Read our latest news, event top takeouts and announcements.
Have you heard of the ‘Great Horse Manure Crisis’?
In London in the late 1800’s, there were over 50,00 horses transporting people around the city by cab, bus and personal cart. Each horse produced between 15 and 35 pounds of manure and around two pints of urine per day, and had a life expectancy of only three years. They created a massive public health and safety issue - streets were obscured, and huge numbers of flies swarmed, spreading diseases like typhoid fever.
In 1894, The Times predicted every street in London would be buried under nine feet of manure within 50 years. In 1898 the manure crisis was debated at the world’s first international urban planning conference in New York (a city facing the same issue), and the problem seemed as insurmountable as piles of manure swallowed the streets.
No one could have predicted that by 1912, this great crisis would be entirely resolved, or that someone in 2018 would be using it as an introduction for how emerging technology can change a conversation, city, country, and the world entirely. The technology that solved the problem? Motorised vehicles.
As congestion and travel time increase, the adverse impact on health is investigated, and climate change becomes visible, we explored if the next evolutions of motorised vehicles - connected, automated, and zero emissions - could provide the solutions to our new(ish), insurmountable (?), urban problems.
The findings of Infrastructure Victoria’s newly release report, Advice on automated and zero emissions infrastructure
Pilot programs currently being trialled in Victoria, including AIMES
The infrastructure and solutions needed to support development
Predictions for how and when new technologies will reach the road
The implications for automated and connected vehicles outside of personal transport
Dr Allison Stewart - Project Director, Automates and Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Advice, Infrastructure Victoria
Majid Sarvi - Professor in Transport for Smart Cities, AIMES Founding Director, University of Melbourne
Paul Kubat - Independent Consultant, former Smart City Lead at Singtel-Optus
Mark Harland - former Executive Director Marketing at GM International
Connected and autonomous vehicles could have a huge impact on congestion, travel time, greenhouse gas emissions and road safety.
They could also increase our energy usage and increase congestion in areas like the CBD.
While new infrastructure may not need to be developed right away, current infrastructure - like roads and the cellular network - will need to be upgraded to support connected and autonomous vehicles.
Public transport is still an important feature of any transport future scenario.
Integration and connectivity between individual autonomous vehicles, fleets, public transport, pedestrians and cyclists are crucial in improving the flow of transportation and movement of people in order to achieve the key benefits.
Cultural approaches to car ownership could change in an automated future.
Insurance companies and car companies will need to rethink their brands, roles, and business models.
Melbourne is home to a world-first laboratory, modelled on it's streets and established to test highly integrated transport technology (AIMES)
Autonomous vehicles are already being tested around the world, in places like Singapore and Arizona.
Autonomous buses could be seen in Melbourne as soon as 2020 and taxis before 2025.
Sold out with more than 180 registrations and a priceless buzz in the air… Not bad for our Australian premiere of Silicon Valley’s Top Tech Trends Debate, right?
With major thanks to PwC and the Victorian Digital Innovation Festival – as well as Avion Communications, Burninghouse, Norgate McLean Dolphin and Studio Worldwide – the Churchill Club is pleased to report the Top Tech Trends Debate was a huge success. (A special mention also needs to be given to our exceptional moderator, Nina Muhleisen, who steered insightful conversation throughout the evening!)
By Ryan Ebert
Named twice in Australia’s top 30 Entrepreneurs under 30, Ryan is the Director and co-founder of PHW Group – a national occupational physiotherapy, workplace training and office design company dedicated to creating healthier and more productive workplaces. So, it makes sense that Ryan has a keen eye for how tech impacts real-world human interaction and behaviour. Arguing “tech will save us from tech”, Ryan believes machine learning and wearables will help us build healthier and more sustainable relationships with our devices. This trend presents itself as a very comforting idea, in particular in this age where we feel our devices are, in fact, controlling us.
