During the next five years, DiUS will continue to offer similar services but will do so alongside a portfolio of AI-enabled solutions, built to create more augmented and engaging experiences.
“Now we’re doing more and more IoT work where there's less players in that space and quite a few small bespoke data science shops,” Murray added.
“Our unique play is that we do the whole end-to-end offering with customer user experience, plus we do some dev ops as well as an agile approach to product management."
Pace of change
In taking a global view of the market, worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies - spanning hardware, software, and services - is expected to reach almost US$1.3 trillion in 2018, representing an increase of 16.8 per cent from 2017.
According to IDC research, the majority of spending this year (US$662 billion) will go toward technologies that support new or expanded operating models as organisations seek to make operations more effective and responsive by leveraging digitally-connected products/services, assets, people, and trading partners.
The second largest investment area (US$326 billion) will be technologies supporting omni-experience innovations that transform how customers, partners, employees, and things communicate with each other and the products and services created to meet unique and individualised demand.
Delving deeper, information will also be an important investment area (US$240 billion) as organisations strive to obtain and leverage information for competitive advantage through better decisions, optimised operations, and new products and services.
For Murray however, the trigger point for increased spend is simple.
“If you go back to the 1980s, Kodak actually invented the digital camera and they didn't innovate after that,” Murray added. “Then there is Blockbuster, who uses Blockbuster anymore?”
As explained by Murray, the advantage streaming giant Netflix had over Blockbuster, apart from being a big power player, was that it did not have large quantities of stores, taking advantage of being an online-only platform.
Closer to home, insurance provider Nib is an example of a business that doesn’t require bricks and mortar stores, yet chooses to provide a select few to cater for the needs of a varied customer base.
As a customer of DiUS, Nib offers digital services for most, if not all, its services, but recognised the importance of keeping a few shop fronts to allow customers who prefer the human touch to transact as normal.
DiUS worked with Nib to create Nibby, the company's chatbot. According to Murray, this was the first time an Australian health insurer introduced AI services to assist customers with health insurance enquiries.
“We wanted to test the hypothesis that using a chatbot could improve the customer experience and free up our live agent’s time, and we wanted to test the concept quickly - both from a technical and user perspective,” Nib CIO, Brendan Mills, said.
“By partnering with DiUS we were able to take an innovative idea and build it on top of our cloud platform. Together we moved through a proof of concept stage and into production in an agile manner to quickly deliver an improved customer experience.”
Given the advancements of AI and ML locally, Australia is witnessing professions that have avoided technology innovation for a long time, becoming disrupted almost overnight.
This might be the case with lawyers, because finding the right first-contact advice might now be achievable through the help of a chatbot.
For Murray, the industry is reaching a point in which AI can ask enough questions of people to be capable of providing the correct advice in return.
In addition, Murray also quoted Stanford professor Andrew NG, co-founder of Coursera - a venture-backed, education-focused technology company - who said, "pretty much anything that a normal person can do in less than one second, we can now automate with AI".
“It will be interesting to see if some of that gets disrupted," Murray added. “I feel like some of those professions have been hard to replace by traditional technology and I think we might see some movement in that in the next five to 10 years.”
In Australia, Murray has noticed a movement from fintechs in recent years towards digital adoption.
“A lot of fintechs have come around and I know the Big Four are also trying to embrace it because they can see that they are going to get disrupted,” Murray observed. “They're even funding their own disrupters, if that makes sense, because they know that if they don't somebody else will.”
Specific to customers, Murray said DiUS had two choices in the market.
First, remain with customers for the long-term and ensure financial stability. Or second, train the staff of customers and instead focus on new projects and explore emerging technologies as they remain relevant. The business picked the latter.
Murray said that small organisations might come to DiUS in order to get a start-up idea to market - the way DiUS works is that they will go into this company and start the project and then move on to train the staff.
“Eventually we'll start rolling their people through so they can start taking over it and eventually we will roll off," Murray added. “At the end of day, we got the thing up and running in a good healthy way, trained their people and eventually they get to have their own function.
“That way we can move on to the next thing so we are not caught on looking after something for five or ten years, which is tempting because there are financial benefits.
"But I also think that stops us from looking at the next thing and that takes a lot of energy. If you keep looking at the old stuff you can't focus on the new.”