Australia plans to throw tons of money at … well, anything and everything

Australia plans
Image by natatravel | Bigstockphoto

Australia plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new technology, while the largest Australian telco plans to diversify, big time.

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, was first out of the traps, promising massive investment in technologies from cyber security to quantum technology to novel antibiotics. He identified 63 key technologies to revolutionise the economy and keep Australians safe, hinting at a vague threat from China, a country that has been the lifeblood of its economy for decades. We have to assume that Australia plans to do all this now because it signed up to the treaty with the UK and US to build new submarines and patrol the South China Sea.

All of that sounds good and solid, if a little over defensive and it is difficult to see where the benefits will come from. The country’s visa requirements, for a start, will have to be completely rewritten if the country is going to attract the talent that will be needed to turn huge sums of money into a totally secure, leading-edge economy, supported by leading-edge technologies.

Apart from the official announcements of the PM’s Australia plans, leading telco Telstra has unveiled its next strategic plans and they are, if you want to be polite, broad in scope.

Martyn Warwick, over at Telecom TV, has an amusing and not very polite summary of the T25 strategy and it is, indeed, pretty funny.

Essentially, CEO Andrew Penn has been playing Buzzword Bingo and has come up with a two year strategy that makes the PM’s Australia plans look boring in comparison.

Telstra wants to go ‘mano a mano’ with energy companies and the head of Energy, Ben Burge, says that it is easier for a telco to get into electricity than for a camel to, no, wait, for an energy company to get into telecoms.

Question: if that is the case, why haven’t telcos taken over the energy sector? And didn’t some telcos try this about 20 years ago? And fail.

Not content with taking on the Energy sector, Penn is going for the healthcare market. The global healthcare market. At a time when Amazon has just announced its first healthcare partner – Hilton Worldwide.

Telstra will have to join a very long queue of companies getting into that market.

And, of course, there will be the now mandatory investments in AI and analytics that will deliver a world class customer experience [pause for laughter]. This against a backdrop of continuing cost cuts, belt tightening and notoriously bad customer experiences.

Australia plans to be world class, supported by world class security and you have to sympathise with that goal. In many areas it already is world class. But when two very senior figures want to pour more money than sense into any and every technology they could find on Google (other search engines are available) then you can’t help feeling that they are simply spouting words that sound leading edge.

Time, and not a lot of it, will tell whether the Australia Plans are achievable.

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