Digital disruption about to impact health, education sectors

Latest Deloitte research shows rate of digital transformation is accelerating and is now set to hit six new industry sectors representing one-third of Australia's economy

Digital disruption is accelerating out of industries such as retail and ICT and stretching its tentacles into six additional sectors including education and health, representing one-third of Australia’s economy.

That’s the latest view following up Deloitte Digital's Digital disruption - Short Fuse, Big Bang research series, which looks to understand how digital is impacting key industries and what organisations can do to ride the wave.

The first report, launched 18 months ago, divides Australia’s 18 key industries into four quadrants based on the impact digital is expected to have between 2013 and 2017.

These are: ‘Short fuse, big bang’, or those that will experience the most impact first; ‘Long fuse, big bang’, or industries that will be impacted significantly but over a longer period of time; ‘short fuse, small bang’; and ‘long fuse, small bang’.

At a press launch to release its latest insights paper, Harnessing the ‘bang’: Stories from the digital frontline, Deloitte Digital leader, Frank Farrall, said the six industries included in the ‘long fuse, big bang’ quadrant – education, health, transport and post, agriculture, government services and utilities – are about to be revolutionised by digital. Combined, these industries account for 33 per cent of Australia's economy.

Farrall pointed to the launch of Apple’s health app earlier this month as the “canary in a coalmine” and sign that digital disruption is about to hit the health industry.

Deloitte's latest prediction is based on the significant digital impact already occurring across ‘short fuse, big bang’ industries: ICT and media, retail trade, finance, business and professional services, real estate and arts and recreation. Combined, these represent 32 per cent of the national economy.

According to Deloitte Access Economic director, John O’Mahony, the change in revenue spread between businesses and the role of digital factors for Australia’s top 2000 companies over the past two years showed digital disruption had accelerated. Revenue spread had increased by 10 per cent on average across the 18 industries included in its research.

“Not only is digital disruption happening, it’s spreading across the economy from the usual suspects, such as ICT and media, into ‘long fuse’ industries,” O'Mahony commented.

“This is where we expect to see big changes in the next three to four years – in areas where digital technology has so far represented a less significant change for organisations.”

O’Mahony noted many ‘long fuse, big bang’ industries are government-owned institutions, putting the onus on the public sector to not just keep up with digital’s arrival, but actively engage in disruption.

“This sends a clear message to government: Are you keeping your businesses up to date with the latest digital technology to deliver the best business outcomes?” he asked.

Related: Deloitte’s Steve Hallam on the 5 disruptive trends of the digital age

To help organisations embrace digital change, Deloitte’s new Harnessing the ‘bang’: Stories from the digital frontline paper provides case study examples of how ‘short fuse, big bang’ organisations Telstra, AustralianSuper, Westfield and Ubank, have approached digital.

While each has innovated differently, Farrall said common themes are the need to lead with customer experience, invest in the right digital technology platforms, enact a culture change to embrace digital, and focusing on continuous improvement.

Related: AustralianSuper’s co-creation and digital innovation journey

Deloitte has also developed what it calls the Digital Transformation Framework to help organisations become more digitally attuned. At a high level, the key areas of focus are revenue growth, internal efficiency and future prospects, Farrall said.

In addition, Deloitte’s new paper highlights recruitment industry startup, The Search Party, as an example of an organisation riding the way of digital disruption to transform the recruitment market.

During the press launch, The Search Party’s chief financial and operations officer, Ben Hutt, said the company’s business model is based on three strategic decisions: To embrace cloud; recognise the importance of big data and machine learning; and use social for public and private networks.

“The challenge for all established industries is not how to fight disruption, but to embrace it to enhance your own offering and give customers a better experience,” Hutt commented. “Digital is about a better way of delivering services of more value. And it’s not just engaging with existing customers, it’s also how to secure new ones.”

Read more: CEOs taking up digital strategy role but organisational challenges remain

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