Australian Government’s New Digital Strategy

Can Australia transform its digital fortunes?


Australia is in the midst of a period of digital disruption.

It is however struggling to come out the other end of it, with former News Corp Australia CEO, Kim Williams, stating, ‘[Australia] is not managing the change at all well’ and that ‘the opportunities will be infinitely larger and more interesting, [but] the journey is still in its infancy’.

This comes only a year or so after the Australian government embarked on an initiative to include lessons about technology on the school curriculum from foundation to year 8. To add to this, the Australian government has also pumped nearly AU$7 million dollars into higher education, with the hope that more students will take up IT related courses designed to help fill the talent gaps which currently exist in the Australian workforce.

Getting people online is not the problem, with most, especially in the country’s largest cities, having a reliable internet connection. The lack of coverage in more indigenous areas of the nation is still a problem, but it was addressed in 2013 as part of Australia’s strategy to reform itself to be ready for digital.

Whilst this is positive news, focusing on number of connections as a metric is somewhat shortsighted. Perhaps a more telling statistic was that only 30.2% of Australian businesses used the internet to take orders, with industries such as agriculture and finance insurance almost untouched by online ordering.

Here are a few eye-opening statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics;

- 6% of Australian Businesses had internally linked invoicing and payment systems

- 1% had linked logistics systems

- 4% had linked production and service operations

Although it’s difficult to ascertain much from these statistics, they are low, especially for a country as developed as Australia. If these percentages were to increase it’s probable that the nation would be home to more efficient companies, which could well help Australia overcome its problems with digital.

The country’s clearly going through a process of change at the moment and is planning accordingly. Its plans to roll out Wi-Fi to the indigenous areas of the nation, coupled with further education expenditure and medical benefits to allow patients to see their patients through video, should also put them on the right path - not to mention the government’s plea to companies to implement cloud computing and open data in their working operations.

As Kim Williams says, ‘We’re up for a fascinating ride’.


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