Tag Archives: digital disruption

digital disruption

Why digital disruption will create your next career

Like many of you I am waiting for digital disruption to make my job redundant so I can lean out, reclaim my work-life balance and let the robots do the rest.

As a journalist, my first thought was to see how digital disruption could work for me, so I looked for an artificial intelligence that could write this article for me (it couldn’t). But it came scarily close.

While so-called artificially intelligent chatbots are at best frustrating, programs such as Wordsmith can take sets of data and generate various articles based on simple coding of parameters, while stuffing a few synonyms in to sound like a genuine journalist.

Last week, an inaccurate post titled ‘The Trump Effect: It’s Happening Already!!’ went viral, and Facebook announced it would instigate third party fact checking to crack down on fake news. Imagine a world where AI could both check the accuracy of posts, but also one in which AI could generate endless streams of viral click bait.

Need a meeting? Download an artificial assistant like Amy from x.ai to contact your clients directly and discuss suitable times. All you do is turn up.

Fancy a bite to eat? Before long autonomous vehicles will be at your beck and call to escort you to your favourite restaurant or deliver a much-loved takeaway.

Work in a construction trade or manufacturing? Robotics and 3D printing can download, print and stack your bricks, scaffolds and planking, twist your toothpaste caps on and sort quality from flawed product.

What about a highly-paid, precision career such as surgery? Google is already working with Johnson and Johnson’s medical device company Ethicon on the next generation of surgical robots – research that is based on Google’s work in autonomous cars.

Chances are if you teach and/or work in academic research, you’ll already be aware of the possibilities of massive open online courses (MOOCs) and their potential for disrupting the way we learn, and allow access to our institutions. In four years, MOOCs have gone from zero to over 4,000 courses reaching around 35 million students.

Worried? You’re not alone, a PwC survey of CEO’s globally found 62% of 1300 surveyed were concerned about the impact of digital disruption in their industry. I recently heard a leader from the giant resources company BHP talking at the AFR Innovation Summit about being a recycler rather than a producer of steel after their disastrous 2015 downturn.

But if you think digital disruption means the robots are coming for your job, you’re wrong. While just under half of our jobs are expected to be at risk of automation in the next 10–15 years, for every disrupted career area, new opportunities arise. Like writing the programming software to create news stories or humanising the language used by AIs. By researching the signals that can make autonomous cars safer for pedestrians or by understanding the psychology behind creating incentives for innovation in your staff.

Where are we most at risk from missing the opportunities from digital disruption? Our team of thought leaders have the answers.

Heather Catchpole

Managing Director and Head of Content, Refraction Media

Read next: Head of KPMG Innovate, James Mabbott, uncovers the point of difference between those who remain resilient to change and those who get left behind.

Spread the word: Help Australia become digital savvy nation! Share this piece on digital disruptors using the social media buttons below.

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Women in STEM Thought Leadership Series here.

customer-led disruption

Remaining relevant in the digital age

Novelist William Gibson is credited with saying “the future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed”. 

This in a nutshell epitomises the challenge for mature businesses and industries. 

Their possible futures are being played out by the emerging digital versions of their existing selves. Smaller, more nimble competitors built on the infrastructure of tomorrow’s enterprises are using new tools and methodologies to disrupt established players. And they are able to do so unencumbered by legacy systems and processes of larger players.

For many in established businesses it is not a case of if but when in terms of the threat of digital disruption. But the phrase “digital disruption” hides a subtle nuance when discussing disruption in the context of business: disruption is actually a human story, not a tech one. 

Digital services and enterprises on their own do not disrupt established businesses. Rather digital services, technologies and business models enable your customers to disrupt you.

Take for example the rise of marketplace style businesses such as Uber and their impact on the incumbent taxi services. The simple fact of Uber’s existence did not in itself disrupt the taxi industry. But by offering a better customer experience, a more cost effective service and ease of use to the passenger, customer-led disruption was enabled.

If you were to look at the legacy business model for a taxi company in Australia, it focuses on the regulator, the operator and licence holder, and the driver – rarely does the passenger feature. Today, passengers can actively compare their taxi journey experience with that of the Uber model – and customers are voting with their digital wallets.

The key for incumbent large corporations to stay relevant is customer focus. This is not a new mantra – most of my working career has been spent in or working with organisations trying to achieve customer centricity.  What has changed in the last 10–15 years is the realisation that terms such as “customer ownership” are by and large meaningless. Customers are not owned. They are earned and need to be maintained. 

To do this requires an increasing emphasis on data to better understand customers and their needs. It means the use of customer journey mapping tools alongside this data to really explore the customer experience at every single touch point. It means the analysis of ethnographic studies to see how customers use products and services.

Most importantly, organisations need to bring the customer into every stage of the product development process. Old world, business case-driven product development processes need to be replaced with customer data and hypothesis-driven experiments. The product development process needs to include customer testing at every stage, from idea to prototype to final product. And this process needs to allow for customer feedback and for data to drive decision making and change along the journey.

Consumers’ experiences, and hence their expectations, are increasingly being shaped by the proximity, intimacy and aesthetic provided by their day to day interactions with a range of products and services being delivered digitally. Whether it is the beautiful simplicity of the Google search bar, the elegance of Apple design or the magic of Disneyland – the benchmark on customer experience – attraction and retention is being set globally. As a result, the customer experience needs to be judged not just against best in class for a particular industry or product segment, but against best in class – full stop.

Market leaders today who survive well into the future will look across industries in their response to digital disruption and adapt and change to the new, unevenly distributed future.

James Mabbott

KPMG partner and Head of KPMG Innovate

Read next: PwC’s Technology Innovation Leader, Dr Crighton Nichols, describes the tools that allow forward-thinking organisations to learn faster than their competitors. 

Spread the word: Help Australia become digital savvy nation! Share this piece on digital disruptors using the social media buttons below.

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Women in STEM Thought Leadership Series here.

disruptor

Disruptors in the digital age and how to be one

What does it take to be a disruptor? Over the last three decades there has been a surge in the number of smaller and nimbler organisations that have successfully unseated larger, more established organisations (including government backed institutions) to offer alternative solutions, features, products, commercial models or entire value chains.

