Without broadband, our economy is an old Nokia
Australians love their mobile technology. As a nation we have the second highest uptake of smart phones and are among the biggest users of tablets in the world. We are gaga for data and all a-twitter for Twitter, and for good reason. Diminutive digital devices are making our lives easier and our economy stronger.
A recent report by Deloitte Access Economics, Mobile nation: the economic andsocial impacts of mobile technology, highlights the role of mobile technology in boosting Australia’s productivity performance. It calculates that the productivity benefit from mobile technology in 2011 was $495 million and estimates that this figure will grow to $12 billion by 2025 from current developments.
The report is clear evidence that the key to improving the long term performance and growth of our economy lies in our ability to ride the information technology wave. This will be linked to an expansion of spectrum resources and broadband technology.
Meanwhile, some in our nation still believe that the way to improve productivity is through cutting workers conditions such as penalty rates, shift allowances and rights to collective bargaining. These 1980s arguments prosecuted under the guise of flexibility are weakened by their lack of credibility. There is simply no economic evidence of a link between reducing the wages and conditions of workers and productivity improvement. It is an ideological myth.
On the other hand, there are plenty of studies and reports that directly link technology to economic growth. The best evidence of the economic benefits of mobile technology is that businesses and individuals continue to invest in new technology at an increasing rate. This has led to some remarkable changes in the way Australians do business.
New technology has helped to further reduce the tyranny of distance, it has allowed employees better and more mobile access to their work environments, and it has led to greater workplace cooperation, even across national borders. Mobile technology is allowing us to produce more, learn more, create more while earning more and spending less time in the workplace. Our lives have become more interesting and more productive.
The authors of the Deloitte report also found that the mobile industry has transformed over recent decades. It has moved from a simple supply chain to an emerging “ecosystem” of mobile technologies that is driving change in our economy. An important link in this structure is the enhancement of fixed networks through the rollout of the National Broadband Network.
Increasingly mobile and fixed technologies are complementary means of network access. Mobile devices can now easily switch between mobile and fixed networks, and users are regularly searching for wifi access to source information and download content to our mobile phones. Fixed wireless and satellite technology will be a crucial link in the NBN, particularly in areas where fixed fibre will be impossible. Access to high speed broadband services will also allow us to leverage the opportunities that mobile technology can create.
Before I entered parliament I was working for a large Sydney law firm. When I started the job, employees were banned from accessing Facebook and Twitter from company computers. Before long, staff began skirting the ban using their mobile phones, which illustrated to the partners the true power and opportunities of communication technology and platforms. Within a year the ban had not only been lifted but the firm had its own Facebook page and Twitter account.
Increasingly employees are driving change in business operations rather than a company IT department. The authors of the Report cite an increasing bring your own device (BYOD) culture at work, driving change and new opportunities to engage with customers and clients. This is a big shift in business development.
Very few of us have never accessed mobile technology. It is changing our lives and bringing new opportunities in business and education. It is also making our economy more productive.
It is time we moved beyond the antiquated arguments on productivity, and followed our heads and our hearts towards a more mobile future.
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