Our Blog



Advancing Australia Fair: ever-changing times call for a refreshed approach to technology-enabled transformation

Reflections on 2017’s Microsoft Summit and a recent fireside chat with Microsoft Australia Managing Director, Steven Worrall.

2017 was a big year for Microsoft and its partners, which has seen the continued shift from a focus on the technology side of digital transformation to a focus on the people, business and societal impact transformation enables. Evidence of this shift is everywhere; from Microsoft’s internal realignment to the move from specific products to solutions (e.g. Modern Workplace, Data & AI). Technology is changing the face of not just business, but society as whole.

Two events which reflect these changes are the recently revamped Microsoft Summit in Australia and a recent visit to the Empired office by Microsoft Australia Managing Director, Steven Worrall.

A reconfigured, customer-focused Microsoft Summit, designed to “deliver the skills, solutions and connections for individuals and businesses to engage, adapt and grow in the digital age”

2017 saw a radical departure from the partner focused, Microsoft Australia Partner Conference of old into a more customer focused four-day event split into three sub events: the Microsoft Business Summit, Microsoft Partner Summit and Microsoft Tech Summit.

The Empired team, ready for the second day at the Microsoft Summit. Manasi Priya, Michelle Mancini, Stuart Strickland, Sally Thomassen, Paul Cina, Guy Riddle, Anle Pretorius.
The Empired team, ready for the second day at the Microsoft Summit. Manasi Priya, Michelle Mancini, Stuart Strickland, Sally Thomassen, Paul Cina, Guy Riddle, Anle Pretorius.

In the words of Microsoft Australia MD, Steven Worrall, who visited our Melbourne office not long after the summit:

“[The summit was] the biggest event we have had in the country, and I think it positioned us in a very different way than in the past. This is part of our evolution and our change.* Looking around the Australian market I see a real understanding that Australia is at a pretty important time as a country.”

Over the course of four days, more than 3,000 attendees explored the impact that digital transformation is having on Australian businesses and the shift needed to start thinking seriously about the future.

Attendees were challenged to think hard about the role we all play, as individuals and as organisations, in effecting change for the future that will have a positive impact on not just our businesses, but on Australia’s society, economics and employment prospects. This was also a key topic of conversation in Steven Worrall’s fireside chat with our Melbourne office (more on this below).

Top of mind throughout many of the sessions was the why of digital transformation. Once this transformation is embedded, what will it drive for businesses? What core purpose does this transformation serve? What is the broader non-technology impact?

The Empired coffee stand
The Empired coffee stand

In the words of Toni Townes-Whitley, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector and Industry:

“It’s not enough to transform – you need to transform continually, implement technology responsibly and ensure technology is inclusive for all.”

Aside from an overall shift in focus, I’d be remiss if I didn’t call out the other – more traditional – key highlight of the summit: the networking opportunities.

As technologists we don’t take enough opportunity to network and build on our relationships; too often we focus on the technology rather than the people. The summit was a perfect way to take the time to ensure we are working effectively not only with our biggest partner and our clients, but also with the broader channel.

Having all the Microsoft people in one location for four days gave us the opportunity for discussion on Microsoft’s plan for the next 12 months and ensuring that Empired aligns with this to better help our clients and future clients.

Empired’s fireside chat with Steven Worrall

Steven spoke to us about the role of the 290,000-strong Australian Microsoft partner community, Empired included, in contributing to “something bigger” and the collective impact that we have “on Australian business - [for example] helping schools, hospitals and people to use technology more efficiently.”

Microsoft Australia Managing Director, Steven Worrall, talks with Empired’s Melbourne office
Microsoft Australia Managing Director, Steven Worrall, talks with Empired’s Melbourne office

Here’s a snippet of some of the highlights of the conversation:

You might expect me to say this, but I genuinely mean it: there is no better time to be in IT.

As a country our competitiveness is slipping compared to our peers. There was a report a few months ago from a company called IMD [1] a Swiss based business school, they provide an annual competitiveness report of 63 developed nations around the world. We were 17th last year and 21st this year, so we are slipping.

In that report they also talked about business efficiency. Business efficiency for Australian business went from 17th to 27th this year and the primary reason for that decline was provided by CEA who are the committee for economic development in Australia [2]. They talk about the fact that our workforces’ transition to this digital age is not happening fast enough. We know this to be the case. There are examples all around us.

The stakes are high, the future for our kids and the next 30 or 40 years might not be as positive as the last.

We have had 26 years of unbroken economic growth, are we going to continue on this trajectory? On the news this morning, 30% of kids coming out of uni can’t get jobs – that’s a scary proposition. Of the 70% of kids that do get jobs out of uni, 30% of them get a job they didn’t need their degree for anyway!

Things are changing rapidly around the region and countries around the world are doing a better job than we are of transitioning their workforce, changing the way education is structured, changing the ways universities operate, certainly changing the way vocational education is provided, changing the ways organisations operate.

[As Microsoft partners] what are the skills we are building so we know we are future-proofing our people and our clients so that they can adapt to whatever digital reality they are going to have to confront in the future?

These are big issues and I think important issues for all of us and together, as this network of 290,000 people that we represent, we can really make a huge impact and turn this around.

We can help Australia to get ready and to compete more efficiently and effectively against our peers. But we need to think about our skills and how we are going to build those skills and then transfer them to our clients as well. Because when we deliver new platforms, the reason we get engaged is to transfer those skills across and help them become a digital version of themselves and to actually make the changes they need to make.

That is the thing that comes up in just about every meeting I have: this idea of change, tech-led perhaps, but it is more about people than it is about tech, ultimately.

* As a – related – side note, on the topic of Microsoft’s evolution and change, the perfect encapsulation of this changing mind set and approach can be found in Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s book, Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone. A fantastic read for anyone interested not just in the story of Microsoft’s evolution but in technology and transformation far more broadly.

[1] IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2017

[2] Australia's future workforce? a report released by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.

Posted by: Paul Cina, Group Partner Programs Manager | 19 January 2018


Top Rated Posts

Blog archive

Stay up to date with all insights from the Empired blog