According to Shane Minogue, senior research manager at IDC, today's thinking about the benefits of digitisation barely scratches the surface.
"Today when we look at organisations, digital transformation is being used for productivity improvements and efficiencies in lowering cost, but it’s not really changing the strategy of companies," he said.
"By 2021, you’ll start to see companies really embrace digital transformation and third platform technologies across the organisation.
"They might be using 3D printing for aeroplane parts, AI and cognitive for planes taking off and landing, you may see them using AI for fuel efficiencies, data analytics for price optimisation and even drones for security. On the face of it, little has changed, but in the background, a huge transformation has taken place."
The research suggests that while 95 per cent of Kiwi organisations are aware that digital transformation is important, just seven per cent could be classified as leaders.
Minogue said the number one transformation challenge was a lack of skills and resources. Number two was siloed and resistant cultures that demanded "bottom up change".
Meanwhile, Microsoft national technology officer Russell Craig said organisations need to "free their data" from old legacy systems, embrace the cloud, and develop a strategy focused on adding value to customers.
"Organisations needed to develop a vision for what digital transformation meant for their organisations," he said. "They won’t transform in one giant leap."
Specifically, these focused on how to engage customers in new ways digitally; how to empower employees with data to create new kinds of services and offerings; how to optimise operations, and how to fundamentally transform products, taking a lead from "born in cloud" competitors such as Uber and Airbnb.
“New Zealand is on the digital transformation fast track," he said. "Organisations are increasingly deploying emerging technologies such as AI as part of their digital transformation initiatives, and that will accelerate growth even further."
Craig said these new technologies would only speed up workplace changes we are already familiar with as technology has eliminated jobs such as typists and photocopying departments with entirely new roles such as social media marketers.
New Zealand respondents to the iDC survey felt that 89 per cent of jobs will be transformed in the next three years due to digital transformation, and 65 per cent of job incumbents today would be redeployed to higher value roles or re-skilled.
The IDC survey was conducted with 1,560 business decision makers in organisations with more than 250 staff across 15 economies in the Asia-Pacific region, including 100 respondents in New Zealand.