Smart money is on new technology

PENRITH Business Alliance hosted a forum on innovation at Penrith RSL Club last Friday, when 120 people discussed the need for organisations to evolve with the online world.

One of the guest speakers, Deloitte Access Economics associate director John O'Mahony, told the Star it was important to be innovative and capitalise on technology in the current "digitial economy".

"It's very important that business leaders, governments and other agencies embrace change because it's coming very quickly," Mr O'Mahony said.

"Over the next four years, it is forecast that the amount of traffic that will be going over smartphones, such as an iPhone or an android, is going to increase seven-fold.

"That's not a seven per cent increase: it's a 700 per cent increase in traffic and with all those extra devices, with all those apps, with all that mobile commerce that'll be going on, if businesses aren't thinking about how they can be part of it, they are likely to be left behind."

While the digital economy may pose a threat, Mr O'Mahony said it also provided businesses with fresh prospects and possibilities.

"There are a lot of opportunities — whether it's in new media, finding new ways to connect with your customers or using new ways to deal with your staff," Mr O'Mahony said.

"The government has an objective of doubling telework from six per cent of the population to 12 per cent by 2020 and I think it's a very interesting area with a lot of opportunities for Penrith."

Mr O'Mahony said an example of a company thriving in the digital economy was Shoes of Prey.

It connects with its customers online by allowing them to design and purchase their own shoes — right down to colour, size and fabric.

"Over the next couple of decades Penrith is going to grow," Mr Mahoney said.

"It will be the epicentre of a new economy in western Sydney of up to a million people.

"It's a big group of customers but it's also a big pool of potential workers and some of those jobs will come directly to Penrith.

"In a recent local government survey here, the number one priority of the community was to bring more jobs to Penrith and I'm confident Penrith has a bright future in the age of the digital economy."

Penrith Business Alliance chief executive officer Bijai Kumar said the alliance was "not in the forum game" but after the success of last week's event, he was keen to consider holding forums on innovation regularly.

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