For Australia to succeed as an economy in the coming decades of the 21st century, it will need to successfully participate in the next waves of the digital revolution. This means using the creativity and skills of the Australian people; supporting the entrepreneurship and innovation of our businesses; and applying emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT). Digital success will enable growth and innovation across industries as diverse as manufacturing, agriculture and professional services. It will generate new jobs and help address a variety of social challenges, from reducing traffic congestion to delivering health services more efficiently.
By some measures, Australia is taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital revolution. Information and communications technology (ICT) services exports increased by more than 60% over the past five years to reach $3.2 billion in 2016‑17. Business ICT R&D increased by almost 50% to $6.6 billion in the five years to 2015‑16. But there are also early warning signs that Australia could end up a passenger in the digital journey, with other countries in the driver’s seat. As an economy grappling with the transition away from its mining boom, Australia risks falling behind our international peers, which could have flow‑on effects on productivity and living standards.
This edition of ACS Australia’s Digital Pulse is the fourth annual stocktake of the health of Australia’s digital economy, produced by Deloitte Access Economics for the Australian Computer Society (ACS). It’s the most detailed examination of digital workforce trends, aimed at informing public debate about this important area of our economy. But this edition is more than just an annual update. For the first time, we directly benchmark Australia’s digital performance with that of its peers, and contemplate the magnitude of the benefits on the table if we can become a global leader in digital activity. We identify what success looks like in terms of Australia’s workforce and businesses, and some of the policies needed to support this digital activity.