The Australian technological future July 2020


Futurist and technology evangelist Rocky Scopelliti shares insights derived from his new book, Australia 2030! - Where The Bloody Hell Are We, on ways that executives and directors can use the learnings of the past ten years to get ready for inevitable changes for the coming decade.

Drawing on the insights of hundreds of Australian c-suite and directors, Scopelliti shares thoughts on shaping society coming out of one of the world's worst challenges since the last world war.

There’s a general believe that older generations are anti-technology, however your study found that an overwhelming number are positive about technological and scientific developments in the coming decade. How do you explain that disconnect?

The research in my new book ‘Australia 2030 ! - Where the bloody hell are we? demonstrates that Australians are very positive about the role technology plays in our future - but changing traditional behavioural habits is a very different is a different set of challenges. Of interest is that COVID forced us to change many of our traditional habits and the question now is, how many of us will return to those habits, or now that we’ve ‘tasted tech’ not look back.

You say in your book that transformation is an ongoing thing, not a one-time change – and there’s no “end”. That makes it a bit intimidating to get started because we’re used to having a roadmap. How do you get started and how can you measure progress?

In the past, we’ve thought about the future in a very linear, predictable way. However, what we’ve seen over the past 10 years is that disruption is unfolding in an exponential way. Therefore, our ability to predict the future has reduced significantly. Organisational survival has also followed the same trend.

For example, in 1920 the average life of a Fortune 500 company was 65 years, today its less than 15 years and by 2030, I predict it will be less than 10 years. So if organisational size, scale and access to scarce resources don’t explain survival what does?

In my new book, I explain organisational survival in a world of accelerated change is now dependent upon the capacity to adapt. Now, this is not new to use, after all, it's the ‘Darwinian’ theory of survival. We saw this unfold during the eye of the COVID storm whereby some organisations had the capacity to adapt, and others didn’t. This leadership or organisational principle I describe as ‘juvenescence’ - the constant state of youthfulness. It’s time to get our juvenescence on.

There’s been an increased focus on the role of government and regulation in finance and financial services in the last couple of years. How did the executives and directors you spoke with feel about their role in the next decade?

Australian leaders are very optimistic and positive about the role of technology and scientific development for our future. The key issue is that they don’t have confidence that government has effective plans with industries reflecting the focus of our political system interlocked into the political cycle.

Demographic changes are rapidly reshaping both the workforce as well as its expectations from management. Are there any particular examples you can point to of where this shift is being handled well?

I think the best example is what we experienced, and still are experiencing through COVID-19. Organisations of all shapes and sizes we forced to move labour or workforce’s from a centralised model into a decentralised model and the results have been astonishing for both the worker and the organisation. That was not by demographic selection.

What we learnt was that we could easily access skills remotely and fit into new models of flexible working and address work-life in balances that Australia lags the world in.

For example, many companies are now questioning whether that still need 10 floors of CBD space or considering how the gig economy might provide the flexibility they are seeking in there workforce’s. Again, those are all about the skills, rather than the demographic of them.

Importantly as I highlight in the book, this may well be an important step to correct Australia’s declining productivity issue.

How do those in leadership positions feel about handing the baton to the next generation?

Overwhelming Australian professionals from all demographic categories feel very positive about a future led by ‘Millennials’. Interestingly, 8 per cent of Millennials don’t....go figure.

What role will Australia play in the region and world coming out of COVID?

Australia has shown the world what’s possible when it applies ‘systems leadership’. In fact, in a Sustainable Development Report 2020 report just published this week, Australia scored as an A for our response to COVID because we listened to our scientists, yet we scored a D for our response to Climate Change.

So why haven’t we listened to our scientists on climate change? It certainly wasn’t due to the absence of scientific facts; it was the absence of systems leadership.

Are there any particular changes that you think will be evident by 2030?

Every chapter in my new book includes ‘tipping points’ which are the signposts of what we can expect to see politically, economically, environmentally, regionally, demographically, trustworthingly, knowledgeably, technologically and scientifically. I’ve also dedicated a whole chapter to ‘2030 Predictions’.

The most important change is that Australian professionals are optimistic, enthusiastic and ready to embrace the technological and scientific developments of the 4th Industrial Revolution which is impacting every nation, industry, organisation and individual this coming decade.

View Rocky Scopelliti's profile