Australia is stalling when it comes to the digital revolution, according to a number of top academics and even the government’s own independent report commissioned last year.
The federal government is yet to announce which specific recommendations of Professor Ian Chubb’s 2014 landmark report, STEM: Australia’s Future, it will enact. The report called for an immediate review of the national strategy on bettering our own competitiveness, namely by aligning research, education, international engagement and innovation.
Professor Roy Green, Dean of the UTS Business School, and the former Australian Government’s Innovative Regions Centre, lamented in an opEd published in Manufacturing Monthly this week that during the mining boom, Australia squandered its once in a generation chance to reposition its economy for sustainable growth.
While other advanced economies experienced a recession, the resources-based Australian economy rode the wave of a commodity price hike, which “increased our terms of trade without any special effort on our part – adding 15 per cent to our national income over a six year period.”
Yet despite this unprecedented economic gain, Australia did not, and is not, rising to presented by the new digital economy.
Compiled by researchers at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, the Digital Evolution Index(DEI) ranks 50 countries in terms of readiness for the digital economy. Australia was rated alongside many other Western and Northern European countries as “stalling out” in the digital revolution.
Of this group which is lagging, it was said that the only way out of this stall is to mirror what the ‘stand out’ economies are doing. “Redouble on innovation and continue to seek markets beyond domestic borders. Stall Out countries are also aging. Attracting talented, young immigrants can help revive innovation quickly,” the researchers said.
What’s more, businesses must lead the way by customising their approaches to this multi-speed planet, and in working around institutional and infrastructural constraints. Indeed the index report noted that the next billion consumers to enter the online marketplace will be making their digital decisions on a mobile device – a marked shift from the practices of the first billion consumers who helped build many of the foundations of the current e-commerce industry.