We have all heard the names, but worth repeating (in no particular order) are companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, Alibaba, Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, Tesla, Mahindra, Apple, Xiaomi, IBM, Freelancer, Atlassian, Illumina, Salesforce, Philips, Cochlear, Bristol-Myers Squibb (and the list goes on). All are considered disruptors in their own right because they:

  • Offer new innovative solutions to solve existing unmet needs or problems that have traditionally been considered “too hard to solve” or “not worth solving”. For example, Cochlear (Nucleus Group) developed and commercialised the world’s first multi-channel Cochlear implant and in the process restored hearing to over 400,000 people. Bristol-Myers Squibb developed a drug to combat skin and lung cancer.
  • Offer a different, more compelling and/or commercially attractive alternatives to an existing solution. Xiaomi is beating Apple at its own game by offering technically comparable products at a lower price point, and is also well positioned to sell services directly to their customers or to Salesforce – beating Oracle in the CRM game.
  • Offer new solutions by creating the need (or better articulating the need) and providing engaging and addictive solutions to attract a whole new market. Google, Facebook, Uber and Spotify have all created completely new markets by offering solutions to meet the need for real-time mobile access to information or services, 24/7 connectivity with a social network and cost-effective solutions.

While all three categories above lead to disruption, the last two in particular have been happening more quickly and recently (over the last decade) and are typically attributed to  digital disruption. So then who can lay claim to being a digital disruptor? And is digital disruption a myth or reality?

disruptor

To help understand this let’s start with an attempt at a definition. For me, digital disruption offers a fundamentally better alternative to the present approach for solving a customer problem; in a cheaper, quicker, more convenient and more efficient manner; with technology and data playing key enabling roles to encourage customer participation.

It is not evolutionary change, but radical in the way it changes businesses, markets and societies.

All industries are prone to digital disruption – what differs is the timescale and impact. Some industries, such as music, entertainment and travel, have been impacted overnight.

Others change over a longer period of time, such as transport and healthcare. So if you’re looking to add ‘disruptor’ to your job skills, here are some of the key steps that you may want to consider before proceeding much further.

5 key steps for becoming a disruptor

  1. Get a connected, easy-to-use technology platform – you don’t need to build the next Facebook or Slack, but it sure helps if you have one that customers want to use willingly and can connect seamlessly across their journey of needs.

  2. Use a data processing and insights engine – I was tempted to use big data – but data doesn’t have to be big in order to derive meaningful insights.

  3. Keep the customer at the centre – the customer is a willing, active and vocal participant in the solution, which is designed around them.

  4. Ensure products and services are blended together – this is an area where many organisations falter – recognising when and how to offer products, services or a blended mashup of the two to meet customer needs.

  5. Use business and commercial models that make sense – the final hurdle for most larger companies looking to leverage digital disruption is that they focus on grabbing a bigger piece of the pie to offset their “disruption investment”, or too often pass on the cost to others down the value chain.

Having worked for businesses of different sizes, shapes and scale across the digital disruption spectrum, I have been fortunate enough to observe and actively influence the capacity of an individual, team, business unit or organisation to leverage digital disruption.

How do we leverage digital disruption?

By recognising, managing, mastering and exploiting nine key factors at play.

The following questions are designed to help you better understand your environment in order to be a positive disruptor, and manage the risks and issues it invariably creates.

Let’s start with the external factors

1. Your stakeholders and/or customers – Do you know who they are and are they happy with their current relationship with you; what relationship do they aspire with you; do you/they value that relationship; are you aware of their critical needs; do you give them opportunities to voice their opinions; do you act/respond based on their opinion?

2. Your offering – Is it meeting the critical needs of your stakeholders and customers; is it obvious why your offering makes sense; is it superior to other offerings; is it important/good enough to generate loyalty and advocacy; are the benefits visible and shareable; does it evolve with the customer needs?

3. Business and commercial model – How many intermediaries exist between you and the stakeholder/customer; who creates the most value; who are the primary beneficiaries in this business model; are there commercial incentives for all the players; is the commercial model sustainable?

4. Market Players & Competitors – Who are the main market players; who are the key competitors; how differentiated are their offerings to yours; who are the likely disruptors?

Now let’s investigate the internal factors

5. Clearly articulated sense of purpose (sometimes referred to as vision) – Is the statement of purpose clear; what can you do to contribute to this; is there universal buy-in on this sense of purpose; does it pass the reality test; is there a clear mandate for change?

6. Culture of innovation and experimentation – Is innovation seen as a niche role; how easy is it to experiment on yourselves/stakeholders/customers; do the people, processes and systems support innovation; speed and experimentation; how far can you take an idea before it gets stopped/scrutinised; how high is the risk appetite to disrupt yourselves?

7. Collaboration with partners and experts – Is it easy to collaborate; are there incentives for collaboration; do you have well identified customer champions; do the people, processes and systems support collaboration; do you have access to experts from similar/different industries?

8. Resources and Experience – Do you recruit from outside your industry; do you have a good mix of digital natives and “status quo” folks; is digital seen as a new and exciting capability or as an integral part of your business; is it hard to get funding, resources or sponsorship for new initiatives? 

9. Platform and Data – Have you created a platform for your offerings; is it easy to use; can you plug-in services from other providers; do you have an active plan to manage the data and derive insights from it?

Once you answer these questions you are on your way to joining the ranks of a digital disruptor transforming the marketplace. The often used mantra in the modern business lexicon is “Change is the only constant”. Digital disruption is no exception as it drives and demands significant changes to fundamental assumptions, the status quo, customer expectations, competition, technology, organisational design, complacency and the value chain. In doing so, it creates a new set of risks such as:

  • the potential to disrupt yourself;
  • competition from smaller and more agile players;
  • a whole new level of scrutiny around privacy, security and legal issues;
  • the ability to manage and protect Intellectual Property; 
  • creating inertia driven by uncertainty.

But if you can overcome them the opportunities are significant:

  • opening up new models for value creation;
  • reduce the cost/time for success (or failure);
  • building direct relationship with customers (and build loyalty);
  • being able to compete in a global economy regardless of location;
  • attracting and motivating a high calibre team.

disruptor

In summary, digital disruption is real. A disruptor is no doubt emerging near you and your industry and will result in significant changes to how you interact with your customers and stakeholders.

How can you be a disruptor?

