Burns spoke with Mining Journal in a series of interviews for the title's Mining Disrupted series of reports.
"There are so many sexy technologies," she said, adding it was easy to get lost in the technology.
"But you need to make a meaningful digital impact."
She said the two key areas for mining companies to focus on were optimisation of pit to port operations, and the interoperability of equipment and IT systems.
"If you're not focused on those two big ticket items, frankly you're wasting your time and your money and your effort and your fitness and your fortitude," she said.
Burns has also been surprised by the small number of miners addressing cybersecurity, or using digital technology in areas other than productivity, such as exploration.
As for the key skill sets missing from the average mining company's management/operating arsenal, Burns believes having "ambidexterity" -the ability to balance the old with the new - will be critical for future success.
"Being able to manage this new world of technology that's moving so quickly, together with the existing business and running that business, and to do that hand-in-hand," she explained.
She also went on a myth-busting quest as she outlined her view of the resources workforce of the future, with humans and machines intuitively collaborating.
On the line …
Accenture resources lead
Ann Burns leads Accenture's resources team for Australia and New Zealand. She joined the global management, consulting and professional services firm more than 20 years ago. She has worked with a diverse range of clients across Asia Pacific and says her real passion is in finding answers to the challenging questions that digital is asking. Prior to joining Accenture, Burns practised as an architect and worked in construction and international business development.
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