Retail trade along with the finance, professional services and information, media and telecommunications industries are expected to face both significant and imminent digital disruption as they grapple with the technology transformative reality.

Deloitte’s Digital Disruption – Short Fuse, Big Bang report looked at 18 industries and compared their vulnerability to disruption from two perspectives: the size of the impact (the bang) and the imminence of change (the fuse).

According to Deloitte chief executive officer Giam Swiegers, mastering digital disruption would be vital to Australia’s future prosperity, particularly for these six industries that make up a third of Australia’s $1.4 trillion economy.

“We have to use technology intelligently to get the most out of our people and our unique assets,” he said.

Deloitte has suggested in the report third parties or competing internal systems can focus on discrete parts of a business and find new ways to add value. In retail, for instance, there are now often clear distinctions between items such as pictures of merchandise, the websites that present them and the payment systems used by customers. Digital retailers can also more readily partner with existing and emerging logistics, payment and mobile providers to increase efficiency or find new routes to market.

Deloitte Technology leader Robert Hillard said the biggest risk for any organisation was inaction in the face of new digital realities.

“The digital age is a confusing and confronting one,” he said. “What were reasonably defined boundaries for both private and public sector organisations and industries will change, if they haven’t already,” he said.

“What used to feel like strengths can become weaknesses if leaders are not prepared to constantly disrupt and innovate and have the customer or client at the centre of everything they do.

“Defending past business models is not the mentality of the digital survivor, and engaging in new, innovative and maybe even disruptive approaches to market is, and will be, an absolute necessity.

“For some, digital disruption will be explosive and immediate – a force that rocks the foundations of their business. For others less vulnerable to digital trends, the changes will be slower and more subtle. For others again, digital innovation will be the cornerstone for future value creation.

Hillard also said it was critical for organisations to take a granular view and that digital innovation would not affect every industry in the same way.

“Even within industries, companies with different business models face very different issues,” he said.

“And even within one enterprise, different business units may find themselves more or less exposed, both in terms of threats, and opportunities.”

To view the report in full, click here.