Businesses are increasingly the subject of the national conversation. They remain integral to our economy – responsible for around 70% of gross value added and over 85% of employment.1
Due to large-scale global shifts – from climate to technology to community expectations – businesses are facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty and competition. Two in five (39%) businesses surveyed say that maintaining profit margins is more difficult today than it was five years ago. A range of broader macroeconomic factors are at play, including a pick-up in global growth, but over time businesses will continue to have to battle for their profit dollars. While competition is not new, the tools for success are changing rapidly. How are Australian and New Zealand businesses placed to keep up?
Digital engagement and adoption amongst businesses has increased rapidly, and most now recognise its benefits. The next wave of technology requiring more investment, businesses face an ongoing challenge in harnessing the new opportunities these technologies bring. In coming years, automation, combined with economic and social factors will cause changes to an estimated 40-60%2 of all jobs. Yet the majority of businesses surveyed forecast no change in their employment structure over the next five years. Businesses that have not yet considered and planned for the changing face of work could face a significant transition?
It is increasingly important that businesses be mindful of their broader responsibility in order to attract and retain customers. Today, 87% of businesses are involved in at least one action to build their social responsibility profile, and in five years’ time, this is expected to grow to 94%. Two in three businesses said that their business was established with a non-financial primary goal, such as to provide work-life balance for the owner or a social purpose. While many business owners invested in ensuring that they are financially successful, this might mean different things depending on the business.
No matter what the goals, not all businesses will succeed. It is natural that some will prosper, while others will flounder. It is easy to blame this on external factors such as macroeconomic conditions, industry trends or red tape. Exactly what business will look like in the future will become clear over time. What is clear now is that businesses cannot wait – they must get ready now for the Future of Business.
Petr Adamek - CEO, CBR Innovation Network
Petr is the CEO of Canberra Innovation Network. Petr has over 20 years of international experience in helping companies innovate and grow. First as a co-founder of a successful European innovation and growth consultancy, and ex-Business Growth Manager and later CEO of a business incubator in Hamilton, New Zealand. Petr has worked with over 100 start-up companies in several leading accelerator and incubator programs in Europe, New Zealand and Australia as a mentor and business growth advisor.
Stephanie Reuss - Co- CEO & Co Founder at Beam Australia
Stephanie has been in commercial B2B roles for more than 10 years. Roles include Corporate Finance at KPMG, Management Consulting to SME businesses, Futures Trading in the Mercantile Exchange and heading the CEB Financial Services team for Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Dr Craig Latham - Deputy, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman
Craig’s experience stretches across business, academia and the public service in Australia and New Zealand. He has specialist expertise in commercial and tax law, regulatory reform, and private sector and cross-government collaboration.
Professor Genevieve Bell - Australian Anthropologist
Professor Bell is the Director of the 3A Institute, Florence Violet McKenzie Chair, and a Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University (ANU) as well as a Vice President and Senior Fellow at Intel Corporation. Professor Bell is a cultural anthropologist, technologist and futurist best known for her work at the intersection of cultural practice and technology development.
Kieran Gilbert – MC and Facilitator
Kieran Gilbert is Chief Political Reporter for SKY NEWS and anchors AM Agenda on SKY NEWS Live.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2017), Australian Industry 2015-16, cat. no. 8155.0 and Australian System of National Accounts, 2015-16, cat. no. 5204.0  Frey and Osborne 2013, The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerisation, accessed online February 2018 via http://bit.ly/2zvWqsi and KcKinsey 2017, Jobs lost, jobs gained: workforce transitions in a time of automation, accessed online February 2018 via https://mck.co/2J95zXm