Planning for today
This short sightedness shouldn't be surprising to anyone who's had to argue with architects about allowing sufficient data raisers in commercial buildings or has despaired at stingy developers condemning their projects' future occupants to years of living in powerboard infested firetraps by only installing one or two power outlets per room – something that's common in even high-priced complexes.
As well as being firetraps, these properties are limiting their potential future value as owners and tenants find it hard to connect the devices most businesses and family find are essential to modern living. This situation is going to get worse as we start to rely even more on the web and we find our incomes and livelihoods are tied to the reliability and speed of our connections.
This failure to plan for the connected economy by Australian businesses is a familiar story. Last year one of the state governments asked the tech industry what they were planning around the high-speed internet access the National Broadband Network planned to deliver. The overwhelming response was "Dunno, I guess we'll wait and see."
Last week Geof Heydon of telecommunications company Alcatel Lucent told an almost identical story of cluelessness where one of the big four banks asked its suppliers how the NBN would affect the provision of their products.
The frightening thing is the availability of reliable and fast internet is already here for most of the population, and yet the majority of the business community, not just the retail sector, seems to be ignoring these fundamental changes to our marketplaces.
Even if you don't like the NBN, or last week's news of cancelled tenders only confirms suspicions Canberra has their sums on the project hopelessly wrong, cancelling it is going to strand large chunks of regional and outer suburban Australia without access to the newer services.
We all have to ensure our business plans have provision for the changes that are happening as our customers, staff and suppliers adopt high-speed and mobile internet. Failing to do so is going to leave your business or investment stranded, just as a community without roads or high-speed broadband would be.
Paul Wallbank is one of Australia’s leading experts on how industries and societies are changing in this connected, globalised era. When he isn't explaining technology issues, he helps businesses and community organisations find opportunities in the new economy.