How will Australia respond to technological change?

The Australian government recently held a conference to assess how it is approaching concerns surrounding the digital economy.


Last week saw the Australian government hold its eGovernment Conference, which considers the role of technologies, tools and risk in the digital economy.

In an age of rapid development and constantly emerging trends, it’s important for the government to acknowledge its role in helping the country to adapt and evolve. It also needs to be a leader in managing risk, with the government acknowledging the challenges posed by cloud computing, mobile and big data.

What were the aims of the conference?

This year’s conference focused on three main themes that address important issues in the country’s digital landscape. All three focus on the way new technologies can be used to benefit end users and the economy through streamlined approaches.

The first is to increase the efficiency of online operations to ensure that digital offerings are used to their full potential. Integrating new software and systems can often impact efficiency, especially when it concerns new technologies that some businesses are not familiar with yet.

Secondly, the government focused on reducing online barriers in an attempt to keep content accessible for all web users. This also involves keeping these secure so Australians aren’t exposing themselves to unnecessary risk.

Finally, according to the government, collaboration needs to be encouraged, with a “silo approach” no longer cutting it. For digital technologies to be at their most effective, departments within a business and throughout the government need to be transparent with each other.

How can Australia become a leading digital economy?

Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull announced the establishment of the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) to ensure Australia is responding effectively to the needs of the digital economy.

Mr Turnbull believes the time for merely talking about change has passed, and action is now needed to keep Australia at the forefront of digital trends.

“We should aim to become the world’s leading digital economy,” he said.

“This won’t happen if the government continues writing strategies on the importance of the digital economy, but it can happen if we lead by example. Government needs to embrace new technologies, leverage data and innovate the way public services are delivered.”

While these measures are a step in the right direction, there is still some work to do as budget announcements failed to consider the skills gap in the IT workforce. Australia will struggle to become a digital economy leader if time and money is not invested in the people needed to make this possible.

However, while not included in the budget, Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane promised that there will be an announcement regarding the skills gap later this year.

“This year the Government will further deliver on its national science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) policy [and] implement new measures to boost the commercial returns from Australia’s research and establish National Science and Research Priorities,” a statement read.