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The Great Australian Pivot

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This year’s Optus Spark we looked at the future of technology and consumer changes shaping the future of Australia.


In the first instalment of this series we explored the future of technology with futurist Chris Riddell. We now turn our attention to what the latest census tells us about how Australia is changing from esteemed demographer and leading social commentator, Bernard Salt.


Australians love to challenge authority.


We’re supporters of David not Goliath. From the heroism of Ned Kelly to our celebration of the ‘Aussie Battler’, there is irreverence for the status quo knitted deep in our culture.


This is the prevailing theme stemming from the 2016 census, according to Bernard Salt. Speaking at Optus Spark, he called the emergence of this trend “the Australian Pivot”. He believes it will change the direction of our future economic prosperity.


The Australian Pivot is a move away from the established norms of big businesses as more and more Australians try to do it their way by creating small businesses. And it has some exciting parallels in the telco industry.


What factors have created this change? Australia is increasingly multicultural. Sydney, for instance, is now one of the most ethnically diverse cities on the planet – more so than New York or London. The result is citizens who are more accustomed to new ways of thinking.


Further, Australians are becoming more religiously diverse suggesting an even further variety of thoughts amongst the Australian people.


These shifts poise the solid foundation for innovation.


The Australian Pivot takes on more importance when viewed alongside the global economy.


As Bernard explains, the top companies in America by market valuation are relatively young companies: Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google. On contrary, today the reverse is true in Australia. Our top companies are established organisations, who have existed for more than a hundred years in some cases.


Bernard calls this “complacent prosperity”. It has seen the Australian economy hum along – particularly in the last three decades – with little disruption and even less innovation.


Coupled with our largely positive macro-economic environment, it’s argued that now the conditions are ripe for small businesses to provide the innovation largely missing from Australia.


It’s a point that struck me with its parallels to the environment that telcos operates in.


Differentiation for service providers has always been a challenge; products are largely commoditised and there has traditionally been little to compete with beyond price. But the intensity is heating up and lowering prices is no longer enough to compete.


Optus Wholesale is increasingly working with service providers who are small and medium size businesses. These organisations are agile, adaptable, and know their customers well. For this reason, many are innovating their go-to-market approach and seeing great results. The examples they’ve set are important for the entire industry to learn from, and we honoured the best of the best at Optus Spark with our annual Optus Wholesale Award for Excellence.


Telarus won the 2017 Optus Wholesale Innovating for Excellence Award. Telarus creates the 4G Max Uptime Proposition; an innovative solution to service dropout. It delivers an automated failover on fixed connections to the Optus 4G Plus network, meaning customers can maintain uptime through 4G when wired connections drop.Telarus.jpg

Michael Omeros from Over The Wire accepted the award

OVO took home the 2017 Optus Wholesale - Customer Partner of the Year Award. OVO uses entertainment as the key differentiator to build a valuable brand around tier 2 content partnerships and data free streaming of content. In effect, OVO is able to deliver customers their favourite sports, creating a key market differentiation.

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Matt Jones from OVO accepted the award


These are just some examples, but the opportunities for innovation are endless. One of the Census highlights that resonates with me is Australia is becoming more multicultural. Creating services which target Australia’s distinct ethnic groups, similarly to what MVNOs in the US has done with the Hispanic market, could be one solution that speaks to our changing and increasing diversity.


Equally, Australia’s job market is moving to knowledge based professions, with sectors such as healthcare and education are predicted to grow. Along with advancements in technology, it presents the potential to tailor unique telco service to the needs of these sectors.


There are opportunities in change and we believe everyone must take note. As Bernard says: “Never look at the numbers, it’s the story behind them. The people of Australia are talking to you through the charts and they are telling you where prosperity lives”.


As businesses we can no longer to afford complacency and business as usual. We need to pay attention to what these trends tell us. Where Australia pivots we need to follow.


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