Almost a third of the economy faces a digital "big bang" over the next three years, pushing companies as diverse as retailers, banks and real estate agents to rethink their strategies, a new report says.
The report by Deloitte Access Economics, published today, assesses which parts of the economy are likely to see a change of more than 15 per cent in key metrics such as revenue or cost structures due to the digital revolution.
It found 32 per cent of the economy would experience such a change over the next three years, a scenario it dubbed a "big bang" on a "short fuse".
Businesses in retail, media, communications and finance were most exposed to digital disruption, the report said. Each of these sectors would experience changes of more than 35 per cent in the metrics included in the report over the next three years.
Real estate, professional services, and arts and recreation also faced a dramatic disruption, it said.
Over three to five years, a further 33 per cent of the economy - including education, health and transport – faced a similar degree of change, albeit more gradual.
Access director Ric Simes said the changes would be even greater than the removal of tariffs in the 1980s – a trend that caused major restructuring by forcing Australian manufacturers to compete with low-cost overseas producers.
"As we saw in the recent company reporting season, digital innovations are transforming the economic landscape far more profoundly than other big shifts in our economic history such as deregulation, oil shocks or mining booms,” Dr Simes said.
Citing the upheaval at Fairfax Media and News Ltd as examples, Dr Simes said some firms would have to cut jobs because of the changes.
However, he said the long-term impact on the economy was positive. Ultimately, it would lead to more higher-paying jobs and higher productivity, as was the case after the wave of deregulation in the 1980s.
"There is no doubt that the move to the digital economy is going to be adding to the economy's welfare, and adding quite substantially," Dr Simes said.