  • Know and build a meaningful relationship with your customer;
  • Accept the blurred lines between product and service;
  • Adopt an ecosystem approach to delivering products and services;
  • Taking a long-term view of success with short term milestones;
  • Be willing to make mistakes and change course;
  • Be prepared to partner and make clear and timely decisions;
  • Build an agile, multi-disciplinary team capable of moving fast;
  • Use data to deliver insights and inform decisions but don’t be a “data-slave”;
  • Stay authentic and relevant in an increasing connected and fragmented world.

The next question is whether or not businesses of today will choose to adapt to this new world or die a slow death by a thousand digital cuts. 

Vishy Narayanan 

Global Digital Transformation Executive

@vaporvish

Read next: Swinburne University’s Beth Webster, Mitchell Adams and Stephen Petrie track the impact of digital disruption on industries that were once considered impervious to technological takeover.

Spread the word: Help Australia become digital savvy nation! Share this piece on digital disruptors using the social media buttons below.

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Women in STEM Thought Leadership Series here.

blockchain disruption

Blockchain – dark tech or economic win?

Clayton Christensen is credited with coining the term “disruptive technology” in his 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail.

Christensen writes: “disruptive technologies bring to a market a very different value proposition than had been available previously”.

Some of the best-known cases of disruptive technology include the displacement of offset printing by digital printers and stock exchanges being replaced by electronic communication networks.

In the future, blockchain disruption is set to impact multiple sectors in the economy, such as currency transactions, stock exchanges and even precious stone transactions.

The practical impact of blockchain is that once a transaction has been initiated, the transaction record is simultaneously available to all parties and historical data cannot be altered without broad agreement from the network. This removes the costly and time consuming process of reconciling transactions or other data externally, giving blockchain the potential to make interactions more efficient, less expensive and safer.

Blockchain disruption started coming into people’s consciousness when Blockchain appeared as the underlying platform supporting the crypto-currency Bitcoin, which was somehow implicated in transactions in the shadow world – the “dark web”.

However, like many of the examples in Christensen’s book, it is when innovations transcend their early applications that the real power is obvious. And that is already starting to occur. In late October this year, the Australian Financial Review reported that a shipment of 88 bales of cotton from the US represented “the first time that two independent banks have used a combination of blockchain, smart contracts and the internet of things to facilitate a trade transaction”.

For blockchain to continue to demonstrate its legitimacy in the world beyond the shadows there must be trust and confidence in the system. These will come once market-based and technical challenges are overcome, and include having:

  • a system of international standards that are compatible with regulations and controls in financial systems;
  • clear guidelines for building blockchain applications;
  • relevant privacy and security measures;
  • interoperability between different blockchains to facilitate competition and support innovation.

The need for standardisation in the use of blockchain technology, and international standards in particular, has been recognised by several Australian stakeholders, including the Treasury, the Department of Industry Innovation and Science, the Council of Financial Regulators, Fintech Australia and the ASX. In collaboration with Standards Australia, Australian stakeholders will play a leading role in the development of international standards through the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

The standards to be developed will cover:

  • terminology;
  • process and method;
  • privacy;
  • cybersecurity;
  • interoperability.

In September 2016, ISO approved the establishment of a new technical committee for blockchain – ISO/TC 307 Blockchain and electronic distributed ledger technologies – that will be Chaired by an Australian expert with Standards Australia taking the secretariat. Already 30 other countries have indicated their interest including the UK, US, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Finland and Singapore.

I believe that leading the ISO blockchain committee will place Australia in the perfect position to help inform, shape and influence the future direction of international standards to support the rollout and deployment of blockchain technology in this era of blockchain disruption.

Dr Bronwyn Evans

CEO, Standards Australia

Chair, Industry Growth Centre for Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals

Read next: Sanjay Mazumdar, CEO of the Data to Decisions CRC, takes a look at what the national security sector can learn from Big Data disruption.

Spread the word: Help Australia become digital savvy nation! Share this piece on digital disruptors using the social media buttons below.

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Women in STEM Thought Leadership Series here.

national security data

Disrupting terrorism and crime

When people think about digital disruption they usually think of the peer-to-peer accommodation network AirBnB, or the inexpensive ride-sharing app Uber. These businesses have redefined their respective markets – with big data analytics1 underpinning their success.

Despite the fear that disruptive tech will bring with it new threats to security, Australia’s national security has much to benefit from the type of disruption brought about by big data – particularly when it comes to fighting terrorism and crime.

The national security sector faces the most imminent and complex big data challenges. This is because a powerful weapon of today’s terrorist or criminal is their ability to hide in data. They can plan and coordinate an attack or crime with impunity.

The ability for criminals to “hide in data” means that national security agencies are often faced with the daunting task of finding the “needle in the haystack” – where the haystack is growing at a phenomenal rate. In fact, people often comment that national security data analysts are “drowning in data, but starving for information”.

Big data analysts often need to find connections in vast, disparate volumes of data, where connections are imperceptible to humans but can be discovered using smart analytics and machine enablement.

The challenge is made greater by the wide variety of data sources (e.g. texts, voices, images, videos), the ever-increasing size and scale of the data collected, and the organisational and legislative silos impacting data agencies.

The effect of big data means that national security data analysts often spend most of their time collecting data, formatting it for analysis and generating reports, and less of their time doing the analysis. This is referred to as the “bathtub curve”.

The application of big data analytics is aimed at “inverting the bathtub”, which means automating the collection and processing of data to form intelligence. The generation of intelligence reports can also be automated via digital technologies, which enables analysts to spend more time analysing intelligence and making decisions.

The D2D CRC is developing applications to maximise the benefits that Australia’s national security sector can extract from Big Data. They are helping agencies generate timely and accurate intelligence as a powerful weapon against national security threats.

By addressing their big data challenges and applying high-performance analytics, the D2D CRC hopes it can support agencies in predicting threats rather than reacting to catastrophic aftermath. 

Sanjay Mazumdar

CEO, Data to Decisions CRC

Read next: Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Dr Amanda Caples, reveals the major flaw in traditional government approaches to disruption. 

Spread the word: Help Australia become digital savvy nation! Share this piece on digital disruptors using the social media buttons below.

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Women in STEM Thought Leadership Series here.

1 Big data is a term for any collection of data sets so large and complex they becomes difficult to store, process and analyse using current technologies. Big data analytics is the process of examining these data sets to uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations, trends and other useful business information. 

