2020 is a milestone year. We all said we’d lose weight, take up that hobby or get back into that thing we loved by the time the calendar flipped over to the new decade. Many enterprise leaders said that they’d be well underway with their organisation’s digital transformation, but as it turns out, many are still working through the complexities such a transformation often demands.

How do we know that? They told us.

In both the 2020 KPMG CEO Survey and Telstra’s Digital Transformation Survey, leaders said that the one thing that keeps them up at night was… you guessed it: digital transformation.

And transformation isn’t a new worry, either. For the last three years, KPMG’s research has found that digital transformation has been the number one concern of Australian CEOs, even as it shifts dramatically under their feet.

While new concerns have emerged over the last three years (an uncertain geopolitical environment dominated by the China versus US trade war; climate change; and lack of public trust in Institutions and Corporations) digital transformation is still ranked as the number one business challenge.

Back in 2016, KPMG’s chairman collated the data and remarked that “[CEOs] feel that the next three years will be critical in shaping their industry,” adding that “CEOs are telling us the time for change is ‘now or never’”. Those critical three years have passed, and yet the concerns remain. So what’s happened?

The truth is, transformations such as these are hard. But every delay can compound the difficulties. It would be easy to sit back and throw popcorn from the cheap seats about digital transformation, but we’re not just idle observers at Telstra. We’re in the thick of it! We’re approaching the halfway point of out T22 plan, designed to streamline our business and transform it into the Telstra we want and need for the future, and it has by no means been easy. Additionally, Telstra is also working closely with many of our customers to help develop their strategies, design and implement their transformation journeys.

We’ve had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and be disciplined and courageous in the face of sweeping changes. Not only are we simplifying our offerings for our customers, but we’re also reshaping how we work in the back-end. We’re strategically investing in new IT platforms and retiring many of our legacy systems, while simultaneously building the networks of the future with 5G and IoT.

We aren’t waiting for the future to catch up to us. We’re building it.

By standing still, businesses all over the world risk the future overtaking them and digital native companies are disrupting or destroying traditional business models. Look at the banking and fintech sector, for example. Banks all over the world are being threatened by tech companies that move faster in their space, act smarter for their customers and rapidly transform to meet new challenges. Where legacy businesses see technology and related transformation buzzwords as a way to automate jobs and streamline processes in order to save money, tech companies are using it to innovate in order to make money.

By walking the transformative talk, companies around the world can take hold of their future and participate in shaping it for their customers and their shareholders in order to keep pace with the rapid rate of change around them.

Transformation is not without risk, but nothing worth having was built without risk. We’re determined to transform from the leader of today into the winner of tomorrow, and if we can transform a 150-year old incumbent, other leaders can too.


Technology is a broad church and digital transformation is never easy. You can find more information on the four most common weaknesses businesses encounter starting their digital transformation journey here, or if you’re stuck or yet to get started, talk to Telstra Purple today.