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Technology | Innovation

Australia needs more entrepreneur-based innovation

Australian start-ups and entrepreneur-based innovation struggle due the country’s current regulation system and a lack of government support says Commonwealth Bank Chief Information Officer Michael Harte.

Speaking at CEDA's unleashing company intelligence event in Sydney, Mr Harte said business and government have an important role to play in "unleashing" entrepreneurship and intelligence.

"A lot of people (are) loathe to take the risk to take on entrepreneur innovation because there is a disincentive quite frankly in the current taxation system to do so," he said.

He said Australia is "peculiar" because while it is among the best countries in the world at applying technologies, it does not create new technology.

"(Australia's) application of world class technology is second to none in the OECD," he said.

"If you look at the…discovery of new algorithms, software molecules we are at the lowest in the OCED at the creation of IP (intellectual property).

"We are still lacking the X factor, how to create new capabilities and new increasing returns capability for new molecules or algorithms that can bring that (X factor)."

Australia can learn from Tel Aviv, Israel which is the second largest innovation hot-spot in the world and where technology companies receive government support, he said.

"There are thousands and thousands of people (in Tel Aviv), their main priority is to leave their institution of learning or their institution of government to start their own business," he said. 

On the topic of business intelligence in the digital age, NICTA Director of Broadband and the Digital Economy, Terry Percival said understanding different types of data are important.

"It's not just about the data you hold, it's about all sources of data," he said.

"There's the customer interactions, the purchasing power if you're in retail Australia, customer service…what people look for on your website, what are your internal business processes, they give you insight into business."

Government data is also an important tool for business and there is information about demographics and transport data available to the public, he said.

"Not to be ignored is government data, we use a lot of the Australian Bureau of Statistics data and all governments are on the data bandwagon….they are all trying to put their data out there," he said.

Westfield Director of Information Technology, Peter Bourke said the company has also become focused on data.

"We've been very focused on the data, the information and a clear understanding of what was happening to our retailers," he said.

In recent years, technology and the rise of online shopping have expanded their business focus to include shoppers as well as retailers, he said.

"As we've seen online shopping, online show rooming and a continual focus on using technology to supplant some of the traditional methods of the shopping and retail experience we have…extended our focus to work very closely in understanding of what the shoppers consume," he said.

He said data collection is very important to Westfield because it pertains to retailers and spending habits.