How can governments assist businesses

Keys to success in a disruptive environment

Governments promote and invest in science and technology to drive productivity for growth and jobs in the longer term. In this context, digital technologies have been the most profound enablers of the modern era.

Many of the impacts of digital technologies have been positive, replacing unsafe or low value work with the creation of adjacent higher-value jobs. However, many firms have failed to understand the impact of digital technologies on their core business. In most cases, businesses have been “disrupted” by new products and services that customers prefer.

Industries that are most ripe for disruption are those that have neglected to invest in the relationship with their customer base. This is why major corporates are investing in digital transformation strategies – to improve service and build customer loyalty in a society where a greater set of options are increasingly available to the consumer through digital services.

At the same time, governments are seeking to engage with citizens in more effective ways. Great economic gains can be made by better coordination of public services and this is typically achieved through the use of digital services.

How can governments assist businesses to prepare for change?

Traditionally, government innovation policies have focused on inputs (science and technology) and government levers (infrastructure, skills, regulation), rather than improving awareness that innovation is a dynamic feedback process driven by the customer and enabled by technology.

Repositioning innovation as a strategic response to a change in customers needs (or wants) will be important in raising the innovation performance and resilience of all businesses across the economy. 

A heightened level of understanding of how customer demand will drive uptake of technology will also be important at the individual level as machine learning and artificial intelligence start to impact highly skilled professions. The proposition from some thought leaders in our community – that jobs in the economy may undergo major shifts every 5–10 years – is plausible. We need to prepare our workforce with the capability for such a scenario, even if we are not certain when it may arise.

Central to such preparation is lifting the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) proficiency of our society. This is why Federal and State Governments have a particular focus on STEM education.

In parallel, governments are acutely aware that rapid technological change can have social and ethical implications that need to be understood and managed as best we can. There is no question that the “future of work” will be a hot topic in 2017 and one that will require the input of a broad section of the community.

Dr Amanda Caples

Lead Scientist, Victoria

Read next: Director of the Psychology Network, Professor Joachim Diederich, explores the artificially intelligent psychology services that are available anytime, everywhere.

Spread the word: Help Australia become digital savvy nation! Share this piece on digital disruptors using the social media buttons below.

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Women in STEM Thought Leadership Series here.

autonomous vehicles

Driverless cars disrupting industries and lifestyle

On a recent visit to the USA, I came across several professors and entrepreneurs who held the view that autonomous vehicles would be “an invention with greater significance than the original invention of the automobile”.  

Seeing many of the world’s earliest automobiles in person, at the enlightening Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, I saw how their design was derived from either a bicycle dispensing with the rider, or a buggy dispensing with the horse.

Autonomous vehicles can be a lot more than just dispensing with the driver. They provide an opportunity for radical rethinking of design and usage.

Massive changes are set to occur in the automobile industry, with many people already choosing to buy rides instead of cars. The continuation of this trend will see today’s car manufacturers and dealerships, rental car companies, taxi companies, ride-sharing companies, bus companies, pickup and delivery services, intercity transportation entities and other transportation services morph into fresh entities with new business models.

Rides will be significantly cheaper than today’s taxis and Ubers, because the major cost – the driver – will be eliminated. For many, it may be financially unattractive to own a car.

Significant lifestyle changes will also be possible. Commuting will no longer be about driving, but focused instead upon working, studying, socialising, entertaining, sleeping, dining and business meetings. Perhaps some rides will be free, funded by face-to-face selling and marketing.  

Long distance commuting will have less of a lifestyle impact, but rural and regional transportation will become more integrated. Travelling between meetings will be quicker and more efficient. The elderly and disabled will be more mobile, with no fears of driving on busy roads and no parking problems.

Think about your current daily activities and how driverless cars will change them! You’ll choose what type of car you need, when you need it, and you’ll travel efficiently. New patterns of life, leisure, work and commuting will emerge. 

With major growth predicted in our cities over the next few decades, pollution-free autonomous vehicles will be a relief in terms of congestion and amenity.

What happens in our cities when all cars become driverless? Roads will carry up to 3-6 times more traffic. Tailgating may be encouraged for less drag, heightened fuel efficiency and maximum utilisation of road real estate. Speed limits will increase, as will lane channelling during peak hours. Cars will no longer need to park on streets meaning defacto clearways, 24/7.  Extra lanes could be added to freeways by making existing lanes narrower. Traffic lights may become superfluous. Cars will reroute depending upon congestion.

Most importantly, roads will be safer, helping to eliminate most of the 34,000 accidents in Australia today at an annual health cost of $16 billion. There will be no guardrails needed if autonomous vehicles are accident free. No acoustic barriers required if all cars are electric. No more driving offences, meaning no fines, no points, fewer police. Drink and drug driving will be eliminated, as will driver distraction from mobile phones. If autonomous cars can see and sense better than humans, and drive without distraction, then pedestrians may be safer as well.

If every car is driverless, we can totally rethink our infrastructure. But the transition won’t come without challenges. How will older cars, driver assisted and driverless cars all coexist in the short to medium term? Will older cars have their own lanes, roads, circuit tracks or specific hours of use? Will they be tolled more to discourage people from driving cars?

For the evolution to autonomous vehicles, digital technology and disruption processes have been converging, resulting in precision GPS, 3D mapping, odometry, deep learning, computer vision, ultrasonic sensors, LiDAR, radar, driver assist options, smartphones, ride sharing and much more new tech. 

The driverless car transition will take several decades with a step-by-step approach. Australia has the opportunity to become a global leader in several fields including design, technology, infrastructure, specialist systems and fitout. There are vast opportunities for innovation and technology for associated spin-off and support industries.

Hollywood’s driverless cars such Herbie (‘The Love Bug’ in 1969) and K.I.T.T. (David Hasselhoff’s ‘Knight Rider’ in 1980) no longer seem like far-fetched dreams. Soon we can turn these dreams into reality for new lifestyles, improved amenity and new industries for Australia.

Simon Maxwell

Managing Director, Information Gateways

Read next: Heather Catchpole, Managing Director of Refraction Media, explains why digital disruption will create your next career.

Spread the word: Help Australia become digital savvy nation! Share this piece on digital disruptors using the social media buttons below.

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Women in STEM Thought Leadership Series here.

