Microsoft Joined-Up Innovation event, National Gallery, Canberra

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It’s great to be here and I’d like to acknowledge my parliamentary colleagues Jason and Julie and to all of you, thank you for your interest.

This is a real area of passion for me and it’s one that Pip and I share many stories about.

Pip touched on a few things that are close to my heart including productivity, innovation, and competition.

They are all great words and in public life we love these words.

There used to be a time when I was first elected, when you couldn’t talk about the trajectory of the economy without mentioning value add.

But they are very important and they are so important that they deserve more time spent on not just articulating them, but operationalising them and that is why I think the work that we are launching, the research and this collaboration is so important.

We have to do this to maintain our living standards.

If we are going to grow the economy at a rate that we need to produce the wealth to sustain that great gift of living in our country, we really need to get this right and innovation is going to be a key driver of that.

I share Pip’s view, that as the engine room of the economy, so much of that will come from smaller businesses.

But it’s not just enough to hope it happens.

We will hear tonight from some outstanding leaders and I use the word leaders in its broader sense.

They are the pathfinders that we need to celebrate, that we need to elevate, that we need to share the stories about so that others can think ‘you know I can maybe do that too.’

There’s experience and wisdom in the set-backs that the incredible value of perseverance that in so many of our corporate metric analysis doesn’t get terribly well rewarded and then certainly if there is a suboptimal outcome, which sounds so much better than failure, we tend to not think gee we haven’t peaked early but we can peak. And we will go again.

We look for precision and perfection at the first instance and these are some of the cultural things that I think we need to focus on and that are touched on in this report.

The report is spectacular – I mean who wouldn’t want to see 6.2 million jobs and $770 billion worth of transformation where we can get SMEs globally to embrace innovation and opportunity.

For us the dividends are fantastic, adding half a percent to real wages and the GDP benefits.

This is a delicious set of possibilities but we need to work out how to reach them and make them our own.

This is the sort of thing that drives much of our thinking.

I could run through an extraordinarily gripping presentation about the Budget and talk about how we’re trying to get the Budget back in shape.

But seriously, we are trying to do two things and one of those is to energise the economy by shifting expenditure to investment and capability development through programs that are more suitable for small business.

We were just talking about that before and I know a few people have already stopped me and said they are busting to get a piece of the Entrepreneurs Infrastructure Program (EIP) and asked me not to let them down.

We need to make sure that the EIP is in reach of those smaller businesses that could benefit greatly from the good things and a number of other programs.

But optimising SME uptake of ICT is a crucial goal.

I won’t mention another technology company, just their advisers Deloitte Access Economics.

I was involved with the release of their report last year and again we were fighting for those businesses that were making fuller use of ICT and internet engagement to have that embedded in their business.

Their business outcomes were spectacularly better than those that were less inclined, with less of an appetite and with less of an ambition.

They were two times more likely to be growing in revenue and earning two times more revenue per employee than those businesses with low ICT engagement.

As job creators, the prospects for hiring and growing their employment numbers was very high compared to those with low engagement.

Even business resilience, you know when things are a bit NQR in the economy, these are the businesses that have a chance to market and develop a business strategy that sees them more resilient and able to secure a growth profile sooner as those opportunities are there.

So that’s a real focus for me and I’ll let you in on a bit of a secret if you just want to lean slightly forward. Small businesses are spectacularly weary of vendors. That’s a hot tip and we’ve picked up on it.

If someone comes in and says we’ve got some kit and capacity for you, more than likely small businesses are thinking ‘I know about the hardware but what does it mean for my business?’

And I come back to my point earlier – this is where we need the pathfinders who can say I work in the same sector and have used this capability to optimise and energise my business.

I’ve used this kit and capability and isn’t the hardware spectacular, oh you should see my bandwidth it is spectacular.

As nice as that is, that is not about how it is operationalising the business. It is not how we embed that capability in the business strategy.

This is not how we say to those who are already hesitant that they should think twice and not because the vendors are saying it, but because their competitors are showing what it has done for their business.

For Malcolm and I, our Minister for Communications, this is a real priority for us because it is no good having the hardware, it’s no good having the capability if we haven’t got deployment and operationalisation of it.

That’s why our digital enterprise program is about trying to showcase relevant case studies to give people that encouragement.

I was one of the peanuts that used those low energy lights very early in the piece, I adapted very early to technology.

But my wife’s not the slightest bit interested in that because they weren’t very good LEDs.

She said ‘sweetheart that’s the kitchen – you’ve given me mood lighting.’ Or to use Pip’s words, not quite fit for purpose.

So my wife is a little reluctant and there are some in the small business community where the promise of the technology hasn’t been brought out, where the spending hasn’t given the momentum to their business.

What about TEASE? Technologically Enabled and Activated Small enterprises?

Here’s the stuff, here’s how it works, here’s how it’s driven innovation, here’s how it’s helping us to turbocharge our economy and achieve what we are celebrating in our speakers tonight. Business as usual, as it’s traditionally known, will not build the strength and the innovation and the energy in the economy that we need.

Innovation needs to be inculcated in every enterprise. It’s a commercial imperative, a strategic priority that is the new business as usual, to be open to these opportunities and hungry to make the most of them.

That’s the report we are launching tonight and we are celebrating some outstanding heroes who are the pathfinders.

Have a lovely evening and thank you for having me along.