reliance on expensive consultancies from the top-end-of-town to drive the transformation. How successful has this pattern been?

Innovation Culture: Who is doing it?

REA – Over many years, REA has crafted a growth culture. It forms and empowers squads with directed innovation challenges based around well-formed hypotheses or questions aligned to value streams or customer sets. REA has been recognized as one of “the places to work” and continues to attract some of our market’s best talent.

REA’s Secret Sauce: “an empowered innovation culture cultivating collaboration and belief”

Coming Up Next:  INSIGHT 2 – “Cost Reduction masquerading as Innovation”

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