AI psychologists

AI psychologists are ready now

The Psychology Network has created one of the world’s first AI psychologists, an artificial ADHD coach called Amy. 

While communication is changing all around us, psychological practice has not fundamentally changed for more than a hundred years. Psychologists deliver services by talking to people in an office environment or out in the field.

While the nature of psychological assessment and therapy may have changed over the years, the formal setting has not: a professional (the psychologist) and a client generally talk one-on-one or in the presence of others.

However, with the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace, the delivery of psychological services is set to change dramatically. Mobile phone apps, for instance, can analyse speech and language to detect indicators of depression and provide instant feedback to both psychologists and clients.

AI psychologists available around the world, 24/7

Although online versions of cognitive-behaviour therapy have been available for more than a decade, what is emerging now are “AI psychologists” – programs that are empowered by vast knowledge bases on mental health and how to solve very human problems.

These programs talk to people in ways that are almost indistinguishable from the ways that human psychologists do. Importantly, they are available anytime, everywhere (on your mobile phone, for example) – and they cost as little as $2/hr. This is psychological expertise on tap, 24/7.

But can psychological therapy work without a shared human experience? Will it be possible for a client to form a bond that is assuring and goes beyond simply using a mobile app? 

I think so. By way of example, a few weeks ago I drove a rental car through a large European city – a place I was visiting for the first time. Given peak hour traffic, narrow streets and a lot of construction, the experience would have been enough to trigger high stress levels. However, I learned to trust the re-assuring voice of my navigation system and the whole experience was as stress-free as I could have hoped for.

Although this is not an example of an AI system, it illustrates the commonplace experience of a machine-generated voice inducing relaxation in a stressful context.

Can humans compete with AI psychologists?

The voices of AI psychologists are now for sale. It is difficult to see how human psychologists can compete with AI psychologists that offer cost-effective coaching and therapy around the clock to thousands of clients at the same time.

By way of example, Tess is a “psychological AI” developed by X2AI, Inc., a corporation based in Delaware. According to X2AI, the program “administers highly personalised psychotherapy, psycho-education, and health-related reminders, on-demand, when and where the mental health professional isn’t”.

Furthermore, the company states that “interaction with Tess is solely through conversation, exclusively via existing communication channels, such as SMS, Facebook Messenger, web browsers, and several other platforms.” And the current patient fee is $US1 per patient/month.

Meet Amy, AI ADHD coach

Amy is an artificial Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) coach developed by the Psychology Network Pty Ltd. Amy has extensive medical and psychological knowledge and the built-in capacity to acquire additional knowledge from mental health experts, which she goes on to apply in her coaching.

Amy’s primary mode of communication is conversation. However, she also provides videos, images and text to educate her users. During conversation, Amy analyses mood problems from the speech and language of its clients. Her knowledge bases are updated frequently to include the latest facts about mental health and ADHD, plus the clinical experience of practicing psychologists.

How does Amy work?

Let’s assume the user experiences challenges such as restlessness and concentration problems. The corresponding symptoms trigger a problem solving process conducted by Amy, the AI system.

The goal is obviously to reduce or eliminate these symptoms but in psychology, it is never that simple. We also want the user to be safe, we want to avoid relapses, and we generally support multiple goals including integration into a family or other social network, and a lifestyle that is healthy and productive.

Amy uses “heuristic search” to determine a path from the starting state (symptoms) to multiple goals states. The path – made up of intermediate states – consists of a selection of psychological methods that have proven useful, such as brain training and relaxation techniques.

All of this is textbook artificial intelligence. The first AI problem solvers were developed more than 50 years ago. What is new is the availability of vast knowledge bases such as SNOMED and YAGO, which can be used as background knowledge. In addition, AI systems can learn how to solve people’s personal problems from human psychologists.

What’s next for psychology?

Psychological practice, as we know it, is a thing of the past. The question is, how can professionals and organisations adjust?

There are still parts of psychological therapy that should not be automated, such as assessing the risk of self-harm. Furthermore, AI systems are hungry for knowledge and the best systems do not only include machine learning but human expertise as well.

There are many opportunities for practicing psychologists to contribute to the development of specialised AI psychologists.

Dr Joachim Diederich

Director, Psychology Network Pty Ltd

Honorary Professorial Fellow, Centre for Mental Health, University of Melbourne

Honorary Professor, School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, University of Queensland

Read next: Managing Director of Information Gateways, Simon Maxwell, paints a picture of what future living will look like in the era of autonomous vehicles. 

Spread the word: Help Australia become digital savvy nation! Share this piece on digital disruptors using the social media buttons below.

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Women in STEM Thought Leadership Series here.

the cloud

The cloud: understanding opportunities

This is an edited transcript of a speech titled, ‘The cloud: understanding opportunities and challenges’, which was delivered by Dr Balan-Vnuk to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) in May 2016.

The conversation I’d like to have with you is around, “What is the cloud?” – but more importantly, “What is the potential of the cloud to power your business, and what innovation is available to you?”

I’d like to take you back about 150 years, to the invention of the steam locomotive. You can imagine that back in the 1860s people were used to horse drawn carriages – it was nice and quiet, and things moved at a certain pace. And then all of a sudden you had these upstarts with brand new technology that was quite frankly loud, scary and sometimes exploded.

People didn’t understand this new technology – they didn’t understand how steam worked – and so they were incredibly scared and incredibly nervous.

I’m not sure how many of you are aware of the Red Flag Act that was passed in 1865. The most intriguing aspect of that Act was the fact that someone had to walk 60 yards in front of a locomotive with a red flag to warn everyone that it was coming.

I think sometimes we might be a little bit like those folks who saw the first steam locomotive when we come across the cloud. What is it? We don’t understand it. Is it scary? How will it help me?

Embracing a safer future

If we fast forward about 150 years, we see these beautiful new driverless cars that, quite frankly, we would like to drive in. And the reason I think driverless cars are so incredibly important is because the car will be able to brake and react faster than any one of us in the room can.

How does that work? Through hundreds of sensors placed on the car – the tyres, the body of it – testing what surface that car is driving on? Is it bitumen, gravel, or sand? Is it wet, dry, or is there an oil slick? What objects are around that car? Are they stationary, are they moving? Are they moving towards the vehicle? It will react as it needs to in order to keep us safe.

