The next wave of digital innovation will be driven by technologies that collect, manage, analyse and use large amounts of data. If Australia seizes the opportunity of data-driven technology, billions could be unlocked in gross economic value over the next decade. This article explores why organisations must adapt to a data-driven economy, the results that data can deliver, and the technology and tools needed to gain and implement insights.


As the world becomes more connected, intelligent and technology-centric, data is becoming a valuable and essential asset. Businesses and companies are detecting, collecting, and analysing vast amounts of information, with the Internet of Things and portable devices being the main drivers behind this growing commodity.

Worldwide examples of digital technology adoption have delivered enormous economic results, with South Korea and Taiwan experiencing rapid economic growth after fostering their electronic equipment manufacturing industries.

Silicon Valley in the US became world-renowned for online platforms and software development, while India has emerged as a popular location for internet-enabled outsourcing of business processes. 

As digital interconnectedness continues to accelerate, the need to transform and adopt new business models to capitalise on this opportunity is key – and Australia must act.

Digital innovation can deliver $315 billion in gross economic value to Australia over the next decade, according to a 2018 report from AlphaBeta Advisors commissioned by CSIRO’s Data61.

The study flagged Australia needs a new vision for digital success to capture the full benefit of this data-driven revolution. And actively developing new digital opportunities in industries, where Australia is already globally competitive, is how we can gain a considerable advantage Data61


There are four sources of economic value Australia can harness: digital capital investments, productivity output from better use of digital technology, domestic digital industries and exporting new digital products and services.

Australia can leverage its research strengths to improve its innovation performance by addressing four policy imperatives.

First, we can compete against the scale of global business by focusing our capacity to strategic areas. Precision healthcare, digital agriculture, data-driven urban management, cyber-physical security, supply chain integrity, practice government, legal informatics and smart exploration and production are eight industries that could deliver sizeable digital economic growth.

Second, improve the effectiveness of limited investments by increasing coordination and business investment activity. Research shows that R&D investments are much more effective if businesses are involved, while weak levels of collaboration between industry and research is a primary flaw in Australia’s innovation system according to Innovation Science Australia.

Third, Australia must convert research expertise into industry leadership by improving its rate of product innovation, with only a miniscule amount of Australian firms introducing a truly new product.

Finally, capturing global opportunities by increasing market awareness and international collaboration, for instance, taking advantage of our research expertise, proximity to booming economies (China) and historically close relationships with advanced state economies (UK and US).

Australian innovation in action

The recently launched CSIRO Data61 Mixed Reality Lab in Melbourne can digitalise manufacturing’s full value chain – design, production, and distribution – enabling real-time situational awareness and better decision making and planning, while livestock monitoring and tracking device Ceres Tag collects data from its intelligent ear tags to improve and streamline animal management and care.

CSIRO’s Data61 Robotics and Autonomous Systems group has developed world-leading machines that have enhanced Australia’s aerospace, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas and biosecurity firms through the use of piloted and autonomous devices that are better suited to dangerous, inaccessible and risky environments than human labourers.

While AutoDensity, a Data61 and University of Melbourne innovation, is a fully automated breast density measurement software capable of analysing digitised mammogram images to identify dense regions within the breast. It works across image formats, mammogram machines brands and image formats. This makes it possible to assess breast density in a standardised way from different clinics, analyse older mammogram films that have been digitised, track individual woman over time, and study the role of breast density in long-term breast cancer risk.

Responsible innovation

The protection of information about individuals or groups gained from data-driven insights must be restricted or carefully controlled, with our work in the area creating products, such as Confidential Computing, to improve the protection of sensitive information of Australian citizens, while also enabling vital research and analysis. A suite of technologies applies encryption or secret sharing, distributed machine learning, and private record linkage to enable the generation of insights from sensitive data held by multiple sources that do not wish to disclose that data to any third party, or each other.

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.

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.

Save your seat at D61+ LIVE, 2-3 October here. Registration is free. Data61

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