AFG Venture Group Dispatches

Corporate advisory and consultancy in Australia, South East Asia and India.

Digital Australia & Emergent Asia

November 13th, 2012

Over 110 people joined in to listen to, ask questions and participate in a thought leading discussion on DIGITAL AUSTRALIA & EMERGENT ASIA – an event presented by Pradeep Khanna, Executive Director, Integrating Australia with Asia and CEO GLOBAL MINDSET on Thursday, 01 Nov in Sydney. The event was hosted by PwC Sydney, supported by Asialink and with prizes by GLOBAL MINDSET

This was the second event as part of Integrating with Australia series and was possibly the first major event covering Australia’s engagement with Asia after release of the much awaited Asian Century whitepaper on Sunday, 28 Oct. The theme of Digital Australia & Emergent Asia event was – how will Australia’s digital economy co-exist with some of the digital/ real/ blended economies of Asian countries?

A key question raised by Pradeep Khanna (CEO of GLOBAL MINDSET) was ‘’in a highly globalised, digitised and services intense marketplace, if we can access Asian services marketplace, can’t our Asian neighbours access the Australian services marketplace and deliver better quality services at a lower cost ? The Australian economy has a high degree of services intensification with services accounting for more than 80% of employment and 75% of GDP. It is a developed economy and more easily accessed in a highly digitised world. Are we prepared for this transformation of our economy? “

The event started off by keynote speaker, Matt Barrie (Founder and Chief Executive of,) giving a glimpse of the future where chances were most jobs one can think of will be performed by somewhere else in the world (mostly in emerging markets of Asia and elsewhere) at a fraction of the cost. A future – where every business will be an internet business dominated by software, software and software. In particular he highlighted disruptive business models like  MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) about to impact Universities.

In response to a question about whether there is a single entity called Asia, Trent Lund (Lead Partner for Innovation & Incubation of Digital Ventures, PwC) said “We keep hearing of Australia as a gateway of Asia. First of all, there is no one Asia, it is a multitude of countries with very unique personalities. They want to do business in an integrated way with people who are there on the ground with them, who understand the nuances of their cultures and not through a gateway.”

On the definition of the digital economy, Ian Birks (CEO of Australian Services Roundtable) was emphatic this was not a technology discussion but instead a transformation discussion – business, societal and economic transformation.

In regard to whether we will see a time when technology may make country borders irrelevant to form a global community, Prof Aditya Ghose (Professor at University of Wollongong and President, Service Science Society of Australia) felt there would be progressive reduction of borders through use of technology and we were already seeing some elements of a homogenous culture emerging as the world becomes flatter. There were, however, differing views from some other panel members.

Dr Dean Economou (Technology Strategist, NICTA) gave a good example of Digital Divide not only among nation states but within a country itself. In one of his visits to South Korea, a highly digitised economy, he found a similar situation as in Australia – with countryside behind metros in digitisation.

Bob Hayward (Chief Innovation and Technology Officer, CSC Australia & Asia) was passionately concerned about Australian business not being prepared to take advantage of opportunities from Asia’s rapid growth. He highlighted some of the comparative advantages of Australia – good infrastructure, clean environment, effective public administration system, good welfare health systems etc.   These offered considerable scope in sustainable services trade with Asian region.

Brad Howarth (Commentator & Author on Digital Transformation, Faster Future) felt we all needed to take responsibility for creating awareness about the digitising of the economy.  Citing his recent visit to Mildura, he gave an example of how we could get a local printer to consider opportunities from a 3D printer instead.

Likewise Keith Besgrove (First Assistant Secretary, Department of Broadband, Communication and Digital Economy) highlighted our open and flexible economy. This has enabled us to change, adapt, and grow in the past and will do so in the future as well.

Lindley Edwards (Group CEO AFG Venture Group & Non-Executive Director, Asialink) made the closing comments by thanking Pradeep for organising the event, speakers for their time and the audience for attending the event.

These are some of challenging questions facing us which were discussed on 01 Nov 2012 at DIGITAL AUSTRALIA & EMERGENT ASIA event. For more information please contact Pradeep Khanna, Integrating Australia with Asia by email at