How Watkins Steel went from traditional steel fabrication to digital service provision

Prof Marek Kowalkiewicz presents at the CFE Forum.


Digital transformation is a challenge for enterprises across industries. Lacking the required resources and experiencing business inertia, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) struggle to utilize the digital economy’s potentials. In this presentation, we will discuss our research in this space, accepted for publication at Management Information Systems Quarterly Executive (MISQE). Complementing MISQE’s manifold accounts of prominent digital transformation success stories of tech companies and industrial giants, this article portrays an unexpected ability of a medium-sized steel fabricator, Watkins Steel (WS), to perform a large-scale digital transformation. The case offers unique insights into capitalizing on a rich yet underexplored opportunity space for SMEs that is constituted by a combination of augmentation and adjacency in digital transformation. The article reconstructs WS’s journey towards becoming a local industry leader in providing added and independent IT services through augmentation of its adjacent traditional business. To aid other SMEs in their attempts to embark on successful digital transformation journeys and reimagine their business prioritizing initiatives with a direct bearing on customer value while not departing from their core business, we highlight strategies, success factors, and lessons learned from WS’s digital transformation.


About Prof Kowalkiewicz:

Professor Marek Kowalkiewicz is an academic and industry leader with extensive experience in conducting research, co-innovating with industry and university partners, and delivering innovative products to the market. Currently, as founding director of Centre for the Digital Economy, he leads QUT’s research agenda to inform and influence a robust digital economy in Australia. He joined QUT from Silicon Valley, where he led innovation teams of one of the largest enterprise software vendors in the world. Before Silicon Valley, Marek worked in Singapore, Australia and China.

Marek manages a contemporary research portfolio and converts industry driven opportunities into research outcomes of global relevance. He is an invited government expert, university lecturer and project lead, as well as an inventor and author. Marek is recognised as a top quality manager and excellent public speaker and has an interest in working with stakeholders in developing innovative ideas, ground-breaking business applications and high-impact new technologies.


Location: GP-B-114
Start Date: 13/10/2021 [add to calendar]
Start Time: 12 noon
End Date: 13/10/2021
End Time: 1 PM
RSVP By: Wednesday 13th of October 2021
Organiser: The Centre for Future Enterprise
Enquiries: Anisa Hobaya -