The peak member body for the ICT industry in Australia has called on the new Malcolm Turnbull-led Liberal National Party Government to accelerate the transformation of the country to a digital economy, following a long, drawn-out Federal Election 2016.
With a nation now in agreement as to the benefits of electronic voting, the Prime Minister’s eventual claim for victory - following eight days of counting - now means Australia can focus on its next chapter, built around a greater need for innovation.
The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) believes such an agenda will help ensure the country is globally competitive and to drive growth and prosperity across the nation.
“Australia’s future is exciting,” AIIA CEO, Rob Fitzpatrick, said. “Digital technology is advancing rapidly, from smart phones that monitor your fitness, measure speed, height and distance, and remotely manage home thermostats and lights, to the way we manage our crops, cattle and mines, research cures for disease, manage city congestion, and deliver services to the most remote parts of our country.
“Without a doubt, digital technology will underpin our entire economy.”
Going forward, Fitzpatrick said the AIIA will work with the new Government, along with elected officials across all party lines, to help lift Australia’s prosperity and growth as a “matter of priority”.
“Given the world is rapidly changing, we must move fast to set our course or risk being left behind,” Fitzpatrick added.
“Australia’s prosperity hinges on our ability to innovate, which in turn will drive jobs, growth and importantly, our global competitiveness. And to innovate, we need the right environment with the right infrastructure in place.”
For Fitzpatrick, there are four key areas the Turnbull Government needs to prioritise, focusing on the development and maturity of Australia’s digital talent and skills base; business adoption and integration of digital technology; the delivery of high performing, competitive digital infrastructure; and digital transformation of Government.
“Forty-five percent of the jobs that we know of today will disappear in the next 15 years, and 75 percent of the jobs replacing these will require STEM skills,” Fitzpatrick explained.
To build the “world-class, data-driven workforce” needed for this future, Fitzpatrick called on the Turnbull Government to invest in a “coordinated approach” to STEM education, focusing the 300 plus disparate initiatives that exist today, encourage diversity in STEM, including women and mature aged workers, and improve ICT university graduate outcomes.
Fitzpatrick said going digital provides all businesses an opportunity to create new business models, reinvent core processes, improve efficiency, drive productivity and get closer to the customer.
“Digitisation must reach not just large global companies but also SMEs so that innovation, competition and growth can benefit all of Australia,” Fitzpatrick added.
“SMEs in particular are significantly underinvested in technology. They lack awareness of what options are available to them and they lack the capacity to implement changes even when they identify them, limiting the ability to grow their business.”
Consequently, Fitzpatrick also called for the Turnbull Government to drive business adoption of technology in a way that includes SMEs.
“The AIIA has laid out recommendations targeting this problem, including encouraging SMEs to use proposed tax cuts as an opportunity to invest in development of their digital capability, and development of education and training initiatives,” he explained.
According to Fitzpatrick, Australia’s future economic growth depends on all Australians and Australian businesses having access to fast, ubiquitous, and affordable Internet as soon as possible, with the onus now on the Turnbull Government to fast track access to world-class internet connections, including the NBN rollout and 5G wireless technologies.
“It is an undisputed fact that Australia is falling behind in broadband speeds, and the delay in improving our infrastructure is putting our economic prosperity at risk,” Fitzpatrick added.
“With increased broadband comes more innovation, more jobs, and greater economic growth.”
According to Deloitte, 40 percent of the estimated 811 million transactions conducted at the federal and state levels each year are still completed using traditional channels.
As the biggest spender of ICT services, Fitzpatrick said the Australian government should be the “exemplar of digital transformation”.
“This past election itself has been a great example,” Fitzpatrick added.
“With electronic voting in place, we would have known the outcome of the election far sooner and the electoral process would cost fewer taxpayer dollars to run in the long term.”