Digital innovation is the process of applying new digital technology to existing problems or practices, set to fundamentally transform industries and markets. This methodology has created enormous value globally – now accounting for 11 per cent of GDP in advanced countries – with firms worldwide adopting advanced digital technology to perform tasks faster and cheaper.

Online retail, ride-sharing and mobile telecommunications have all reshaped the global economy, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution set to create new markets, products and services in industries where Australia has significant presence.

Digital innovation over the next decade will have a broader economic impact because the core technologies, such as autonomous systems, remote sensors, machine learning and artificial intelligence, can be applied across many industries. The latest wave of digital innovation will now revolutionise traditional industries from mining to agriculture, just like past waves of innovation have reshaped the information and media industries.

Australia's digital innovation in action

Digital Twin and Mixed Reality

Defined as a virtual replica of a physical object or system, digital twins could improve product innovation and productivity by 25 per cent by 2020, according to the International Data Corporation.

The Mixed Reality component merges the real-time interactive physical and digital worlds, allowing the user to view the digital twin via a computer or augmented reality set.

“By comparing a digital twin of a manufactured object against the original design, we can quickly, accurately and cost-effectively identify defects and map entire manufacturing processes across a global supply chain,” explained Matt Bolger, Senior Software Engineer at CSIRO’s Data61.

“Defective components can be identified in real-time and corrected, while downstream processes can be adjusted to minimise the impact of delays.”

The concept of digital twin can not only digitalise the full value chain in manufacturing – design, production and distribution – but can also be applied to spatial services and disaster preparation and management

Legged hexapod robots

Emergency response teams often need to enter dangerous or confined spaces, however accessing unknown or unstable areas typically involves a higher degree of risk. CSIRO’s Data61 legged robots are designed to go where other bots and humans can’t easily access, such as a collapsed building or caved-in mine, able to safely explore and analyse dangerous areas.

One of our hexapods, Weaver, has five joints on each of its six legs, enabling it to move freely and negotiate uneven terrain easily. Weaver is also fitted with a pair of stereo cameras to create a digital elevation map of an area and detect any physical obstacles in its path, while the sensors in its leg joints can measure ground conditions, sending this information back to the team via a sequence of algorithms.

Legged hexapod robots can be used in a variety of situations, from emergency rescue operations, rainforest monitoring, aeroplane manufacturing, and mining, as exhibited in the latest DARPA Subterranean Challenge Tunnel Event.

RELATED: Why reinvention is essential in the data economy

Ceres Tag

Tracking and monitoring livestock is often a time-consuming and costly challenge. CSIRO collaborated with Ceres Tag to tackle this problem with a smart ear tag, bringing together deep technology expertise and animal science know-how.

The tag features geo-location sensing, movement and health monitoring, with the data collected from the tags translated into knowledge to improve the management of both livestock and the paddock.

The ear tags also give producers greater control over grazing management, allow them to locate livestock remotely and alert them to stock theft. The aim is to reduce operating costs, increase operational efficiency and additional financing opportunities through better management of livestock through data.

Confidential Computing

Gathering and unlocking the insights within data is hugely advantageous but it must be done ethically to preserve privacy and confidentiality. Traditional methods to solve this challenge involved anonymising and restricting access to insights. However, this significantly decreased the value of information and made sharing data difficult.

Our Confidential Computing platform combines distributed machine learning with homomorphic encryption and secure multiparty computing to provide the ability to learn models across multiple datasets without any of the data leaving its secure source i.e. without the need for organisations to disclose the data in its raw form.

This keeps the source data both private and up-to-date, with results from the encrypted calculations identical to the results processed in the clear, meaning there is no loss of accuracy due to the encryption process.

Adapting to digital innovation

Millions of workers will need to retrain and reposition their careers, as digital technology reshapes the labour market, while companies will need to redesign business processes and open new product offerings for different types of customers.

In response to these challenges, the Data61 Insight team has identified 8 high-level strategic responses to digital disruption:

  1. Accelerate. Remove barriers and reduce friction, and reset the cadence of organisational change.
  2. Automate. Develop and implement artificial intelligence for rules-based tasks amenable to automation.
  3. Migrate. Move business processes into digital models where it improves efficiency and effectiveness.
  4. Mitigate. A digital strategy to manage the downsides of cybercrime, fake news and privacy breaches.
  5. Navigate. Get better at seeing emerging digital disruptors and respond proactively.
  6. Innovate. Rapidly and continually experiment with new models.
  7. Cogitate. Work smarter not harder. Build a targeted digital R&D pipeline.
  8. Gravitate. Identify and deliver the value your customers and citizens demand.

The ‘How to navigate your organisation’s future in the digital economy’ masterclass is an essential for anyone determined to keep up in this rapidly evolving landscape, while also examining the latest in data science and technology, and its benefits for Australian business.

RELATED: How artificial intelligence will transform our world

Digital innovation opportunities

By building digital technology into existing strengths, such as agriculture or health, Australian business could develop a new suite of digital industries and products that could be be used nationally and exported worldwide.

Australian industry and business is most likely to succeed in these 8 markets, which have been chosen for their significance, feasibility, and compatibility with our existing strengths.

  • Precision healthcare
  • Digital agriculture
  • Data-driven urban management
  • Cyber-physical security
  • Supply chain integrity
  • Proactive government
  • Legal informatics
  • Smart exploration and production


D61+ LIVE, CSIRO Data61’s annual science and technology conference will explore the rise of the data-driven economy and how businesses can navigate their future in this rapidly moving landscape.

Save your seat at D61+ LIVE, 2-3 October here. Registration is free.

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