By Paul Higgins
Paul is a Futurist with Emergent Futures and on the Board of the Future Business Council. He writes and presents regularly on future disruptions to business models and consults to a range of organisations on planning for the future. Paul believes that in the next three to five years, “driverless cars as a service” will take centre stage. This trend will bring about the end of personal motor vehicle ownership, and the death of car dealerships. Time will tell if his prediction is right. If you’d like to find out more, Paul is currently co-authoring a book on the future of driverless vehicles entitled Is Driverless Always More? – How driverless vehicles will transform our economies and our societies.
By Bec Martin
Bec is an emerging technology enthusiast, a tinkerer and lifelong learner working at the intersection of government, startups and technology. Most recently, she was an adviser for the Victorian Minister for Innovation and the Digital Economy. She says much has been made of the promise of the Internet of Things (IOT) over the last decade. A strategic thinker, Bec believes the next big thing will be pervasive computer environments that interact with (and respond appropriately to) human environments. This trend is a push away from humans controlling interaction with (and responding to) IOT devices. “Ambient intelligence” – intuitive, integrated products and services that predict and respond to our needs – will soon be ubiquitous.
By Bienna Chow
Bienna is an international strategist specialising in innovation and investments, combining experience from multinational corporations, high-tech startups and venture capital across a broad range of industries. With a strong understanding of global markets, she believes the trend that will have the most impact in the next three to five years is “the rise of diasporic ecosystems”. She says global mobility, migration and technology are rapidly changing our social landscapes. For example, think of the Chinese equivalents to Uber Eats that operate a tight ship catering to Chinese residents here in Australia, right under our nose. International technology and information transfer along same ethnic connections have always existed, but companies such as these are now rapidly building local ecosystems outside their home countries and creating business expansion opportunities.
By Kee Wong
Kee Wong is an entrepreneur with an impressive string of titles including Immediate Past Chairman of the Board of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), Deputy Chairman of Asialink and member of the Board of Directors for the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). Knowledgeable in all things engineering, IT and business, Kee argued the biggest trend coming our way is “the future of education”. He believes that Australia's Higher Education Industry – which is the third largest export revenue for Australia and the highest export revenue for the State of Victoria – is under threat to being disrupted. What’s interesting is that it won’t be by other groups of universities, but by online platform players like Amazon et al. Watch this space…
And the winner is… Kee Wong!
The interactive element of the evening – where audience members vote on the spot via www.pollEV.com – is part of what makes this event so unique.
Congratulations goes to Kee Wong for his prediction about the future of education. He takes home the award this year… Who (and what trend) will be next? Sign up to our mailing list to stay informed about the Top Tech Trends Debate in 2019. We can’t wait to host it again next year.
Over the past few years, I’ve developed a very strong interest in AI. Unfortunately, despite talking to many industry experts, I’ve always felt a missing link between the IT lab and the real world. However, after attending the 2018 Digital AI Summit – a headlining event at the Victorian Digital Innovation Festival – it was clearer to me how much closer we are to closing that gap.
Here are 3 key takeaways from the event, along with best-practice that’ll help your organisation become AI-ready.
This quote was repeated many times throughout the day. It was a little startling as I’m used to hearing ‘content is king’, but if I look at things with an AI lens, I can see why data takes the cake. You need tons of clean (and accurately labelled) data to train your AI system, otherwise, you’re cooking from a recipe with all the wrong ingredients.
“It’s not who has the best algorithm who wins, it’s who has the most data.”
– Andrew Ng, Founder of Google Brain
What you can do today:
Clean existing data
Collect more data (from internal and external sources)
Segment and tag your as much as possible (i.e. into different categories or types)
If you want to make magic happen, big data alone is not enough. You need to connect insight with business process. For example, if you use TripAdvisor, it knows:
what city you’re in
when you’re probably hungry
what cafes and restaurants are top-rated by other travellers
when to send you a push notification with recommendations nearby.
Using this as a benchmark, focus your efforts on understanding as much as you can about your customers. Then infuse this data with strategy and systems.
“Marketing comes down to 3 things: right message, right time, right channel. AI can help you bring those 3 things together much faster.”
