How to build a digital-ready business fit for the future

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How to build a digital-ready business fit for the future
We must tackle each day as though the future is already here.
Photo by Tom Parkes on Unsplash

While the Australian economy has rebounded better than expected following lockdowns, the road to recovery is set to be a slow one.

To ensure a pandemic exit route along a path of prosperity, rather than stagnation and struggle, businesses need to realign their focus towards a cloud-first future.

According to this year’s IDC Salesforce Economy Study, cloud-related technologies are expected to account for 18 per cent of digital transformation IT spending this year in the Asia Pacific, growing to 29 per cent in 2026. This massive growth is rooted in the fact that the cloud is critical to digital transformation.

We’re seeing it play in out in every sphere of life — from retail to education and healthcare. Companies are looking for new ways to seamlessly engage with customers, partners and their internal teams - and they’re turning to the cloud to free up IT resources and enable business innovation.

With all the tools available to propel businesses into a digital future, the biggest hurdle for many is simply taking the first steps; understanding how the technology can be implemented into their business, having the right people with the appropriate skills to put to use, and having the right leadership mindset to make it all happen.

Start by building a digital headquarters to connect employees and customers

The move to an all-digital world is creating fertile ground for businesses to blossom however it requires businesses build a digital HQ - an online workplace that connects everyone in your business, helping them find new ways to innovate, collaborate and stay connected.

Take Canva, one of the greatest success stories from Australia. With 55 million monthly active users in 190+ countries, more than six billion designs have been created on the platform since 2013 - that’s 100 designs per second.

Up until a few years ago, its sales teams lacked the tools needed to manage this growth; running pipeline, account assignments and leads all on Google Sheets. As it scaled and entered new overseas markets, it became increasingly difficult to manage and communicate information across a globally dispersed workforce.

To convert business potential into growth, Canva leaned into a cloud-first approach with Salesforce and Slack to create a digital HQ. By doing so, it’s been able to communicate with its customers in real-time and establish a new global enterprise sales team remotely during the pandemic, which has grown from eight to more than 70 people.

Invest in digital skills to bridge the knowledge gap

Every business has been challenged to accelerate their digital evolution in the last year and a half, triggering a shift in the types of jobs and skills needed within the workforce. Businesses need people skilled in the latest tools and who understand and can build their digital transformations now and into the not too distant future.

We’re already seeing significant demand for people skilled in emerging technologies. A quarter of new jobs created by Salesforce in Australia this year leverage significant digital skills such as automation tools, the Internet of Things (IoT), and other complex applications. This will only continue to grow with IDC forecasting Salesforce and its ecosystem of partners in Australia will create 104,400 new jobs by 2026.

Ensuring workers are ready to step into these roles is vital - and upskilling and reskilling will play a major role in bridging the current knowledge gap. Blaze Your Trail is one example of an organisation that is enabling people to upskill in digital skills. A social enterprise, it provides migrants, refugees and asylum seekers with practical hands-on learning and work experience in Salesforce via online training platform, Trailhead. It’s a win-win as migrants are provided with opportunities to do free projects for charities while at the same time build up their skills and expertise with in-demand skills in Salesforce.

A future-focused mindset necessary for success

Much like what we all faced back in March 2020, businesses have suddenly been challenged to adapt rapidly to being digital first. There’s no denying that the pandemic pressed the accelerator on digital transformation - now it’s up to businesses to take control of the wheel. Decisions that once sat comfortably in the future are now upon us — something that is both terrifying and exciting.

We must tackle each day as though the future is already here because if there is one thing we learnt from the pandemic, it’s that we never know what tomorrow will bring. The businesses that make future-focused decisions and wake up like it’s already 2030 will be the ones emerging as winners in a cloud-driven future. The focus today should be on ensuring that businesses have the tools to grow and that people are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.  Digital is just digital without purpose, vision or people.

John Moran is Area Vice President for Industries at Salesforce.

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