Below is an extract from an op-ed published in the Australian Financial Review in March 2018, entitled “If Australia were a company, would you buy its shares?”, by Data61‘s CEO, Adrian Turner.

Read the full piece over at the AFR’s website, here.


The chief executive of a local publicly traded mid-cap company walked into the boardroom with a lump in her throat, preparing for what would surely be the most difficult board meeting of her relatively short tenure.

The choice in front of the company was stark.

While the company was experiencing growth, the growth was slowing. It had a heavy dependency on old world analog product lines that faced increased competition from new world global companies. She knew that. More troubling was the CEO’s recognition that her competition was no longer easily definable.

The CEO was not born and raised in this global digital marketplace. But she understood hard choices had to be made to survive and flourish in it.

Competitors were reframing the basis of competition by understanding the new economics of digital businesses and had invested in the R&D and talent to execute at speed and scale.

They were leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence platforms and applications to gain customer service insights, rapidly iterating on new product design processes and were achieving a 5-10 times leap in time to market and customer conversion.

Because of their growth and momentum, the competitors attracted the best and brightest talent from around the world and value added capital for even faster growth. Profits were invested back into research and development; their eyes and wallets on not just the immediate payback from local markets, but on every single industrial and consumer market.

They also invested aggressively in digital infrastructure in many dimensions – high-speed internet, data management and performance optimisation platforms; cyber security to protect their digital assets; and (re)training for their people to ensure they had the skills needed for the future – a future where they maintain as much agency in the world they are creating as possible.