Thriving in the transformative age

Research shows that leading companies are applying new customer insights into everything, from operating-model change to services-led product innovation that delivers customer-centric solutions

By Simon L. Barberi, Director, Advisory, at Ernst & Young

The world, not least Malta, is facing the fourth Industrial Revolution, aptly named Transformative Age, which is changing the way we work at an exponential rate. Technological advances are reshaping value chains, making people and information more accessible and redefining how work gets done.

At the same time, changing workforce demographics and employees’ shifting expectations of the work experience are challenging the traditional model of what it means to ‘go to work’ or ‘to have a job’.

How is your company positioned to respond to these trends?

The transformative age lends itself to holistic, integrated solutions. Research shows that leading companies are applying new customer insights into everything, from operating-model change to services-led product innovation that delivers customer-centric solutions. On a parallel but equally important track, thriving businesses create work environments that make employees look forward to coming to work.

These businesses generate a palpable buzz – a sense of energy and vitality that is attractive, enlivening, and stimulating.

This is the mindset that Maltese businesses need to inculcate in their corporate culture, thereby positioning themselves to reap the full benefits of the fast-paced technological environment and to adopt approaches that set them apart from the crowd.

The balancing act is at least as daunting as the challenges of the Transformative Age itself.

No matter where you fall on the laggard-to-leader spectrum, you haven’t completely missed the train. Every company has its own distinctive circumstances and challenges.

Every company has its own optimum strategy for moving forward and engaging the digitally enabled future. But each company is obliged to rigorously assess its present status and the universe of change options to be entertained.

Subsequently, each firm can piece together the most “balanced” package of change initiatives to enable it to get the most mileage out of its investments in the near-term and beyond.

The European Commission describes Malta as ‘the island known as a centre of technological expertise.’

On July 4, the Maltese parliament made history by passing three bills to set a regulatory framework and drive innovation in blockchain-like technologies with the express intent of attracting foreign financial tech companies to establish themselves in the country. Malta became the first world jurisdiction to provide legal certainty in this space – a certificate to the island’s adaptability to changing times.

The march in this Transformative Age continues. Artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, the Internet of Things and sharing economy platforms will create enormous displacements of labour.

Not all jobs will be affected, and not all affected jobs will be eliminated. Automation will both substitute and enhance human labour, but jobs that are truly unaffected will be the exception rather than the norm.

How does one plan for future business growth in the transformative age?

A healthy business environment is already in place. The next step calls for the understanding of what current investors think about one key question - is Malta attractive?

For the past fourteen years, EY’s Malta attractiveness survey has sought to answer this question by inviting existing foreign investors in Malta to provide their views. It forms part of EY’s global series gauging the perceptions and realities in the different countries and regions.

The series is aimed at providing guidance for investment decisions and indicators to governments and policymakers on current and potential barriers to growth.

Throughout the years, EY’s survey results have indicated that Malta has consistently remained attractive as a destination for FDI, notwithstanding the turbulent global economic and political environment.

Year on year, investors have highlighted the importance of protecting and retaining what already works in Malta, while keeping an eye on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

The 2018 attractiveness survey results will be unveiled on 24 October at EY’s Annual Attractiveness Event, this year aptly titled “Welcome to the Transformative Age”.

This year promises to deliver yet another insightful, innovative and engaging experience both for the 60 speakers and the close to 1000 participants. The event promises to take everyone on a journey transcending this Transformative Age, an age which we are collectively experiencing and living on a daily basis.

The aim of the event is to spark ideas and discussions centering on the massive paradigm shifts occurring across sectors and explore the potential to drive investment and shape the next wave of Malta’s growth.

For more information on EY’s Annual Attractiveness Event and to register, visit