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SSC Newspaper : February 2014
Strathfield Scene 11 www.ourstrathfield.com.au THE BIG ISSUE Itisaboldbidtokickstarta Digital Economy Strategy for the local area. Strathfield Council and Attentive Consulting are talking to local businesses and using surveys, meetings and workshops to engage them. It is estimated there could be opportunities worth between $150 million and $300 million in “gross added value” for the local economy. The consultation exercise is trying to work out how much digital strategy businesses already incorporate into their daily work. The outcome is about creating opportunities for local businesses to jump aboard the high-speed broadband system and create new enterprises that bring both jobs and smarts to the Strathfield economy. They will be able to find those opportunities anywhere around the globe. It’s work that Sam Mr Austrin- Miner of Attentive Consulting has carried out for 20 Australian councils, including Penrith. His website claims Attentive has contributed more than $4.5 billion worth of digital economy strategies throughout Australia. Strathfield received the National Broadband Network (NBN) last July. It was switched on at the Town Hall in a ceremony attended by then deputy prime minister Anthony Albanese. But it isn’t much of a boon unless business knows how to use it. And that’s where Mr Austrin-Miner comes in. Funded through grants, it is his job to carry out a skills audit in Strathfield and develop a blueprint for business to follow. “ We run digital innovation and engagement workshops with business. And we are running an online survey. Then we establish markets,” he explains. “There are a large number of small businesses in Strathfield, for instance, and the digital economy is perfect for these enterprises. “The digital economy is a financial and a social economy. If you are business you can do things which might increase productivity. If you are member of society – you are physically disabled, for instance –you can now use technology to communicate with council or other community groups. “The digital economy isn’t one thing , it’s everything. It’s intrinsic to life and it permeates every aspect. “ What we are trying to understand is what things can Strathfield do that it couldn’t do before. This can attract funding, help businesses go online, and look at different models of diversification – perhaps a teleworker centre or a digital call centre. It’s our job to identify those key elements and create recommendations for council.” Mr Austrin-Miner is excited by what he has seen so far in Strathfield. The huge number of small businesses, a thriving education sector – all- important elements in creating a digital economy. But he also sees much going offshore – to places like South Korea, for instance, where their own version of national broadband has spawned many small enterprises and empowered Koreans to have two or three jobs working from home. And he wants to try to grab back some of the $250-$500 million in economic money that disappears into Sydney’s CBD every day. Money that could set Strathfield’s businesses pumping. Australia ranks globally at 24 in terms of its take up of IT. Not great – but not bad, either. Mr Austrin- Miner is concerned about Strathfield’s state of readiness to take up a digital economy. Some global consultancies believe you can expect a 25 per cent uplift in added value to the local economy by educating business to the online opportunities. Mr Austrin-Miner is more cautious. “Strathfield, just by doing a digital policy, is progressive because it is saying: Let’s identify those things that we can do.” “Strathfield is finding out where it is – they will get a strategy which tries to value the digital economy, the level of maturity which tells you how far you can go, and what types of investments we need. “It will then identify key things – education, new investment. This is an economy which needs to sing a more digital story. “ We’ve seen extraordinary transformation begin and investment come. It comes from IT vendors, not just government. Call centres, green data centres, tele-working centres. It’s a comprehensive document that says, ‘you guys are worth this if you do that, and here is a start’.” Among the jobs he sees coming are the creation of online content for social networks and software development. Mr Austrin-Miller is a passionate believer that Australians spend too much money online that eventually goes overseas. “ We need Australian Inc – a belief in ourselves. It does exist, it just doesn’t apply to business at the moment.” A Strathfield Council spokesperson says the council has so far surveyed about 400 business owners to get an understanding of how many utilise digital strategies to market or sell their product. “ We’ve had a great response to the survey. And the feedback has been great so far,” the spokesperson says. our digital economy = $300m “THE DIGITAL ECONOMY ISN’T ONE THING, IT’S EVERYTHING. IT’S INTRINSIC TO LIFE AND IT PERMEATES EVERY ASPECT.” HAVE YOUR SAY AND WIN AN iPAD There is still time to tell Strathfield Council what you think about the area’s digital economy and how it can be improved. Fill out the questionnaire at the address below. All entrants have the chance to win an iPad mini worth $499. Visit Strathfield.attentiveconsulting. com.au. STRATHFIELD’S SILICON VALLEY