Last week I saw the future. Two days at the Myriad Conference in Brisbane showed me how we shall live, bank and travel. Whole industries are being transformed at lightspeed. The missing link is a skilled workforce to power the new Australia.
I went to a keynote on mobility, thinking it was about mobile technology. Apparently not. The automotive industry has re-branded to the mobility sector, and the mobility ecosystem is upon us. The Tesla is a gorgeous and comfortable vehicle – I want one! However, it is probable that transport will become a service, especially in cities. There is even an acronym for it – TaaS.
And then there is ‘out-of-this-world’ travel. Elon Musk intends to re-purpose his BFR rocket so that globetrotting takes on a whole new meaning. He announced at a conference in Adelaide last year that travellers will be able to get from one part of the world to another in under an hour for the price of today’s economy airline ticket. Timeframe? Under 10 years.
I wandered in to a workshop on 3D printers. After all, they are quirky new toys, are they not? Not so. My head hurt by the time I had processed the fact that this technology is already contributing to the transformation of manufacturing as we know it. The new term is ‘advanced manufacturing’. It is not just about the technology, which is exploring robotics, 3D printing and IoT-centric design, but also about the business models, new designs, adaptive processes and responsive service delivery that will be part of advanced manufacturing. Visit the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, if you want to know more.
Finally, there is blockchain and open banking. Originally invented to underpin bitcoin, blockchain technology is being incorporated into the payment models of a whole range of digital products and services. Power Ledger is a good example. This Perth firm is establishing a marketplace so that us peasants can sell excess solar energy directly to buyers – such as other peasants. No need for energy companies between the buyer and the seller.
Open (source) banking is even more transformational. Do I hear cynicism? Australian Treasury has released its review into what open banking should look like in Australia. Also, APRA has just granted two new banking licences for the first time in decades. Both are ‘Restricted ADI licences’ and both are neobanks – digital only. The financial requirement for starting a bank in Australia is now $3 million in capital. Maybe we should have a VETBank to enable RTOs to collect more than $1,500 at any one time!
This editorial only touches on some industries. Health and artificial intelligence are dating seriously, cities are re-inventing themselves, and there’s a space start-up industry emerging in Adelaide – seriously!
The really scary thing at the conference was not any of the above. It was the number of speakers who issued pleas to the audience for skilled staff. Did anyone know a product manager, a marketing strategist, a business analyst, a logistics specialist, anyone who had any experience, or even some understanding, of the digital business world? It is crystal clear that the current workforce must rise to this challenge. Yes, STEM in schools is essential, but the need is NOW. It is time to re-imagine the VET sector.