IBM launches A Snapshot of Australia’s Digital Future to 2050 report

Sydney, Australia - 14 Jun 2012:

IBM (NYSE: IBM) today launched the findings of a world-first report - A Snapshot of Australia’s Digital Future to 2050.  The report reveals information and communications technology (ICT) enhanced with ubiquitous high-speed broadband is becoming Australia’s new utility – as historic and game changing as electricity or telephony.

Written by Phil Ruthven, Founder and Chairman of IBISWorld and commissioned by IBM, the report looks ahead of existing research to examine how Australia can harness this new utility to transform our lives, our cities and the way we interact. It also examines which industries will disappear, which will prosper and what new industries will emerge as a result of our digital future.

The report rates all Australia’s industry classes (509) against the impact of the new utility. Ruthven and his extended Industry Impact Panel assessed the prospects of the 509 classes of industry in the Australian economy over the next 40-50 years. The report predicts that 10 per cent of Australia’s 509 industries, accounting for 23 per cent of the nation’s revenue, will not function without this new utility. A further 23 per cent of industry revenue will use it to drive step-changes in their business. 15 industry classes are likely to demise if they do not reinvent themselves to embrace the digital future; and some may simply be unable to do so.

Andrew Stevens, Managing Director, IBM Australia and New Zealand commented on the findings, “As Australia experiences an unprecedented natural resources boom which has buffered our economy from challenging global macro-economic conditions, it is easy to overlook the need to address the nation’s sustained productivity decline and the importance of securing longer term prosperity. IBM believes part of the solution will come from how business and government leverage our increasingly connected and networked world.”

Author Phil Ruthven, IBISWorld said, “We believe this to be the first report in the world to rate a nation's entire industry classes against the impact of high-speed broadband. We have predicted that by 2050 the new utility will generate around $1 trillion in revenue for Australia, almost eight times higher than the $131 billion it generates today. By 2020, Australia will return to productivity growth of 1.7 per cent due in part due to the new utility, compared with the current 0.6 per cent of the five years to the end of 2011. Some of the biggest industry beneficiaries are our lowest productivity growth industries today, including mining, health and education. Through these predictions it becomes obvious that high-speed broadband is essential for Australia’s economic growth – not a delete option.”

The report finds that Australia will no longer be known for its dependency on the export of natural resources over the next half century. It will become known as much an exporter of services such as tourism, business services, health and education services. The export of tourism alone could match the 2012 mineral exports totalling around $175 billion by 2030.

The digital future is also predicted to redefine the corporate structure. New ‘flatter’ organisations will aim to be flexible and responsive, turning their focus to ‘what’ and ‘why’ work is done instead of ‘where’. This will be enabled by greater mobility technology and openness towards new ways of working - resulting in telecommunications becoming the ‘surrogate transport’ of the future.

Stevens concluded, “Now is the time for Australian industries to start adapting their businesses to leverage the digital future this report envisages. Industries that do not embrace this new utility are likely to see the demise of their business. Through our experience with this evolution together with our employees, forward thinking clients and partners, we are helping businesses perceive and capitalise on these future opportunities.”

For further information and complete findings download the report:

Twitter: #ausdigitalfuture

About the report

In A Snapshot of Australia’s Digital Future to 2050, the Industry Impact Panel set out to determine which of the 509 classes of Australian industry would, as a consequence of the new utility, face a likely demise, gain a generalised benefit, experience a significant benefit, or experience a transformational benefit. The 19 industry divisions and their 509 industry classes were assessed separately by IBISWorld, IBES and Resilient Futures before the panel members triangulated their findings based on the following criteria: size of the industry, the industry’s ability to take up technology; the industry’s international competitiveness; and its potential for displacement.

In addition to the rating system, the data was cross-checked against IBISWorld’s Industry Database, comprising quantitative analysis and forecasts of all industries in the Australian economy.

Appendix: A Snapshot of Australia’s Digital Future to 2050

The Macro-environment for Australia

High-Speed Broadband in the Infotronics Age

Industries and the Impact of the Digital Future

Australian Business and Society of the Future

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A Snapshot of Australia’s Digital Future to 2050

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IBM launches A Snapshot of Australia’s Digital Future to 2050 report

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Full report

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