Home' Forge : Vol 3 No 2 Contents From the publisher // 1
A recent prediction caught my eye; almost
one-third of the Australian economy faces
a ‘short fuse, big bang’ scenario of digital
disruption, according to Deloitte.
The ‘short fuse’ means disruption within
three years. The ‘big bang’ refers to a 15
to 50 per cent impact on a firm’s revenue,
cost base or other operating metrics.
Retail, technology and media, finance,
professional services and the arts are in
the firing line.
Deloitte’s view, outlined in more detail
in the Fast Lane section in this edition
(page 8), suggests that incredible change is
ahead for Australian industry. Two-thirds
of Australia’s economy faces a ‘big bang’
scenario of disruption over the next 10
years, says Deloitte.
Digital disruption, entrenched in the media
and retail sectors, is starting to shake up
financial services, and legal and accounting
firms. How long until disruption spreads
to education, health, government services,
utilities, transport and agriculture?
To my thinking, it is not a question of
whether industries will be disrupted by
technology, or when. Technology-driven
disruption across all industries and
sectors is inevitable. As one industry after
another is disrupted, the pace of change
Rather, the question is, what is the capacity
of organisations to respond to disruption?
As a digital tsunami builds on the shoreline
of corporate Australia, organisations
must be prepared for the unpreparable as
disruption takes industries in unexpected
Forge’s cover story in this issue (‘Rise of
the Robots’, page 24) provides a glimpse
into a future that could change society
as we know it. Robots could replace 47
per cent of all jobs by 2035, according to
University of Oxford researchers.
McKinsey & Company estimates that up to
45 per cent of work activity, worth
US$2 trillion in annual wages in the United
States, could be automated using existing
technology. The scary part is that nobody
knows for sure how robots, drones,
algorithms and big data will disrupt
the global labour market, such is the
magnitude and speed of change.
What is clear is that agility and
adaptability will become even more
valuable skills – possibly the difference
between organisations surviving, thriving
or dying in the digital economy. Those
that are slow to change will drown in a
wave of digital disruption.
New models of learning, collaborating and
working will be needed.
Traditional university learning models,
where students spend tens of thousands
of dollars and several years to gain a
degree, will make less sense in heavily
disrupted industries. The shelf-life of skills
will rapidly fade – software engineers,
for example, already need to update their
skills every 18 months to keep on top of
Surely it makes more sense for students
to learn and work at the same time,
or study in between jobs, rather than
to invest heavily up-front for jobs that
may no longer exist in the coming
decade. Granted, university learning
helps students adapt to change, but the
traditional model of so much study up-
front – and far less along the way – will
need to be revised in the digital economy.
Business, too, must change. The human
resources function in large organisations
needs to be elevated and integrated within
strategy. Does the organisation have the
right capabilities for the digital economy?
Can it get them? Can staff develop new
skills for new projects at breakneck pace
through transformative learning and
How should governments respond to
digital disruption? Which policy settings
can help Australian business withstand –
and capitalise on – the coming decade of
disruption? How can policy help business
to speed up, rather than slowing it down?
How can governments drive innovation
ecosystems that bring together universities,
industry and other stakeholders in the
commercialisation process? Will local
councils become facilitators rather than
service providers in the digital economy?
Can regional Australia play a bigger role
in the rise of Australian innovation and
This issue of Forge touches on a range of
issues that relate to Australia’s capacity
to take advantage of digital disruption.
We consider the role of universities in
driving entrepreneurship on campus; the
potential of regional entrepreneurship;
the rise and rise of female entrepreneurs;
and developments in Australia’s medical
I trust you will enjoy this issue of Forge.
As always, email your comments or
suggestions about Forge to
David Haratsis, publisher, Forge.
From the publisher
There’s a digital tsunami set to hit Australian business.
Forge is helping industry to prepare for the threats – and
opportunities – of technology-driven disruption.
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