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Microsoft says ‘don’t fear digital transformation’

The new study relates to businesses in the U.K., although the results are of relevance to most advanced industrialized economies. The study is titled “Creating a Culture of Digital Transformation.” The headline statement from the Microsoft study is that around half (49 percent) of companies polled reported that they fear the effects that accompany digital transformation. This fear creates an inertia that suppresses the business benefits of changing business models along digital lines.

The survey results were unveiled at Microsoft’s Future Decoded event, which was held in London at the end of October 2017. For the study, Microsoft worked with Goldsmiths College (part of the University of London) and the polling organization YouGov. The survey scope formed 1,003 Business leaders in middle management or above in UK businesses with 500+ employees.

Fear of change
The study also discovered that 61 percent of employees admitted a degree of anxiety when a new way of working or a new type of technology is introduced into the workplace. Part of this appears to be driven by employment concerns, since 59 percent of workers expressed concerns about the impact of automation on their jobs.

As a parallel, recent research by the German company Siemens, reported by Digital Journal, found that automation is most likely to lead to an increase in employment with robots spearheading job creation rather than job reduction. This is with the caveat that automation happens sooner rather than later.

Culture transformation
These differing concerns perhaps explain why only 53 percent of U.K. companies have an active digital transformation program in place. Noting that digital transformation is only partly about technology, for changes to workplace culture and working practices also need to occur, the survey also found that just 23 per cent of firms have a program centered on cultural change in place.

Following on from this, Cindy Rose, who is Microsoft’s U.K. Chief Executive, stated: “Digital transformation is not just a technology deployment or an IT exercise, it’s a people exercise. Leaders of all organizations must therefore embrace cultural transformation from the top and explore the behavioral shifts needed to bring about lasting change.”

The risk stemming from this analysis, IT Portal reports, is that U.K. businesses (together with those similarly placed worldwide) that do not have digital transformation processes in place are likely to become uncompetitive.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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