A digital economy strategy must include goals

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The Morrison government should be commended for its commitment to a digital economy strategy. For a government that is making its way through a quagmire of unforeseen problems, it is good to see the focus on one area of ​​policy with such positive potential for so many different parts of society.

This does not mean that $ 1.2 billion in development initiatives will never be enough, nor that the debate will never be settled on the best place to put the money.

But a national strategy can at least help define a common mission and framework for planning and measuring success, even if in this case it is a vague notion of “a modern and leading digital economy by 2030.” “.

Former Rudd government communications adviser Tim Marshall welcomes the latest digital economy strategy, but says all stakeholders will need more.

In the weeks leading up to the 2011 release of the Rudd government’s “AU20” national digital economy strategy, I sat with Richard Alston, the former communications minister who had advised the company I worked for.

Hearing the announcement of the upcoming announcement, he joked, “Didn’t I get one?” and in fact the Howard government did it in 2001 and again in 2004, with substantial investments in skills, safety, and various research and commercialization initiatives.

Of course, this series of investments included National ICT Australia (NICTA), which then merged with various CSIRO assets to become Data61.

The theme at the time was innovation and R&D capacity. As the then Prime Minister said, “By investing in science and innovation, we are investing in Australia’s social and economic prosperity.”

Rudd’s 2011 version was prima facie a statement of high-level aspirations in areas such as online participation and engagement for homes and businesses, improving health, caring for the elderly and education, teleworking, government service delivery and regional development. That’s if you ignore the national broadband network, back then a $ 43 billion investment in ubiquitous wholesale broadband.

A big budget video published at a national summit on the digital economy at the time describes the vision. Swap a few personal tech examples and ignore the cliché, jarring script from the house administrator’s mother (how that got past the review team, I’ll never know) and it’s a pretty close portrayal of where we are now in the digital home.

What it lacks is the way small and midsize businesses now demand and use connectivity to support much of their business processes, if not core businesses.

Either way, as the video says, the national broadband network has prepared Australia for the 21st century. It may have changed its approach over the years and still needs to evolve, but it has paid off.

In many ways, we live in a different world and a different digital economy than ten years ago.

Oddly enough, this includes corporate interest, highlighted by a report at the right time Two weeks ago, the Business Council of Australia advocated for accelerated change in the digital economy.

Ten years ago, large corporations were virtually silent on the digital economy and arguably hostile to the national broadband network. It is a good thing that it is now seeing the benefits, not only for its members, but also for consumers, small and medium-sized businesses and the economy in general.

Another big change is the value of data. Organizations have been collecting data for years but don’t really know what to do with it. Data sharing and management protocols and platforms have slowed development.

The Morrison government’s strategic focus on artificial intelligence highlights this value, although industry takes stock that we will need more in this space to bring cutting edge R&D to market.

Skills will be essential to attract investment and scale up new concepts. Improving government services can do the same, while delivering better outcomes to citizens. The measures included in the strategy can all do good things.

The key for the industry and for the business community in general will be to continue to advocate the next steps, to keep the government committed to the mission.

We now live in a distant working world. This is true for us who now work from home as it is around the world with smart people and organizations serving customers around the world. In my opinion, this is the opportunity in Morrison’s claim to be a “leading digital economy by 2030”.

Become a nation that exports intelligence – not just cool apps, but services, skills, processes, techniques and technologies. It is home to an industry that helps make the world work and therefore provides the best opportunities for its own citizens.

Australia is connected. Australia has a leading track record in innovation and R&D. To take the next step towards a large-scale digital exporter, we need to rapidly develop local skills, attract skilled people, and quickly adopt the technologies that we know are changing the world. And we need to set goals to do that.

None of these things are new, but the opportunity demands that it be taken as seriously by the government as it takes the challenges of other major industries and economic and social issues.

Industry and business must keep government on task to achieve its modern and forward thinking vision. The measures announced are a good start, but the work will not be done by simply implementing them.

Tim Marshall is a former journalist and advisor to the former Minister of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy. He works in corporate affairs in the fields of technology and telecommunications.

You know more? Contact James Riley by email or Signal.



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