But not only that. This data is also being sent up to the cloud. It’s being aggregated, analysed, dissected and the learnings are being sent back to every single other driverless car so that everyone can benefit from the same learnings to be safe.

My two girls are eight and six, and I’m pretty sure they’ll still get their driver’s licence. Not long after that we’ll probably be driving for fun, taking the car out for a spin, because these cars will actually keep us safer and get us places we need to go in a much more effective manner.

But not everyone has the luxury of having a Tesla, or a beautiful driverless car, for that matter.

Building solutions for those who can’t

I’d like to take you to somewhere very different, to a woman in a Sudanese refugee camp carrying a very heavy load of sticks, who is quite obviously pregnant. Unfortunately this is a scene we’d see in many parts around the world, including Australia. People who have no access to education, to healthcare, to sanitised water; they are at a real disadvantage, and their lives could be at risk.

Two medical students came across some really important information. Maternal anaemia accounts for 20% of maternal deaths globally. And that, in stark figures, is around 115,000 women every year dying from what is actually a preventable disease or condition.

These two students didn’t stop there. Of course the most reliable way to test, “Have I got anaemia?” is through a blood test. But if you can’t do that, the colour of the inside of your eyelid will apparently give a pretty good indication as to whether or not you might be anaemic.

And so these two students – not fazed by the question of, “How do I access technology?” – built a solution on the cloud. In fact, they built a selfie app.

They built an app where you hold on to your eyelid and, with the right lighting conditions, you take a photo of the inside of your eyelid. It gets sent up to the cloud, analysed, aggregated, and then the results come back to you and tell you the probability of you being anaemic.

Now, imagine you’re up in the Coober Pedy, APY lands, you’re pregnant, your nearest doctor is a few hundred kilometres away. You’d want to be able to tell pretty quickly if you’re anaemic and you need some medical assistance.

So these two students from Melbourne won Microsoft’s global Imagine Cup Competition, which is about young people solving solutions of the world using technology. They spent time with Bill Gates and Satya Nadella and they’re well on their way to commercialising that application.

This is the true power of the cloud. It’s the democratisation of technology.

You don’t have to be a BHP employee or an FBI agent or a NASA whiz to access really complex sophisticated technology. You can now access the bits you need to solve the problems that you’re interested in solving.

Blurring the lines between the digital and the physical realms

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is incredibly topical. I would direct you to read an article by Klaus Schwab, who’s one of the co-founders of the World Economic Forum. Schwab really defines the fourth industrial revolution as this blurring between the digital and the physical spheres.

I’m not wearing one, but has someone got a Fitbit on? Or Garmin, a Health Band? We’re using these devices now; it’s testing our heart rate, whether we slept well, whether we’re getting enough exercise. If it’s not already connected to health insurance providers, it’s in progress. Maybe they’ll give me a rebate because I exercise every day.

All of this information about our physical condition is now being sent up to the cloud so we can learn from it. But there are some other really fundamental changes that are happening in this period.

Reaching a market value of $1 billion

It used to take a company around 20 years to reach $1 billion in market valuation. Think about Snapchat and Airbnb; it took them two to three years respectively to reach $1 billion dollars’ worth of valuation.

I can promise you they didn’t do it by signing up and by building on-premises infrastructure. They leveraged the power of the cloud to build a truly global innovative solution that solves major challenges.

Let’s refer to a pyramid, a model you’re all familiar with: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s from humanistic psychology and really saying, look, for us to evolve as people, as humans, we need to get the basics right. The basics are food and shelter. Then once I’ve got that I feel secure, I’ve got a safe place to be. Then I have friends, family, I have intimacy in my life. At that point I’m confident, I’ve got self-esteem, people respect me. And at that point I can really realise my own full potential.

So I’d like to make a comparison to that model, as a framework for thinking about what the cloud can deliver for you and your organisation.

Recognising what the cloud can deliver for your organisation

The very first layer (and this is not discounting the fact that many organisations have on-premises infrastructure, and it’s likely that’s going to have to stay. You’ve got mainframes, there is old legacy technology that needs to stay where it is, and that’s fine. But there are certainly new ways to take advantage of what the cloud is doing.)

The first layer, which is Infrastructure as a Service, we kind of like to call the plumbing. That’s the servers, it’s making sure you’ve got geo-redundancy, you’ve got the patching in place; that the system and the environment itself is healthy and operating successfully.

For many people this is the first step; they’re taking the infrastructure they’ve got on-premises or with a hosting provider and they’re moving it to a cloud that’s global and scalable. But it doesn’t stop there.

The next one is Platform as a Service. One of the Chief Information Officers I work with in the South Australian government said to me, “Look, I’ve got a great information technology (IT) team – fabulous. But they’re busy running IT. I want them to deliver business value. I don’t want them patching servers. I want them working on the business applications that deliver value to our internal stakeholders and to our citizens and our customers”.

So Platform as a Service is really saying, “Someone else takes care of all of the plumbing. I just need it to work, and I build my intellectual property (IP) and my value on top of that”.

Now, getting to Software as a Service, who’s using Twitter, LinkedIn, Hotmail, Gmail? Everyone. That software is a service. It’s there. You sign in, you log in, you use it for what you need to and then you sign out again.

And now this is a really interesting point. If you think about the two medical students, their product is called Eyenaemia. That is Software as a Service. They can make that globally available to anyone and they can earn some money from it.

Equally established businesses now would consume Software as a Service for a customer relationship management solution, or for a productivity and collaboration platform. But equally you can develop services that you can sell and thus create a new business model for your organisation.

Building value from a template

Now, where I think it gets really exciting, is when we start talking about things like machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). What’s really important about all these things? This is about the commoditisation of data science.

This doesn’t mean we don’t need data scientists. We desperately need more data scientists. But what we then need these people to do is to build value on top of a template.

Why start from scratch if you need to build a fraud detection system? Take a template that exists and customise it with your domain knowledge and expertise, and tailor that for your internal organisation.

Your time to value is incredibly fast, because you’re not starting from scratch. All of the grunt work has been done. You tailor and customise.

There’s an amazing amount of data we’re getting; data could be seen as the new oil in terms of an unlimited resource. It’s how we harness it, and how we use it to glean insights that we’d otherwise have no idea even exist.

