Broadband future: Australian boards to include digital natives

Forum discusses opportunities and issues of the digital economy

Is it time to rethink the composition of many of the corporate boards of Australia to take advantage of the opportunities technologies such as broadband can provide?

That is just one of the ideas discussed in the e-business plenary session at the Realising Our Broadband Future forum in Sydney.

The session was facilitated by Dr Bronte Adams, principle with Dandolo Partners, a consulting firm that provides strategy and policy advice to governments and companies. Panelists included Mike Sibley, general manager for online and e-business services for the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Maha Krishnapillai, director of government and corporate affairs at Optus and Tim Harcourt, Austrade’s chief economist.

Dr Bruce McCabe, director of technology and innovation at KPMG, provided delegates with an overview of the session. He outlined several issues, including the need for more competitive impetus in the industry.

“[Companies] are simply not competing agressively enough to realise the importance of taking advantage of things early,” he told the audience.

One of the other key messages to come out of the session, he said, was that everybody has a role to play as educators in the digital economy. The issue of trust and security was also a key concern.

“We have only just begin to scratch the surface,” he said adding processes such as authentication regimes and security measures will be increasingly important.

Australia faced national challenges posed by an aging population, climate change, trade with countries such as China, and openness in the economy.

“Australia has historically been quick to protect and defend our industries but we are moving to a world where all this is opening up,” he said.

There is also a lack of data as to where Australian businesses are in terms of their thinking and adoption of broadband strategies.

Session participants were also critical of many of Australia’s corporate leaders, saying there was a need to foster a “management 2.0” culture which is not as hierarchical, is more inclusive and recognises that while there is more risk and loss of control, there are also benefits.

Traditionally, Australian boards have comprised “older and wiser citizens” who are not always au fait with new ways and technologies, McCabe reported. Boards should also include digital natives who can see the opportunities.

“We had a very stimulating set of sessions, lots of discussions. We have pages and pages on the wiki. I think this is beginning of a set of conversations and the fact that the government has embraced openness…is indeed a lesson in optimism.”

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