Australian businesses embracing technological revolution

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Australian businesses are ahead of their global counterparts when it comes to embracing new technology and preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

According to Deloitte’s second annual global Readiness Report, Leadership in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Faces of progress, 49 per cent of Australian business leaders say they invest in new technologies to disrupt their market, compared with 33 per cent globally.

Deloitte Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Robert Hillard, said that as a nation, Australia was not short on brilliant ideas.

“From the bionic ear to polymer bank notes, Australian companies have created world leading innovations. Our challenge, as we compete on the world stage, as a country and individual businesses, is how we consistently commercialise research, to bring the best ideas to life. As the revolutionary impact of new technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics and 3-D printing becomes apparent, it’s encouraging to see Australian business embracing change by investing in technology and their people.”

Deloitte surveyed more than 2,000 C-suite executives across 19 countries to determine how business leaders are preparing for the future and their attitudes towards technology, societal impact, strategy and talent.

The report found that 30 per cent of Australian corporate leaders rank employee satisfaction and retention as the most important measure of success.  A close second in evaluating their annual performance was having a positive societal impact at 24 per cent.

In the past year, Australian business confidence in readiness for technological and societal change has increased from 2 per cent to 37 per cent.  The report states that this increased confidence could be due to greater awareness of what Industry 4.0 is and community discussions around its impact on the future of work and skills education.

Industry 4.0 is the term used to describe the Fourth Industrial Revolution or the digitisation of the manufacturing sector, which is rapidly transforming how businesses operate.

“There are community fears about robots taking people’s jobs, but history shows us that more jobs are created than lost by technological change. It’s easy to be fearful about the future, but machines are taking away repetitive and highly physical tasks and creating opportunities for problem solving and creativity. Our report shows that the majority of businesses are helping their people to re-skill for the jobs of the future, which is encouraging,” Mr Hillard said.

“Every business needs to be more systematic about innovation. Many of the jobs of the future haven’t been invented yet. People need the chance to play with and explore new technology, and work out new ways to use it. Problem solving is a very human skill.

“While there is no one single recipe for success in how to deal with rapid industrial transformation, it can be helpful to understand how certain leaders are approaching this ever-changing environment.”

The report identified four types of leaders who are thriving in a technology-disrupted world:

  • Social Supers – leaders who believe societal initiatives contribute to profitability.
  • Data-Driven Decisives – strategy development and data-driven decision-making processes.
  • Disruption Drivers – invest in new technologies to disrupt the market.
  • Talent Champions – embrace the responsibility to train their employees.

“Organisations with leaders who embody the characteristics of the Industry 4.0 personas – commitment to do good; defined, data-driven decision-making; bold, longer-term vision of technology; and being aggressive about workforce development – are poised to survive and thrive.”

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