Australia can add $45 billion to the national GDP in the next four years if it remains on the digital transformation “fast track” – but there will be some challenges along the way.

Microsoft Australia has partnered with leading research firm IDC to publish a new report Unlocking the economic impact of Digital Transformation in Australia, looking at the future impacts of digital transformation.

Through analysing the ways in which digital transformation can and does improve a business’s profit margin, the report found that digital transformation will increase Australia’s GDP growth rate by 0.5% annually – equating to an additional $45 billion by 2021.

“Australia is clearly on the digital transformation fast track,” said Managing Director at Microsoft Australia, Steven Worrall.

“At the same time, organisations are increasingly deploying emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence as part of their digital transformation initiatives, which will accelerate growth even further.”

Aside from the boost digital transformation can deliver to the economy, the report also looked at the ways in which jobs and employment will be transformed.

The message was clear – jobs will be transformed, not displaced.

“The rise of digital transformation will no doubt affect the labour market where many jobs will evolve and change,” Worrall said.

“Organisations must focus on reskilling and upskilling those already in workforce who may not have the required skillset for the changing economy.”

Respondents believed 83% of Australian jobs were set to be transformed over the next three years due to digital transformation.

While 54% of jobs were set to be redeployed to higher value roles, the remaining 29% of changing jobs were at risk of automation, outsourcing or redundancy.

However, there was recognition of the education sector, with the report stating that 66% of young professionals already have future-ready skills that will help them transition into new roles.

Being a leader

The report divided organisations into two groups – leaders and followers.

It found that the followers far outweighed the leaders, with only 7% of organisations classified as leaders, the remaining 93% all falling into the follower’s category.

Additionally, it looked for the traits that set apart the leaders from the followers.

It found that almost half (47.6%) of the companies with a full digital transformation strategy in place were leaders, while just 17.3% of followers had such a strategy.

A “full strategy” meant the company had “mature and developed digital processes, people readiness, and support systems in place.”

It also found that data strategies were a differentiating factor between leaders and followers.

Labelling 2018 as “the year of mass adoption of artificial intelligence," the report said leaders will reap the benefits of this new technology by investing in big data analytics.

Leaders were more likely to have a data atrategy in place, with 18.6% investing in big data analytics, compared to 15.8% of followers.