Hailing the democratisation of technology

And the part I guess I get most excited about is artificial intelligence. This is where you start to see really interesting things such as conversation as a platform. What does that mean?

Say I’ve got a claim; I don’t want to get on the phone to talk through it because I know I’m going to be on hold for about an hour or two or three. Instead I go to the company’s website. There’s a little bot there that says “chat”. I start to have a conversation.

That’s not a person sitting there. That’s artificial intelligence learning what the intent is behind the questions that people are posing, and responding and trying to probe to give me the information that I need in response. We’re going to see more and more of this, and there are some amazing new APIs and ways of testing and experimenting.

This is true democratisation of technology. You don’t need to be a big player to access this technology and build the billion-dollar data centres. Anyone, students, start-ups, existing businesses, everyone can test this and try it out and see how it works.

So hopefully that gives you a framework of how we see the evolution and the growth of the cloud, and I’m sure there will be more layers above that, which we haven’t even invented yet.

Experimenting within your organisation

If we boil it down to real essentials, the business leader is there to grow profit for the organisation, to retain and grow shareholder value. If you’re a government agency, it’s about delivering effective and efficient customer and citizen services.

How do you do that? With the speed of change that we’re in at the moment, you need to really be very proactive and agile in grasping the opportunities the cloud presents to you.

I’d like to share an example of how some organisations are creating that petri dish of experimentation within their organisation.

I think many of you would know Zara, the fashion house. Their manufacturing line runs at 75% capacity. And you might say, “Well, that’s corporate suicide. Why only run at 75%?”

There’s method behind their madness. When I go into their store, there are video cameras tracking what I’m doing. They’re watching what I look at. They’re watching what clothes I take off the hanger and what clothes I put back. When I walk into the change rooms, what clothes do I choose not to buy?

And you know what? The staff are trained to ask me, and I say, “Well, I didn’t like the jacket, the way the lapel sat, the colour wasn’t quite right”. And they will go back and actually redevelop and redesign their clothes on a four weekly cycle so that they’re much more closely attuned to what their customers want.

In this way, 75% capacity is perfect, because it gives them room and flexibility to be agile and to meet the needs of the customers that they want.

Remembering the value of people

What about our people? It’s challenging in a very, very fast moving time. Our lives, personal and professional, are blurring incredibly. I don’t know how many of you check your phone in the morning for email, check it late at night for email, and maybe in the day you’re doing something personal. Our lives are really blending together.

And so how do we help our people make sure that they don’t get lost in this cacophony? Some of our colleagues out there in the IT space are quite nervous because in reality this means a ton of change for the way that they operate and the way they deliver services and value back to the business.

So I would like to do a very shameless plug for one of our start-ups in Adelaide called Teamgage. They work with us through the Microsoft Innovation Centre.

The team was founded by some people who worked in some incredibly toxic teams. And it was a miserable work environment. And we all know the story: people join companies and they leave managers.

Their premise was, “Well, hang on. Surely if the manager knew or the team leader knew how toxic the environment was, they could have done something about it”.

So they’ve created this amazing 20 second survey. And it truly only takes 20 seconds – we’re piloting it in the Adelaide office, for the team to give feedback.

A dashboard gives me colour charts to see “How is my team feeling?” We take this to our branch meetings and we discuss as a team what the challenges are. What do we need to change? What do we need to address and do differently?

This is an amazing organisation, Teamgage, building an incredible solution, Software as a Service, on a platform where they don’t care what the infrastructure is. They only care about being able to develop their application to serve customers around the world, not just in Adelaide.

Taking advantage of cloud opportunities

We are riding this incredible wave of opportunity. There’s a ton of change. Some organisations are going to coast along the crest of that wave to amazing success. And some others are not going to make it.

We all know the Kodak example. They didn’t make it because they didn’t innovate, they didn’t challenge themselves, they didn’t disrupt themselves and say, “Someone else is going to cannibalise my business, well, I’d better do it first, otherwise I’m totally out of business”.

So as business leaders, as new business leaders and students, really the onus is actually on you to experiment and to try to see how can you take advantage of these technologies for your own business benefit – by delivering profit, shareholder value, and great citizen services that we all expect from our government.

Dr Eva Balan-Vnuk

State Director for South Australia, Microsoft

This speech was first published by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA). Read the original text and more of CEDA’s top 10 speeches on disruption and innovation here

Read next: CEO and Managing Director of Blackmores, Christine Holgate, looks at innovation that goes beyond the digital realm.

Spread the word: Help Australia become digital savvy nation! Share this piece on digital disruptors using the social media buttons below.

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Women in STEM Thought Leadership Series here.

Careers with Code 2016

New Zealand welcomes Careers with Code

Featured image above: Google software engineers Edwina Mead and Sara Schaare, who graduated from the University of Canterbury and the University of Waikato. Credit: Lauren Trompp, Careers with Code 2016

The Minister for Innovation, the Hon Steven Joyce, launched the inaugural New Zealand edition of Careers with Code in front of an audience of students and educators at Kapiti College, Paraparaumu.

Dedicated to improving diversity in careers with computer science, Careers with Code 2016 smashes stereotypes about the ‘nerdy programmer’ and what computer scientists really do.

Supported by Google, half a million copies of the magazine have been distributed to students in Australia, the United States and now New Zealand since the magazine’s inception in 2014.

“The internet, automation, smart sensors – all of today’s digital technologies contribute about 8% of economic output in New Zealand, while in Australia that contribution is set to grow from 5% to 7% by 2020. Most of this growth will happen outside the areas traditionally associated with tech – like agriculture, health, finance, education,” says Sally-Ann Williams, Google’s Engineering Community and Outreach Manager.

“Careers are no longer as straightforward as they used to be. It used to be that if you studied medicine you’d go on to become a doctor, or if you studied accounting you’d join the professional services. Today, those traditional outcomes aren’t always the norm. Digital disruption is creating a workforce with a greater intersection of disciplinary skills. Areas like finance, advertising, law and agriculture, for example, are increasingly overlapping with core skills in computer science.”

Sara Schaare, who features on this issue’s cover, moved to Sydney from Hamilton, New Zealand and began working on Google Maps in her Honours year while completing a Bachelor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Waikato.

“Even though I was interested in computing and video games from an early age, I never really considered computer science as a career.”

