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Hyperconnectivity, mobility, crowds and 3D printers are game changers for enterprises of every ilk – the smart ones will be ready to harness such capabilities, toppling slower rivals in their wake. It’s Peter Williams job to equip organisations with the smarts to not only see what’s coming, but work out how that will impact their business and their ability to adapt.

Melbourne based, Williams boasts the magnificent moniker ‘chief edge officer’ at Deloitte’s recently established Centre for the Edge.

“We look at the edges of society and business - often driven by hyperconnectivity and the changing digital world - and make sense of that for senior executives. What do we see at the edges and what that might mean – the speed of change gets faster and faster and faster and we are seeing the topple rate increase where industry incumbents are falling over at faster and faster rates, particularly in tech and telecom – ten years ago if you had said that Nokia and Blackberry would be almost in the last throes, then you would say you can’t see that happening,” he says.

While individuals behave like sponges, soaking up new technology as fast as it is dished out, enterprises are more like bricks, that can’t move fast enough, according to Williams.

But he warns; “If you don’t understand it and embrace it then you could be in trouble.”

Williams, a trained accountant who escaped the grasp of rows and columns, has been a serial intrapreneur within Deloitte. He started the e-business consulting business in Deloitte in 1996, one of the pioneers of the field.

After that he founded what would become Deloitte Digital, which has now become a global franchise.  Williams and his team worked both on Deloitte itself to ensure that it embraced important technologies, and with clients. He and Deloitte CEO Giam Swiegers also hatched the Deloitte Innovation Programme which encouraged staff to innovate. “When we started 50 per cent (of the ideas) were digital – that’s now up around 85-90 per cent. With any innovation programme you get three or four years of suggestion box ideas – now the quality of ideas is spectacular.”

So why did he let his baby, Deloitte Digital go? “My game’s not running big global things – I’m more about concepts - thought leadership communicating and delivering the art of the possible.”

Williams says the Commonwealth Bank with its smartphone apps and new payments platforms such as Kaching and Pi is an example of what can happen in traditional businesses when they look at what might be possible, rather than simply reworking the status quo.

So how does Williams keep his eye on the edge, which necessarily has no fixed abode? “I have a tweetstream that is my newsfeed – and I apply the rule of three. If three people that I respect – say, Gavin Heaton, Mark Pesce and Ross Dawson - said ‘look at this’, I’ll look at it. Otherwise you could spend your life watching the TEDx stream.

“I hang out in co working spaces and in Melbourne I work out of The Hub there. I read a lot and immerse myself in stuff.”

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Beverley Head

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Beverley Head is a Sydney-based freelance writer who specialises in exploring how and why technology changes everything - society, business, government, education, health. Beverley started writing about the business of technology in London in 1983 before moving to Australia in 1986. She was the technology editor of the Financial Review for almost a decade, and then became the newspaper's features editor before embarking on a freelance career, during which time she has written on a broad array of technology related topics for the Sydney Morning Herald, Age, Boss, BRW, Banking Day, Campus Review, Education Review, Insite and Government Technology Review. Beverley holds a degree in Metallurgy and the Science of Materials from Oxford University and a deep affection for things which are shaken not stirred.

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