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Telephone calls will soon be obsolete, Google predicts
15/08/2012 - The voice-only telephone call will be as obsolete as a posted letter within a decade, the head of Google Australia has predicted. Peter Trute
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Another online leader has also warned most Australian businesses are failing to adapt to the online world and risk finding themselves on the wrong side of a looming "digital divide".
Google Australia managing director Nick Leeder says the internet is shifting from a text-based medium to an audio and video-based one as people change how they interact with each other.
"I think the idea of a phone call in 10 years' time without video may well be considered a thing of the past, a bit like posting a letter," Leeder told an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce function in Sydney on Tuesday.
He said infrastructure, such as the National Broadband Network (NBN), had a role in providing the capacity to handle increased web traffic.
"That's going to require lots of broadband (and) it's not just about speed today, it's about the capacity of the networks to carry traffic," he said.
Without increased capacity, people would be complaining about internet congestion just as they complain about road congestion, he said.
"The consumption of broadband capacity is growing very quickly in this country."
Leeder appeared at the function with Tim Reed, chief executive officer of business software company MYOB.
Reed said while some companies have seized the opportunities of an increasingly connected community, the majority of Australian businesses are "struggling".
"It's still less than 40 per cent of Australia's businesses that have a website," Reed said.
"We did some research recently and it showed most Australian businesses are struggling: two businesses are having revenue decline for every one that is having revenue growth at the moment.
"But you are 50 per cent more likely to be in the group where your revenue is growing if your business has a website."
Reed warned the business community was approaching a point of "digital divide".
"It's going to have nothing to do with infrastructure, it's going to have to do with the ability of business managers to cope and prosper in this environment.
"Those that put it front and centre as a core part of their strategy are already doing better than those that don't."
Reed said the gap would widen as bandwidth and internet speeds, which will grow with the NBN, improved and consumers conducted more business online.
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Ross Williams | 15/08/2012 10:34 1
Who's out of touch here? Websites are part of business infrastructure.Some businesses are net-suitable, some are not and some are works-in-progress. Not all business downturn can be blamed on internet facilities - first there was the GFC and then this country has been hovering around a recession for 2 years.The Internet hasn't fixed eco-crises - in any country on the planet.And the NBN sure ain't going to fix speeds - it will be 1/3 of the speed of South Korea by the time it is rolled out. Of course we get the same old hoary crap about tech-transfer - so why is radio, mail and TV booming when all the boffins said they would die. Google should just shut up and concentrate on making a decent search engine - if you Google 'Australia XXXX' the first 10 pages are .coms, .uk, .calathumpia etc - anything but Australia. Experts - who needs 'em !
Adam Donnelly | 15/08/2012 11:16 2
I agree with Ross. As a small business owner in the service sector having a website doesn't help much at all. Most of the business you get is through trust. If you google a service in your area you have to sift through a lot of rubbish to find what you want. For some industries a lot of people would prefer to find you in the phone book or through word of mouth. It gets a bit tiresome hearing product salespeople trying to tell you how to sell a service. It is a whole different ball game when the main factor is trust.
Kermit | 15/08/2012 11:32 3
Investment in Australian human capital has been driven down by successive governments (everyone has a bit of equity, but no one has CAPITAL or CASH in the bank), we all have a smart phone..but access to the world has been denied us, after 24 years in the IT business I cannot believe how digitally inept the average person is. At a faster and faster rate we see opportunities disappear....we are now seeing the "checkout chick" disappear to be replaced by self scan. Where will these people go for part time work (I refuse to use the scanner, I have time to wait and principles), On a recently trip OS I visited a massive shopping centre in Milan, Italy...in the three hectare supermarket the only people working there were people on fork lifts loading the shelves, everything was automated. The only animates were the shoppers...profitable YES! but at what cost to society..? Reduce cost means employ less people. So where do people get a job to buy the "stuff' that is in the supermarket (food). If we replace shops with online, make goods in China, employ workers from the developing world (to the mundane jobs, normally done by the average person), employ less Australians (by introducing technology) and still advertise - BUY MORE for LESS (less than what?). How will this sustain the country. Service industries only succeed if people have money (credit) to pay for service. For example, How many people depend on the "silly 'ole letter" as mentioned in the article for income? - from the post office staff, to the transport, to the sorting, to the wily man on the motor bike delivering the mail. Is this service under threat too Mr. Google?....What does a discarded "Postie" do with his life....are we really making things better or are we adopting cost cutting and better technology because "we can"???....Think about how the average Australian will pay a mortgage, raise a family, educate children to even higher and higher qualifications....it's not the top 10% (at university) that are a concern, they will survive, it is the ever expanding 60% who rely on the top 20% (business) for a job that should concern us (the social divide is ever expanding). There are no silver bullets from the social engineering department to fix this one (yet or even on the horizon)....technology and the computer world provide the tools to make our life "easier"....but it takes people, the forgotten component in the equation to make it all work....and MONEY!!!!!
