The slow grind of the post-pandemic recovery is proving challenging for many companies as they adjust to an extended period of low economic growth.
But it can also present opportunities for companies prepared to embrace change, says Haren Samarasekera, head of greenfield, commercial at Amazon Web Services (AWS) New Zealand, sponsor of the Deloitte Top 200 Company of the Year award.
“Challenging economic times can be a catalyst for innovation – companies can use this time to test new strategies, ways of working, and experiment with new products and services to come out ahead of the competition,“ Samarasekera said.
“Companies can also use this time to drive cost optimisation, a business-focused, continuous discipline to drive spending and cost reduction while maximising business value.”
This year’s finalists for the Deloitte Top 200 Company of the Year award are Xero, Tourism Holdings, and Infratil. All three have managed to keep moving forward and evolving through the tough conditions of the past year.
A big part of that has been being prepared to make hard decisions around costs while continuing to invest and strategically reposition themselves for the next economic cycle.
According to a Demystifying Data Report by Deloitte Access Economics and AWS, organisations in New Zealand that effectively harness the power of data can use it to grow their annual business revenue by 9.5 per cent.
This showed that getting data foundations right can also unlock tangible value for businesses, Samarasekera said. For large businesses with more than 200 employees, this is equivalent to $25 million in additional annual revenue.
“Improving data foundations includes building a data strategy, connecting siloed data across platforms, and integrating governance tools to control the access of data,” he said.
“Organisations also need to build data skills within their teams, which may involve upskilling current staff through on-the-job training and training courses or collaborating with organisations such as our extensive network of AWS Partners.”
As organisations increase their data maturity, it would transform how they go about solving problems and building customer experiences, which would lead to breakthroughs in all industries including healthcare, finance, retail trade, and manufacturing operations.
There were plenty of other benefits to upskilling employees.
Research by Gallup and AWS has revealed that workers with advanced digital skills -such as cloud architecture and software development - boost New Zealand’s annual GDP by $7.3 billion.
Organisations that employed these workers would also see significant benefits, with 21 per cent reporting rapid annual revenue growth (at least doubling) in the past year, and 67 per cent higher revenues than those with basic or intermediate digital-skilled workers.
“By investing in digital skills, companies will be better positioned to leverage advanced technologies such as generative AI, and accelerate their growth and innovation,” Samarasekera said.
“These days the speed of information flow is increasingly being matched by the speed of systems powered by AI and machine learning – which companies can leverage to build reputational safeguards and monitoring systems.”
These could cover not just external communications (the usual focus of reputation management strategies), but also operational areas with the potential to drive crisis scenarios - ranging from data and system security issues impacting operations to customer issues driven by social media conversation or bad actors.
“We believe AI and ML are capable of addressing some of humanity’s most challenging problems. Generative AI in particular is poised to have a profound impact across industries such as retail, advertising and marketing, healthcare and life sciences, and sustainability,” he said.
The Deloitte Top 200 Awards were established in 1990 and are held annually to recognise and applaud outstanding individual and management team performances among New Zealand’s largest companies and trading organisations.
The winners will be announced at the Top 200 awards and gala dinner on Wednesday, December 6.
The event will be livestreamed from 7pm on the NZ Herald website.
Last year’s winner of the Company of the Year was Vulcan Steel
Company of the Year finalists - sponsored by Amazon Web Services (AWS) New Zealand.
Infratil (CEO Jason Boyes)
Xero (CEO Sukhinder Singh Cassidy)
Tourism Holdings (CEO Grant Webster)
- This was produced in partnership with the Deloitte Top 200 Awards and sponsors