ABC News Breakfast presenter Michael Rowland has hosted a forum at RMIT to identify the challenges and opportunities facing global business.
The event, coordinated by the College of Business, brought together thought leaders from the worlds of finance, technology, energy, social enterprise and the media to explore the theme “Designing Sustainable Business Models”.
In his opening address, Professor Andrew Macintyre, Acting RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President, said: “This forum will act as a catalyst to open dialogue with industry, government and the community to provoke ideas, raise complex business issues and link concepts and possibilities to lead innovative research.”
Industry guests included: Robert Doyle (Lord Mayor, City of Melbourne), Saul Eslake (Bank of America Merrill Lynch), Christie Cooper (Channel 7), Anoushka Gungadin (The Duke of Edinburgh Awards Vic), Sarah Harland (ANZ Bank), Stephen Davy (Hydro Tasmania), Ross Hill (Cotap), and Ben Spincer (Telstra).
The discussion quickly raised the issue of adopting a new business mentality to accommodate the vast changes wrought by the digital revolution.
Several of the panellists spoke of how “feedback” and listening to the marketplace was transforming their organisation.
Sarah Harland, General Manager, Technology Group Functions, ANZ Bank, said: “Big data has huge potential to deliver insights that can help businesses stay ahead of the competition by developing innovative products and services that truly align with customer need.”
The question of how industry and research, the worlds of business and academia, could more effectively work together prompted some soul searching about the very different motivations driving these areas and the need for better alignment.
Saul Eslake, Chief Economist, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, spoke about how the funding model for universities in the United States creates a more sympathetic environment for collaboration.
He suggested Australian universities have tended to view industry engagement primarily as a means of supplementing revenue and training academics, whereas in the United States the motivation is more about providing opportunities for students and preparing them to add value in commerce.
The forum, held in the state-of-the-art Swanston Academic Building, was attended by more than 200 students, academics and industry representatives.
It was filmed for ABC Big Ideas and presented by the City of Melbourne as part of Melbourne Knowledge Week.