“Now I’m working on developing products for emerging markets. One of the most awesome challenges that computer science will overcome is making the interaction between humans and technology seamless and making technology easy for everyone to use.

“That’s why combining computer science with something else you love will ensure the greatest success in your career.”

The magazine features profiles of 40 young people working in computer science, with 60% women. It also features data on the top ten jobs in computer science, and top ten employers in technology in New Zealand and Australia.

By combining computer science with sports, arts, business and law, students equip themselves to be agile workers across career areas that haven’t been invented yet, says Heather Catchpole, head of content at STEM-specialist publishers Refraction Media.

“Careers with Code is about combining computer science skills and computational thinking with goals of global change, new fields or students’ own interests to help them prepare for a future in which digital disruption is constantly shifting their career focus,” says Ms Catchpole.

“Careers with Code is about creating visible role model and job paths for everyone that shows that computer science skills can take you into vastly different career areas, and are essentially creative jobs where females can be part of a collaborative or lead the pack.”

– Heather Catchpole

Click here to read Careers with Code 2016.

Click here to order copies of Careers with Code 2016 in print.

combining skills

Women in STEM: the revolution ahead

On September 8, 70 days after the end of the financial year, Australia marked equal pay day. The time gap is significant as it marks the average additional time it takes for women to work to get the same wages as men.

Optimistically, we’d think this day should slowly move back towards June 30. And there are many reasons for optimism, as our panel of thought leaders point out in our online roundtable of industry, research and government leaders.

Yet celebrating a lessening in inequity is a feel-good exercise we cannot afford to over-indulge in.

While we mark achievements towards improving pipelines to leadership roles, work to increase enrolments of girls in STEM subjects at schools and reverse discrimination at many levels of decision making and representation, the reality is that many of these issues are only just being recognised. Many more are in dire need of being addressed more aggressively.

Direct discrimination against women and girls is something I hear about from mentors, friends and colleagues. It is prevalent and wide-reaching. There is much more we can do to address issues of diversity across STEM areas.

Enrolments of women in STEM degrees vary from 16% in computer science and engineering to 45% in science and 56% in medicine. These figures reinforce that we are teaching the next generation with the vestiges of an education system developed largely by men and for boys. There is a unique opportunity to change this.

Interdisciplinary skills are key to innovation. Millennials today will change career paths more frequently; digital technologies will disrupt traditional career areas. By communicating that STEM skills are an essential foundation that can be combined with your interest, goals or another field, we can directly tap into the next generation. We can prepare them to be agile workers across careers, and bring to the table their skills in STEM along with experiences in business, corporates, art, law and other areas. In this utopian future, career breaks are opportunities to learn and to demonstrate skills in new areas. Part-time work isn’t seen as ‘leaning out’.

We have an opportunity to redefine education in STEM subjects, to improve employability for our graduates, to create stronger, clearer paths to leadership roles, and to redefine why and how we study STEM subjects right from early primary through to tertiary levels.

By combining STEM with X, we are opening up the field to the careers that haven’t been invented yet. As career areas shift, we have the opportunity to unleash a vast trained workforce skilled to adapt, to transition across fields, to work flexibly and remotely.

We need to push this STEM + X agenda right to early education, promoting the study of different fields together, and creating an early understanding of the different needs that different areas require.

This is what drives me to communicate science and STEM through publications such as Careers with Science, Engineering and Code. We want to convey that there are exciting career pathways through studying STEM. But we don’t know what those pathways are – that’s up to them.

Just think how many app developers there were ten year ago – how many UX designers. In 10 or even five years, we can’t predict what the rapidly growing career areas will be. But we can create a STEM aware section of the population and by doing so now, we can ensure that the next generation has an edge in creating and redefining the careers of the future.

Heather Catchpole

Founder and Managing Director, Refraction Media

Read next: CEO of Science and Technology Australia, Kylie Walker, smashes all of the stereotypes in her campaign to celebrate Women in STEM.

People and careers: Meet women who’ve paved brilliant careers in STEM here, find further success stories here and explore your own career options at postgradfutures.com.

Spread the word: Help Australian women achieve successful careers in STEM! Share this piece on women combining skills in STEM using the social media buttons below.

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Graduate Futures Thought Leadership Series here.

disruptive technology

Disruptive STEM

Wherever you turn these days you see the term “digital disruption”. For those of us lucky enough to be educated in the STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – we probably feel empowered and excited by this disruption and the changes it brings.

But the same sense of optimism is not true for everyone – because where there is technological disruption, business and social disruption tend to follow.

Electronic communication like email, for example, has almost completely taken over traditional mail. Mainstream bookstores are a shadow of their former selves due to massive online bookstores, and paper books are becoming obsolete due to increased use of digital devices for reading.

But these changes to traditional professions that created and distributed these products has cost jobs, and not everyone who lost a job has been able to transfer their skills into a new role in the digital economy.

Innovation has caused changes in areas such as transport, energy and financial services, and will ultimately leave more people at a disadvantage due to job loss than anything we’ve seen so far. Department stores, for example, could be wiped out in Australia, while banks could be taken over by FinTech innovators.

Disruption spurred on by digital technology is extending into new fields of engineering. Batteries will take houses off-grid and electric vehicles will do away with yearly car services. These changes could leave car dealerships without a source of service income and power utilities without a market.

The birth of the internet removed advantages for large businesses in terms of scale and geography, and allowed small businesses to compete equally with larger companies. But after 20 years, the larger online businesses still have the advantage of scale. As more people use the same search engine, for example, the algorithms for that search engine become stronger. And if a greater number of people use the same online social network, the reach of that network increases exponentially.

We can use technology to improve access to capital while maintaining a safe financial system. We can find better ways to access products and services without doing away with stores. We can make the move from fossil fuels to renewables while keeping a highly skilled engineering capability employed.


“The future depends on those with a STEM education.”


Those with STEM skills have the ability to channel their knowledge, skills and innovative flair to develop new applications of technology, as well as encourage its application to achieve greater benefits for society. The future depends on those with a STEM education.

Robert Hillard

Managing Partner, Deloitte Consulting & Fellow of the Australian Computer Society

Read next: John PollaersChairman of the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council, on Australia’s best lever for a thriving, high-tech manufacturing sector.

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Be part of the conversation: Share your ideas on innovating Australia in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!