Australia Digital Future 2050 Report

Australia Digital Future 2050 Report

A new report (Australia’s Digital Future Report 2050), commissioned by IBM provides a set of predictions on how digital will effect Australian industries and the overall economy by 2050. The report uses the term ‘the new utility’, to describe the combination of ICT, ubiquitous high speed broadband, analytics, learning systems, cloud computing and more that enables our digital future.

The comprehensive report considers all industry sectors in Australia and predicts that digital technologies will underpin future economic growth and productivity for the next 40 years. The key predictions for 2050 are that the new utility will:

• Transform our lives, work and health
• Enable national revenue will grow eight fold from $131 billion (3.3% of national revenue) to $1 trillion (18.8% of predicted national revenue)
• Allow one in four workers to work from home either part time or full time
• Substantially benefit 46% of industries
• Contribute to the demise of 15 industries unless they reinvent themselves

Our view is that the report provides a great insight into the potential for Australia if we embrace all that digital offers. We know from previous research including our own that many industry sectors in Australia lag other leading economies in their use of digital and in some cases, such as the retail sector’s reaction to the growth in overseas online retail, attempt to put barriers in place to protect their business from the overseas threat rather than using digital technologies to deliver business innovation and allow them to compete effectively.

Government also has a role to play in enabling the digital future for Australia. The economic environment must support companies to innovate as this enables new technologies to emerge and develop as well as improving productivity. There is a lot of energy and excitement in Australia around technology start-ups, but recently some high profile company founders have publicly commented (including this one in the Sydney Mroning Herald)that many successful start-ups have moved to the United States due to the lack of investment and other financial incentives in Australia.

Digital technologies provide great opportunities and benefits for business and will underpin our economy for the coming decades. But to realise the potential, digital needs to be put at the centre of business and government needs to create an environment to support this.

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