Rum Charles | 15/08/2012 11:42 4
Ross you are a little old school. Mail is not booming, ask Australia post about the volume of letters they distribute now as opposed to ten years ago. All businesses are "net-suitable" as the digital age is all about how we communicate internally and externally, not being net- suitable is like saying a business is not telephone suitable 50 years ago. Having a work in progress website does not aid in an organisations marketing, not having a website at all like 40% of companies is an unacceptable statistic for Australia in the 21st century. I agree that business conditions have not been ideal but we are in a much, much better situation than most developed counties and not just because we dig stuff out of the ground, we do have a vibrant innovative, forward thinking economy in Victoria and NSW. My personal belief about manufacturing is that the problems with the sector are multiple. 1) cheaper labour costs in other counties- not much we can do about that except provide value add to products and find a niche market who wants your services as well as products. Australia has an aging population, with many manufacturing companies owned and managed by people (mainly men) over 50 who are slow to adapt or understand new technology. A real lack of customer focus or an understand of clients changing needs and wants, coupled with an attitude of fear of the unknown. The stifling of creativity and innovation leading to gen Y and Z not wanting to work in the sector. Imagine interviewing a 21 year old and they ask what software you are using and you say windows 95 or what interactivity do you have on your website and you say we don't have a website or its a work in progress, or what CRMS do you use and you have to ask whats that. Oh and in closing TV is not booming in fact it is fighting for any kind of relevance at all and radio is struggling to redefine it's self and find any audience under 30 years of age. Manufacturing is not dying, it simply needs to change to reinvent it's self for the future. Mankind no longer lives in the industrial age, we will in the information age but someone has forgotten to tell half the working population of Australia.
Kermit | 15/08/2012 12:15 5
Yes! Rum ...all sounds brilliant....Information and wild sexy interactive web pages accessible from anywhere and everywhere!....and getting better all the time! ....BUT, the big BUT.... if the industrial world is passing us by, what on earth are we doing to build the capital (human and physical) to keep everyone employed to use (and buy) this "stuff". Service industries serve the people, information technology informs us....but somewhere, some how we have to build capital or equity to pay for it all and to PAY the PEOPLE who use it....HOW do you propose we do that? We can only draw water from a well for so long...then it has to be replenished?????
Adam Donnelly | 15/08/2012 14:29 6
Australia has a very high percentage of small businesses. A lot of these are family businesses that are happy to stay small. I think this is the reason more than anything why there is such a large number of businesses without websites. To assume they don't have web sites because they are "old school" or not tech-savvy is not only wrong but it completely misses the point. Not everyone needs a website to grow their business & not everyone wants to grow into a large company. Anyone can fill a website full of praise for their business but as most small business owners realise customers will see right through this if they aren't performing. Technology has its place to help better, more efficient performance but a lot of small businesses don't get much return for a website & google optimisation. There is no point paying for marketing to turn customers away because you're already busy. There are also many people who appreciate personal service & that's why they use the small local business.In the service industry I work in, surveys have shown that more customers will find you in either the phone book or the local paper than through an internet search & the reason they give for this is its quicker. There may be other reason for this as well but to dismiss what a customer wants or doesn't want because you think they are wrong or "old school" is just bad business.
Ross Williams | 15/08/2012 15:36 7
Some very good stuff raised here and some points that need clarifying. Firstly 'mail' is booming - fewer letters of course, but the main delivery method for internet sales is mail. Australia Post reports consistent annual growth. Radio is booming - there are now 12 times as many radio stations in Australia as there were when the internet was introduced - and the revenues, adjusted for inflation, are vastly higher.Digital radio is expanding this further. TV, far from languishing, has merely split into multiple modes. And is making more money than anyone dreamed of in the 70s. In every developed country in the world people still spend more time watching their lounge-room screen than their computer screen. And the gap is barely closing.And the more the internet expands, the more it benefits TV - just look at the current trend to TV social interaction. But the biggest problem of all is the random use of general statistical data to support a hypothesis. There are thousands of businesses that cannot get any traction from the internet - think half the shops in your local shopping centre (the burger joint, the paper shop, the coffee shop). Others that don't need it. And for others it would be a criminal waste of time and money. Of course, there are many companies that can and should benefit and many companies who have yet to climb on the internet 'bankwagon' who should be there. But it is not a vanishing point. Anyone can do it at any time. And the IT gurus still need to do a hell of a lot of work to turn their medium into a user-friendly, efficient and viable marketing device for many companies. Google, Microsoft, Facebook and kin being major contenders.
Rum Charles | 15/08/2012 22:18 8
Hi Kermit yes you are right, I propose we do more training (after all I do run a training company) re-skilling the population is very important, but I do not look to government to do this it is the responsibility of companies and individuals to take up and offer good training. Investing in physical infrastructure is important but people find it hard to let go of the past, for example logging old growth forest really needs to stop right now, but then you get the loggers with powerful lobbying groups fighting to keep their current jobs, or the car industry. Australia is too small for a car industry yet the government spends millions of dollars propping up an unsustainable industry rather than invest in something worthwhile that will reap rewards in the future. Also manufacturing could do things a lot better which would make them much more competitive.
Rum Charles | 15/08/2012 22:31 9
Hi Adam I fully agree and understand that Australia has a high number of small and micro businesses(I am one myself). I am not looking to get stuck on websites its more technology in general, but I will say this for websites, yes people still like the phone and its not going away, people still like local, but people also like to use the web to research etc just ask any retailer. Having a website does not mean that an organisation can deliver bad customer service or produce shoddy products, or take on too much work. Being small is no excuse for being backward either.
Rum Charles | 15/08/2012 22:43 10
Hi Ross I like your stat's they go a long way to explain what i'm saying unless Aussie post changed its method of business to capitalise on all the packages being sent as people bought products on line it would be in real trouble, The radio stations are using digital systems to broadcast giving more choice to listeners. And TV has morphed into something completely different, that screen in the lounge room is not just used for watching what the networks dish up it spends a good deal of time screening YouTube, movies (from online and disk)looking at home movies and pictures. not to mention the fact people can choose what to watch when. so I think we are in broad agreement.
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