Thursday, 10 December 2015 13:26

Data61 delves from dancing elephants to 2016 predictions

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Data61 and the CSIRO's Dr Stefan Hajkowicz, Principal Scientist, Strategy and Foresight, has shared his 2016 predictions, from capex to opex, new theories, automation and more!

Data61 bills itself as ‘the largest data innovation group in Australia.’

It brings together the CSIRO’s ‘Digital Productivity team’ and NICTA (National ICT Australia), enabling Data61 to proudly boast it is ‘unrivalled in its intellectual capital and its network with the global technology marketplace.’

Data61 promises a new website soon, but says to visit its Digital Productivity or NICTA sites in the meantime for more information.

So, what are Dr Stephen Hajkowicz’s predictions for 2016?

1. Creating the advanced-advanced service and knowledge sector economy for Australia.

As much of Asia rapidly transitions from a phase of industrialisation to a phase of building advanced service sector economies Australia will need to make the jump into an advanced-advanced service sector economy. This new Australian economy will grow and diversify exports into scientific, knowledge, cultural, entertainment, tourism, health, education, financial, legal and quality-food products.

Whilst a rapidly industrialising Chinese economy wanted lots of iron ore, coal, copper and other minerals an advanced service-sector Chinese economy wants different products. Australia is already an advanced service-sector economy and is ready to make the jump into an advanced-advanced service sector economy.

2. Rewriting Ronald Coase's theory of the firm.

This longstanding economic theory which saw Coase awarded the Nobel Prize in economics may need to be re-written in light of the today's digital economy. The information asymmetries and transaction costs which meant firms had comparative advantage (and economies of scale) are being challenged by the new world of platform economies.

Uber, AirBnB, eBay, Amazon, Liquid Space and Freelancer are examples of platforms which reduce transaction costs for buyers and sellers and change information flows. They've already begun restructuring the ways industry works and more change lies ahead. The next sector to experience this change in a big way could be banking and finance.

3. ”Elephants must learn to dance" is a quote from VMWare's CEO Patrick Gelsinger.

It tells us the large organisation is entering an era in which it needs the same speed and agility of the disruptive start-up. The era of the entrepreneur is upon us and applies to individuals and organisations alike. Now is the time to experiment with new business models, products and ideas. Basically we face an innovation imperative.

Holding tight won't work for many businesses who face a new technology enabled disruptor they haven't even seen yet. As Gelsinger says now is the time to "rattle the cage" and try something new. It's also important to develop organisation structures with are agile, flexible and capable of handling a more fluid environment.

More below, please read on!

4. Racing with the machine in an automated world.

Advances in artificial intelligence are bringing a much wider range of human performed tasks into the scope of robotic devices and computer software. Job tasks which are highly structured, repetitive, routine and adhere to rules are at high risk of automation.

This pushes the workforce towards the jobs that are creative, complex and involve judgement, reasoning and social interaction. As Erik Brynjolfson and Andrew McAfee note in their book "The Second Machine Age" we can't beat the machine because it's gotten so much better.

Instead we need to differentiate and learn how to work with the machine to amplify our skills and impact. In other words we need powerful automated systems to be a friend and ally not a competitor or foe. This applies to individuals, organisation and society as a whole.

5. From capex to opex.

Information technology budgets for medium to large firms are likely to migrate away from capital expenditure on infrastructure and towards operating expenditure as a greater share of the organisation's data finds its way off servers and onto the cloud.

Whilst uploading to the cloud has benefits it also carries risk; in particular cybersecurity risk. Organisations will be looking for ways to manage that risk. The physical infrastructure is still vitally important but for most organisations the focus of the future is increasingly about data and software as opposed to hardware.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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