The winners and losers in the digital economy
15Jun12

A few weeks ago I posted that no industry was immune to the rapid pace of change in our modern interconnected society. I strongly believe that some current industries will be turned upside down by the arrival on the National Broadband Network and borderless labour.

Now a new report by IBISworld’s Phil Ruthven, A Snapshot of Australia’s Digital Future to 2050, lists the winners and losers of what it calls “the new utility” – ubiquitous high-speed broadband.

Ruthven says Australia must shift from exporting its natural resources to exporting so-called “developed resources” – health, education, tourism and business services, and identifies seven broad industry sectors that will benefit from this “hyper digital era”.

The main beneficiaries appear to be government and public safety programs such as emergency and disaster response services, followed by online retail and the mining industry.

However, Ruthven also says that of 509 industries in Australia, 15 – nearly all in traditional media, publishing and broadcasting – are likely to disappear unless they can reinvent themselves.

The industries he identifies as facing “extinction” include: book, magazine and newspaper publishing and retailing; radio and television broadcasting; reproduction of recorded media; and film processing.

Its a trend we’ve seen for the last 15 years. If the medium is easily digitalised then the industry is at risk. It started with music, then moved onto books and movie and TV downloads. Its one of the reasons Fairfax is trying to cut costs and job losses are an unfortunate symptom of these changes.

A recent presentation by Mary Meeker which explained the “re-imagination of everything” is a great pointer to what has happened and who will be affected going forward.

The report says that traditional retailing will decline in the coming decades and much wholesale trade may also disappear.

Mr Ruthven says that Australia has been slow to adopt high-speed broadband and benefit from the digital economy, and the major obstacle is scepticism.

“Because I think there’s been so many naysayers out there suggesting we don’t need it, which is it a bit like saying ‘dirt roads were quite adequate 50 years ago, who needs a sealed road and a four-lane highway?’” says Ruthven.

The report also predicts that one in four people will be working from home at least part-time by 2050, something that futurist Mark Pesce elaborated on.

“The idea of employment, as in a job that lasts for more than a few days or a few weeks, is going to be this very weird term by 2050. Our grandkids will go up to us and say, ‘You had a job and you did it for years at a time?’”, says Pesce.

“That much connectivity in the economy creates this enormous capability for fluidity, and so jobs are going to start to become gigs and those are going to start to become tasks, and eventually we’re all just going to be doing a little bit here and a little bit there and it may not be until we get up in the morning and check the smartphone that we’re going to be knowing what we’re going to be doing that day.”

Pesce feels that the employment market of 2050 is “going to look a lot more like eBay then it does like Seek.”

 

All are expected to be replaced by their online or digital equivalents.

 

Posted under Digital, employment, Web/Tech

Written by Craig Wilson