KIM WILLIAMS: Why Australia still isn't ready for the digital era

Kim Williams. Photo: Getty/Robert Cianflone

Former News Corp Australia chief executive Kim Williams says Australia “is not managing the change at all well” as digital disruption upends the global economy.

Speaking today at digital disruption conference, Daze of Disruption, Williams, now the commissioner of the Australian Football League, spoke about how companies must understand digital technologies in order to navigate their way through the era successfully.

“The opportunities will be infinitely larger and more interesting… [but] the journey is still in its infancy,” Williams said.

“[New digital technologies] will result in reductions of cost, new-found wonders in efficiencies of operations and a wealth of new possibilities for the quality of life.

“We’re up for a fascinating ride.”

Here are some of his predictions for businesses can expect:

Those who don’t innovate will fail.

“Australia is not managing the change at all well.. the world is not changing, it has changed,” he said.

“Those who ignore that change are destined to fail.

“Fragmentation in all things will accelerate and the outcomes will be unpredictable. The only certainty will be the relentlessness in innovation and necessity, and inevitability, for transformational change depending on your position and perspective.

“The messy impact had only just begun. This will require innovation like never before.

“The opportunities will be infinitely larger and more interesting… the journey is still in its infancy. And remember, never has the cost of failure been lower.”

The transfer of power from business to consumers will accelerate.

“Consumers will continue to channel their trust with their friends and online community of strangers before they trust traditional authorities and commentators or well-established brands. This is of immense significance to commerce and modern politics,” he said.

Technology is going to become a genetic extension of our beings.

“As part of this turbulent process, technology will become almost a genetic extension of ourselves,” he explains.

“Touch, gesture and voice commands are all becoming second nature in modern product constructs.

“Embedding technology patterns and personalities from the youngest age. Technology is now an embedded part of most of us and for anyone under 18, it’s almost core to their being.

“The new cultural paradigm is ‘If I can imagine it, it simply has to be there, I just have to find it. Or otherwise I’ll embed it myself.’ Now there is a paradigm shift.”

A person uses MasterCard with Apple Pay. Photo: Rob Carr/ Getty for MasterCard.

Mobile is the future.

“Mobile technology and all its software tools will continue to rise and rule,” he said.

“Consumers now expect mobile devices to become central controls… The handy computer in your pocket will rule the day with ever better functionality,” he said, adding that consumers will expect all their devices to work “seamlessly and harmoniously”.

“[Consumers] expect the technology to know them and to anticipate their wants and needs.”

A dark age is coming.

“On the other hand, the digital divide will expand,” he says. “We will also see a new information dark age for the many who will be locked out.”

“Large international software players which innovate for a living will offer a stunning wide array of products and content services increasingly from the worldwide distribution management where geographic separation will become very less relevant.

“Legal frameworks will eventually be bypassed… they will be disintermediated.

“New players… will enter the Australian market place, which will be vulnerable if it doesn’t change the way it now operates.

“We attach too much virtue to incumbency and it means many large players are unusually venerable… with an incapability to respond swiftly.”

So many TVs. Picture: Getty Images

Life will consist of a series of interconnected, virtual systems.

“Driverless cars and enhanced reality systems will blow your minds with virtual homes, TVs… will become common place. Intelligent shopping systems and oral instructions will become equally standard, and most of it will be seamlessly connected and automated,” he said.

“Big data drive productivity growth of the physical economy. Machine to machine communication will be central to society. M2M will be as common a term as B2B and C2C.”

Social media is the key to engaging the next generation.

“Fundamentally central to this new world is social media,” Williams said.

“The instant expert, now an established part of digital social life, will become even more of an irksomely pervasive phenomenon.”

He describes this as being a characteristic driven by Gen Y. “It needs to be understood if one is to engage commercially, politically, creatively, and very much in creating a durable employment environment.”

We’re all going to live longer and better.

“Personalised medicine and genomics will be matter of fact realities, and they will transform health care,” he said.

“[Health care] will be more about wellness management than sickness care. For a long time I have believed that the Department of Health should be called the Department of Sickness, because that’s what they address. And that means we’re all going to live a heck of a lot longer.”

Roads will become redundant.

“I’m bemused by the way our politicians talk about investment in roads,” he says.

He explains that with people now driving their cars for just 5-10% of their time, and the impact the rise Uber has had on travel, he says the government’s heavy investment in road projects is “misguided”.

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