Tech council of Australia brings the digital generation to the policy forefront

The Tech Council of Australia has arrived, with a mandate to influence public policy relevant to the tech industry and provide a "trusted voice for Australia's technology industry.

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Technology is central to nearly every aspect of our lives — even more so in the post-COVID world we're all stumbling towards. 

For individuals, it's the key to maintaining connections with family and friends. For employees, it's the basis for communication, collaboration, and productivity. For many organizations, it's currently the only way to engage with customers and suppliers. And finally, for government agencies, it's the primary mechanism for delivering services, updates, and information. 

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As Forrester noted in 2020, the pandemic has already forced firms and policymakers to do things that were previously considered impossible. Our challenge now? Applying the lessons we're learning from disruptive technologies and services to positively impact not only business strategy but public policy as well. 

Against this backdrop, the Tech Council of Australia has arrived. With a mandate to influence public policy relevant to the tech industry and provide a "trusted voice for Australia's technology industry," the only real surprise is that its formation didn't happen sooner. 

The 25 founding members include a very strong mix of well-known Australian tech companies, locally based venture capitalist firms, and multinational tech leaders. More importantly, the board consists of senior business leaders (CEOs/founders) as well as former ministers at both the state and federal level. 

The stakes for Australia's tech industry could not be higher. Consider: 

  • Automation will continue to reshape the local job market for decades to come. This is ultimately about the future of the Australian workforce and employment landscape. As a result of automation, Forrester predicts that by 2030, Australia's overall job market will shrink by 11%, or 1.5 million workers. The Tech Council will need to temper this alarm with guidance on what jobs will be lost, created, or transformed as a result of technology-driven disruption. 
  • Firms are struggling to craft their anywhere-work strategy. Both locally and globally, a key challenge all business leaders face in 2021 is whether and how they should devise an anywhere-work strategy that extends beyond the pandemic. The Tech Council is well positioned to advocate for the adoption of technology that improves employee engagement, leading to better customer outcomes. 
  • Digital transformation has accelerated to warp speed. The global pandemic forced firms to shift almost overnight to only engaging with customers virtually, thrusting digital teams to the forefront of firms' business strategies. The Tech Council can provide a trusted voice to firms on how to leverage technology to maintain that momentum. 
  • Government agencies themselves are struggling to digitally transform. Almost all agencies have initiatives in place to improve customer experience by better leveraging digital technology. But most are hindered by execution challenges — lack of contemporary digital skills, capabilities, and ways of working. The Tech Council will need to play a leading role in helping agencies understand the importance of turning data into actionable insights, accelerate digital service delivery, and build trust with security and privacy. 

Other tech industry bodies have long existed in Australia, including AIIAACS, and StartupAus, the last of which has now merged into the Tech Council. But none have combined the vision and scope to represent the entire tech industry with the experience and influence to impact positive change at the policy level. This is the promise the Tech Council must deliver on. 

The challenge for this new generation of influencers? Transforming the connections they've gathered while building successful Australian (and global) technology companies over the last decade into allies for driving positive change within the industry. 

This post was written by Vice President and Research Director Michael Barnes, and it originally appeared here