– Rob Wickham, Regional VP, Platform & Emerging Technologies, Salesforce Asia Pacific
Review customer personas and journey maps to identify opportunities
Audit how various teams (i.e. IT and marketing) are sharking knowledge
Implement new ideas to turn big data into magic
As much as it sparks controversial debate, robots will take over some jobs. But this shouldn’t be doom and gloom. Robots never get tired, and robots are more accurate (when given the right information). For example, robots can literally scan thousands of patient X-rays and identify anomalies in seconds. We should embrace what AI can bring to the workplace because just as the assembly line was a game-changer for factories, AI is a game-changer for roles that involve repetitive tasks.
“AI is the only way to address cybersecurity threats at scale.”
– Geoff Swain, Alliances Director for AJP, Crowdstrike
“The area that will be most interesting in health is digital imaging... AI provides a layer of transparency that helps clinicians review and assess cases quickly.”
– Dr Priscilla Rogers, Director, Upstart Innovations
List mundane tasks or where human error is most likely in your industry
Consider how AI can help address these challenges within your organisation
Reframe your thinking: how can AI empower me to deliver more value at work?
If you’d like to see what else I learned at the 2018 Digital AI Summit, check out: 5 things copywriters need to know about AI & conversation design.
Customer centricity has now become an assumption - of course you put your target consumer at the forefront of your activities. This becomes somewhat more complicated in practice however, particularly for an industry that didn’t exist 15 years ago and continues to grow and contort at a staggering pace, and despite brands knowing more about the market than ever before.
In what can only be described as a true-marketer approach to some of the more controversial adtech related incidents of recent times, we learned that perhaps data isn’t as scary, or as precious, as we hold it to be, and that the context of humanity and behaviour should always accompany it.
Defining adtech and customer centricity
The evolution, and sophistication of adtech and the industry
The biggest threat to adtech
Data management and privacy
The future of adtech
Mark Cameron - CEO, W3.Digital
Marcus Betschel - Marketing & Growth, inGenious AI
Luke Smith - Head of Programmatic Sales & Audiences, Seven Network
Alexandra Melville - Manager | Brand, Creative & Media, Deloitte Digital
Adtech’ broadly refers to digital tools, platforms and analytics used for advertising. It’s technology that delivers the right message, at the right time, to the right audience, and/or reports on how it performed.
It’s mostly data and hyper-consolidation that are shaping the adtech industry of today.
Video, AR and other formats are creating campaigns that are not only visually impressive, but targeted and measured in a way that offline advertising has never truly been able to achieve.
The biggest threat to adtech is that the data is predominantly owned and controlled by three tech giants, creating an oligopoly where they’re essentially able to operate as they please without challenge.
The lack of competitors, transparency, and ineffective regulation has also enabled privacy scandals like Cambridge Analytica.
Emerging technology like blockchain and voice technology will have a huge impact on the way that data is managed and content is presented.
Think two to three campaigns ahead. By building in the relevant data points to what you’re doing now, you can ensure that you become more relevant and personalised to your audience with each campaign.
Consider how to ascertain the emotional and behavioural context around the numbers that your campaign generates, as the insights will inform your messaging and content for the better.
Brands that guide themselves by the principles of relevancy, and ‘just because you can doesn’t mean you should’, give themselves a better chance of ensuring they don’t end up news for the wrong reasons.
Find the connection between the data and the humanity.
On the 18th of June, the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision (funded by the Australian Research Council) released Australia’s first Robotics Roadmap. The document aims to ‘guide how Australia can harness the benefits of the new robot economy’ and it joins a host of other international roadmaps, confirming our march toward the fourth industrial revolution.
Just four days before, our panel gave us insight into how robots are already working among us, and - with the help of a Star Wars simile - we learned that there’s more to this technology than Terminator, A.I Artificial Intelligence, or even Wall-E would have us believe...
What Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is and how it works
How and where physical robots are used
The limitations of robotics
How RPA works alongside of Natural Language Processing (NLP)
Tips for determining the best applications of robotics and how to educate your workforce
The impact of robotics on the workforce
Annie Hariharan, Senior Manager, PwC
Leigh Pullen, Executive Director, CiGen
Nicci Rossouw, CEO, Exaptec
RPA is software that is robot-like; programmed to complete standardised processes that were once completed manually by a human (often times the ‘grunt work’). These robots are wholly task-based.
Telepresence robots are iPad’s attached to a stick, controlled by a human in another location through an application that allows them to drive the bot, be seen and communicate via the hardware. Service bots are an extension of telepresence incorporating more apps and capabilities, while companion bots include the ability to speak several languages and perform both physical and digital tasks.
The key features of physical bots and RPAs have obvious applications across a wide range of sectors, but in Australia the uptake has been slow
At its core, RPA is fast, efficient and accurate. It is prime for processes that are simple and standard.
Robots cannot truly take the place of humans in all roles and responsibilities (at this point in time), because they are not truly artificially intelligent - they cannot (as C-3P0 does) understand context, infer, or derive meaning.
The greatest impact RPA will have will be on entry-level, or low-skilled, positions. These are the kinds of roles that teach us how to work, and how to do our jobs, to eventually move up the chain.
Headcount reduction, or cost-play, are not a compelling enough reasons to implement robotics.
The most culturally-successful introductions of bots occur when organisations are transparent with, and educate their workforce during integration.
Risk in RPA is inherited from the programmer, or those designing the work flow. To minimise potential risks, approach managing a bot as you would any other employee by restricting access and enforcing data purging.
Robotics will continue to evolve with the integration of NLP and machine learning.
Image credit: IBM THINKLab Aging in Place Environment: Softbank Pepper Robots
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have proved that they have the potential to change the way businesses use technology. Imagine the impact of being able to combine the two – being able to effectively merge the real and digital worlds.
Enter mixed reality (MR), technology that combines the virtual environment with the real world. Experienced via a head-mounted wearable display, users gain a real-time view of actual surroundings combined with an overlay of intelligent virtual objects that allows for new interactions through gesture and voice.
What is mixed reality?
What are the enterprise and consumer applications?
What are the current limitations and challenges of the technology?
How are mixed reality applications being used to improve the workplace?
Is mixed reality ethically neutral?
Ann Nolan - COO & Co-founder, Snobal
Luke Chadwick - Lead Engineer, REALABS (REA Group)
Tim Dwyer - Associate Professor, Faculty of IT, Monash University
MR is where AR, VR and the IoT collide or intersect. It involves taking digital objects – visualisations, virtualisations – and brings them into the physical world, giving digital objects physical characteristics.
MR is less obtrusive than VR as it allows its users to interact with tangible objects in a real environment, utilising overlaid augmented, digital content to create realistic scenarios.
Some analysts predict the value of the virtual market will be worth US$28 billion by 2020.
Consumer-facing applications for MR are limited. With more universally appealing content needed, immersive narrative-based storytelling has been flagged as an area that will likely lead to more users.
Enterprise applications of MR are being developed across many industries exploring use cases and pilot applications. Applications of MR for training and data visualization are proving to be game-changing.
Training and testing scenarios can be run in the digital world, creating a realistic digital copy of a set of circumstance that couldn’t otherwise be safely replicated, are costly to administer or not a true reflection of what a trainee will experience in the field.
MR is a game changer for data visualisation because it allows data to be more easily perceived, manipulated and interacted with. Situated analytics has applications for workplaces where workers may not have their hands free and need to access information quickly.
MR is hamstrung by current hardware. This includes uncomfortable headsets, being tethered and latency.
Current price point for headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens is hindering mass market appeal, keeping consumer level adoption and usage rates low.
A unique challenge is how children will interpret MR scenarios. With real environments colliding with virtual environments, there is the very real potential for children to have difficulty distinguishing between the real and virtual.
