Early disrupters of the classifieds industry, the REA Group is calling for Australia to embrace its digital future and for Australians to pull the government towards technology enabling policies.
“REA is in a place now that enables us to reflect on how Australia really needs to be a lot more innovative and developing new businesses and industries,” chief information officer Nigel Dalton told StartupSmart.
Citing the recent announcements that Toyota and Holden would stop making cars in Australia and Alcoa closing its aluminium smelter in Geelong and rolling mills, Dalton says it’s clear the economy is changing.
“We want to help drive this transformation, both here and beyond Australia,” Dalton says. “Geography isn’t an issue. Just because we’re at the bottom of the world doesn’t mean we won’t be able to change things in global businesses.”
Dalton says while the government can help the Australian economy to pivot by investing in infrastructure to deliver a strong digital backbone, REA is expecting consumers and citizens to be the real drivers of transformation.
“We hope in the 21st century citizens will start to lead how countries develop by pulling the economy in different directions. Whether it’s a software developer or a consumer who demands transparency, that’s how we see the future evolving.”
Dalton says there is probably no industry that wouldn’t benefit from smart disruption, but points particularly to medical, education and food as ripe for a re-working.
They recently backed Food Orbit, a start-up connecting farmers to restaurants directly.
“If Australia has a digital character, it’s about solving a problem in a clever way with simple tools. (Founder) James and Food Orbit are a great example of this. They’re giving smaller businesses a fair shot at competing with big companies,” Dalton says.