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REDUCING THE FRICTION OF EMERGING TECH

When it comes to adopting emerging technology, there will always be hurdles that companies and individuals need to face. As part of our passion for constantly uncovering “what’s new, next”, the Churchill Club uses 6 main pillars to form the basis for the conversations we facilitate.

These 6 pillars of friction get to the heart of the pain points faced when adopting emerging technology. We believe that opening up lively discussions around them, with top industry leaders, is a positive step in avoiding these pitfalls. Or, at the very least, gaining a better understanding of them.

1. TALENT ACQUISITION & RETENTION

It’s often the case that, with emerging technologies, the demand for talent far outweighs what’s available. The root of the problem isn’t as simple as the workforce not keeping up with the rate that the tech world is moving, either.

There are so many other factors at play, including:

  • There’s a lack of graduates coming from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) backgrounds
  • There’s often a gap in the knowledge and skills of Australian tertiary students who do graduate with the required subjects. This is especially the case when comparing to offshore talent
  • It’s not fully understood what tech talent actually want. Money isn’t always the number one motivator and big companies need to recognise that if they want to improve their acquisition and retention rates

2. COMMERCIALISATION & TECH TRANSFER

Although Australia ranks remarkably well with the OECD for research excellence, there’s still a gap in putting that research to its best use. The collaboration between research and industry isn’t always there, but it needs to be.

Commercialising an idea, innovation, or a great piece of research is a key driver in uncovering new sources of revenue, creating new jobs and industries, and tapping into economies that are increasingly centred around knowledge.

There’s no easy solution, but we believe scientists do need to shift towards thinking more commercially. Government, businesses, universities and scientists can also benefit from approaching things with more alignment, with the understanding that they can benefit much more together than separately.

3. FUNDING & INVESTMENT

Unfortunately, many investors in Australia don’t yet understand the technology sector and its huge growth potential. In 2015-16, the government’s research and development spend only represented 1.9% of Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP), compared to the OECD average of 2.4%.

Even the major players aren’t stepping up to the plate. In the 2018 financial year, a large majority of VC funds (73%) invested in fewer than 5 startups, or didn’t invest in any at all. 20% invested in 6-10 startups, which isn’t a significant jump.

The culture of fear and aversion to risk is largely to blame for this, and will need to be addressed before any change can occur.

4. NAVIGATING ETHICS

Like most things, emerging technologies can be used for good or bad. Because they’re developing so rapidly, making sure there’s a governance for the ethics surrounding new technologies can be incredibly difficult.

With the potential to impact our wealth distribution, food and water security, personal privacy, and basic human rights (just to name a few), we need to ensure that these technologies are developed in a way that benefits both society and individuals.

5. DATA PRIVACY & SECURITY

Data is incredibly important; for growing businesses, the way it can benefit society, and even in providing customers a greater selection of choices. However, data has risen at such a rate that security is often a point of contention for consumers.

Building trust with the way that data is handled is imperative. A report from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) suggests that 58% of Australians avoid dealing with companies if they have privacy concerns about them. And that can be a difficult space to navigate, considering the sheer amount of cybercrime that goes on every day.

If businesses want to be successful within the digital world, they’ll need to work on ways of improving trust, confidence and security when it comes to data.

6. USER SKEPTICISM & UNFAMILIARITY

Where new technology is concerned, society doesn’t always embrace it with open arms. This is especially the case when the new technologies substitute, rather than augment, our humanity.

It’s healthy to harbour some level of scepticism around emerging technology, but it can still present challenges for businesses with a futuristic mindset. Companies need to be aware of the way they present the benefits that emerging technologies will provide, if they want to decrease scepticism in our society as a whole.


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