Image credit: Lucas Giolito tries out virtual reality by Arturo Pardavila III
The risk of a bad user experience in voice is higher than for screen. Unless you invest more in a custom solution through a smaller company, then you need to work within the limitations of Echo and Google Home. The tolerance for a bad experience is also much lower for voice users - they are likely to be less familiar with voice than they are with screen, but also expect it to be the quicker, easier option, making your window for success smaller.
To give your skill the best chance of succeeding, be sure to do the following -
While some might bark orders at their phone, the best experience is one that feels conversational. To create that you need to use copywriters, and you need to do your research. Look into any forums related to your industry and observe how your audience are using language.
This also has implications for SEO, which is now rewarding natural language and longer-form content.
Did you know there are over 40,000 ways to request a flight? They include airlines, times, days, locations, and then mannerisms and phrasings for each combination. You need to identify each of the iterations for your skill, and develop responses to match. Nothing turns a user off quicker than, ‘Sorry, something went wrong. Please repeat your request.’
It is a monstrous, and largely manual task identifying the thousands, and thousands, and thousands, and thousands, of different ways different people can ask the same question, so chances are high you may miss one or two. Create shortcuts that allow your skill to fill in the blanks, rather that failing to progress unless it has a 100% match to something it recognises.
You can do this through account-linking and assumptions. Account-linking may help to pull in some of the users basic data - full name, birth date etc - without having to ask too many follow-up questions. These follow-ups can make the experience feel more like a phone conversation and the point-of-difference (convenience) is lost.
Assumptions can be built in to the AI engine to assist the skill. For example; if a user asks for session times for a movie but does not state the day, you can assume it is for that day and respond with those times, rather than asking.
The nuances of language and translation are a key challenge to taking a skill to audiences in different countries, with different languages. To capture these, it is best to employ a team on the ground in each of the countries you wish to target - translation is not a simple conversion.
The unique freedom that comes from interacting with a screen, rather than a person, is why we have keyboard warriors. The same can apply to voice interactions. It’s important to include polite responses as part of your output not only for these users, but for older generations who will speak to technology as if they were a person sitting across from them. Programming greetings, ‘thank yous’ and ‘pleases’ will help to personalise the experience for your audience.
For around fifty thousand dollars, brands can get their own ‘voice’. There are benefits to having your own - it can mirror your brand more closely, and appeal to your specific audience. However, because of the limitations on the technology the risks of errors, and a bad experience, are high and you may find that the voice you have invested in, becomes associated with failure. So for now, let Alexa take the heat.
Voice is a whole new experience compared to screen, using entirely different human skills and senses - speech and hearing, rather than sight. Just as you can’t directly translate into another language without consulting cultural norms and mannerism, you can’t do a direct translation of your screen content to voice. Imagine trying to maintain the attention of your user while Alexa reads out a full web page? Consider the best applications of voice for your users needs and develop an experience tailored to help fulfil and achieve these.
These tips came from our recent event, Utilising Voice Technologies: Why type when you can talk.
Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash
Hooray! We’re pleased to announce that the Churchill Club has now transformed from a company structure into a not-for-profit. That means we can continue to assist those in emerging technologies – whether they be researching or developing, implementing into business, funding or regulating them – without a focus on commercial imperatives.
Actually, no. Until now, it’s been structured as a company and run as a social venture. However, seeing us as a not-for-profit is an easy misconception to make given that we have always strived to be impartial and transparent, and act in the best interests of all advancing emerging technologies in Victoria.
The Churchill Club will now have more opportunities to access funds. In the past, we have solely relied on funding from memberships, ticket sales and appropriate corporate partnerships to cover its expenses. Now, we are delighted to be eligible for a wider range of government grants and to have opened the door to a wider range of sponsors.
Firstly, nothing but good. Not-for-profit status means more members to connect with and being able to partner with government for bigger and better events.
Secondly, we will continue to improve the quality of our events – and where possible, host special occasions. This year, we are thrilled to announce that the Churchill Club will be hosting a ‘Top Tech Trends 2018 Debate Dinner’ as part of the Victorian government’s Digital Innovation Festival, 6 September.
