Big online player says Australian businesses must adapt to digital or perish

The CEO of one of Australia’s biggest online real estate advertising companies says businesses in the country need to adapt to the digital future in a hurry or risk being shut out by international competitors who are further ahead.

Greg Ellis, CEO of REA Group, said companies in all sectors in Australia are struggling to adapt to the digital economy and will lose market share to international rivals if they did not change their management ­strategies.

“On a bigger scale Australia needs a damn big wake-up call,” he told a Melbourne Press Club luncheon last week. “We’ve got some material competitors coming who could take a significant percentage of market share and jobs away through the strength of their digital offering.”

He said managers needed to better tap into the talent in their organisations, saying the best workers found in companies such as his were 30-year-olds familiar with the digital economy.

“There is a significant shortfall of skills to transform Australian business in the digital economy,” Ellis said. “At REA when we bring people in we have to effectively de-program from the historical techniques they have used to manage people. It’s the preparedness to push the responsibility of the decision-making down to the people below you who have the expertise.”

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