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Brisbane program gets a roadmap to become a leading digital city


‘Go digital’ is an easy, and obvious, mantra today. Brisbane embarked on it last year. But how exactly should one go about it?

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk unveiled the Digital Brisbane Strategy to “fast-forward Brisbane into the multi-trillion dollar global digital economy.”

Digital Brisbane has adopted a three-pronged strategy:

Digital Business Power-up Program – This aims to bring businesses up to speed on digital technologies with the specific goal of doubling in five years the number of Brisbane firms selling products and services online. It also seeks a 35% improvement in productivity growth via use of digital tecnologies. The program will provide more than 4,000 businesses with face-to-face digital training and information forums, and a further 30,000 people through web-based support tools per year.

Digital Startup Kick-start Program. Digital Brisbane will mentor and nurture 50 promising local digital startups, besides awarding financial grants and linking them with investors. Among other things, it will run a Coderdojo program in city libraries to encourage hundreds of young people to master digital coding, host several conferences starting with TechConnect this April and revive the CLICK! Digital Expo in partnership with Regional Development Australia.

Cyber City Program. The broad program aims a wide and pervasive deployment of digital technologies to help residents and tourists navigate the city.

“I see this as starting a focus of digital that will flow across the city and influence our priorities and our mindset,” Quirk said. “I want Brisbane to become known as a city for digital participation, innovation and education. Many of our businesses already embrace the digital age but the city needs to act to speed the pace of change and help our business community to make the transition.”

Digital Brisbane’s strategy has, perhaps, been shaped by a state-of-the-city digital audit by Ernst & Young, in partnership with University of Queensland. The audit, which surveyed 500 small-medium enterprises, found that:

  • 80% of the SMEs believe they are “engaged in the digital economy”
  • 30% sell products and services online
  • 55% do not have a documented digital strategy and do not see the need for one
  • 24% have seamless integrated customer engagement across face-to-face, mobile and online channels

The audit also identified “Digital Champions” – ranging from Domino’s Pizza to Virgin Australia – who are expected to be evangelists for other businesses.

“I urge every business to start the digital conversation today and ride the wave of opportunity. Brisbane needs to have a digital state of mind and a burning ambition to lead, innovate and boldly embrace the future,” Quirk exhorted, adding that the Digital Brisbane program would kick off immediately.

The Digital Brisbane program will be led by Chief Digital Officer Kieran O’Hea, a veteran of digital strategy development at corporate, public sector and municipal levels in Ireland and abroad. Most recently, he developed the Digital Capability Framework for the European Commission.