Lastly (but not least), members now have the ability to play a greater role in how the club is run. You are invited to our AGM, and we encourage everyone to contribute. We will take feedback and suggestions seriously.
CEO of the Churchill Club, Bec Kempster, says, “We recognise that Victoria needs a voice that represents all players in emerging technologies – regardless of their business maturity, or the industry they operate in. There’s a number of shared challenges that arise in relation to emerging tech including commercialisation, managing data security and privacy and overcoming user skepticism, through to funding and talent acquisition and retention. These aren’t just Start-up challenges, but are faced by all businesses. By facilitating conversations and sharing experiences we can seek to collectively address these challenges and improve the outcomes delivered from these technologies.”
2018 marks an exciting year for the Churchill Club; we are committed to investing time and energy into accelerating industry like never before. If you are not a member of the Churchill Club and would like to be (or you would like to renew your membership), please visit our memberships page.
Beneath the bitcoin hype is a system that could truly change the way that businesses actually do business with each other and consumers, and the way consumers manage and transfer their own data - blockchain.
The applications across industries appear to be endless - funding and delivering food to Syrian refugees, the world’s largest shipping company (Maersk) using it to track cargo and various banking institutions doing their own testing. It’s also been suggested that thanks to its transparent and decentralised nature, it will challenge the premise of capitalism.
What blockchain is and how advanced it is
What are the benefits of blockchain for B2B and B2C
It’s limitations and challenges
The role of government
Rosa Thompson - Project Manager, ConsenSys & Co-organiser, Women in Blockchain Melbourne
Dr Joseph Liu - Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University
Lyndon Gasking - Founder, Zoetic.AI
Dr Donald Feaver –CTO, E2Language.com, Branded Trust Assurance Systems, LearningBase and TDS Web 3.0 Solutions
The key features of blockchain include a decentralised, distributed ledger where there is consensus between all participants about the validity of a transaction and immutability once it has been recorded.
Blockchain creates a completely transparent system and in theory, this transparency should mean that ethical and credible participants – or organisations - rise to the top, while the unethical and fraudulent are exposed.
Brands where ethics and sustainability are core to their values, can differentiate themselves with records that blockchain enables them to have and can also make more informed decisions on who they do business with.
Transparency does not equal credibility. Having the ability to upload raw data into the blockchain doesn’t necessarily provide context - how and where the analysis was completed and how was the data was validated before it was entered. The devil lies in the details.
Decentralisation means no central point of regulation and authority. When working across borders, businesses are still dealing with countries that have different rules, regulations and standards. This can make it difficult to establish enough trust and confidence to reach consensus.
A distributed ledger means participants having immediate and total access to data can create security issues. It can expose sensitive data to competitors and leave you vulnerable to theft of intellectual property.
Businesses are trying to understand the value proposition of blockchain, alongside implications for strategy and consumer and business confidence.
Using blockchain adds to the cost of goods and services which is inevitably passed on to the customer. At this stage, the equation doesn’t always stack up.
Sophistication and innovation are needed to propel blockchain forward to where the value proposition and strategic implications are clear, and any costs passed on to the customer are minimised.
Blockchain is in its infancy. Currently, the benefit lies when it’s seen as a tool that is part of a bigger solution working cohesively with other tools (like IoT).
The Clean Energy Target has been replaced by the National Energy Guarantee, Elon Musk built a giant lithium battery in South Australia, Tony Abbott thinks Global Warming might be a good thing, and our power bills keep climbing. With such a sustained hold on the news cycle and glaringly obvious (and serious) issues at stake, frustration and fatigue at energy policy is understandable.
When we’re being inundated with doomsday statistics and the political merry-go-round on policy, it’s difficult to feel as though consumers have any control or influence. However, as we discovered, options exist and we don’t necessarily have to sacrifice profitability or reliability to make the transition to sustainability.
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