• Photo by John Tekeridis.
    Photo by John Tekeridis.
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Australians will spend $85 billion on personal tech products and services this year – a 2.6 per cent increase on 2017, according to Sydney’s Pollen Consulting Group.

And a similar trend is underway within the industry, with spending on smart factories, smart robotics, and smart machines also on the rise, according to the group’s director Danny Van D’Huynslager.

Moreover, the two trends are on a collision course, he says. “By 2020, 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of Things,” he told attendees at Sydney event Pollenation by the Pool.

A big growth area will be voice commerce, he predicts, with users of Alexa and Google Assistant expected to become more and more willing to follow through on the smart speaker’s recommendations of products and services.

Food companies could do more to help ease their journey, according to D’Huynslager.

“We need a more seamless experience for consumers, and food companies need to be willing and available when users connect with brands via smartphones and speakers.”

“We are shifting from a wholesale model to a direct-to-consumer model, a same-day model to a same-hour model, and a physical to a digital inventory of products and services.”

Beak & Johnston CEO Ray Hanly told attendees that while automation and value-added activities would come in good time, there is currently a cost barrier.

One solution, CoVentured CEO Nick Dunford says, is for corporations to look outside their organisations to the start-up world to outsource R&D, rather than trying to second-guess what will work in the market.

“Start-ups have nothing to lose and can afford to fail fast – as opposed to larger corporations who have everything to lose,” he says.

Independent consultant to KPMG Mark Barr says there’s a real opportunity for mid-sized companies to back innovations and break through to new markets.

“Big corporates such as PepsiCo seem to have started to collaborate with start-ups to push forward,” he noted. “This is the way to go.”