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Lord Mayor appoints Chief Digital Officer

10 July, 2012

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk is delivering on his promise to make Brisbane Australia’s new world city, with the appointment of a Chief Digital Officer, Kieran O’Hea, announced today.

The Lord Mayor said the position was established as a key priority following consultation with Brisbane businesses; these businesses helped form the Economic Development Plan 2012- 2031.

“Mr O’Hea will implement and execute a strategy that boosts the city’s digital technology uptake and helps cut red tape for businesses dealing with council,” Cr Quirk said.

"Brisbane is growing on a world scale and so are our businesses; they're the ones that recommended employing a Chief Digital Officer to make it easier for them to do business with council in this 24/7 economy.”
Following a rigorous and extensive global executive search, Mr O’Hea, who is moving from Ireland to take up the position, was clearly established as the leading candidate.

Mr O’Hea’s experience includes developing and delivering digital strategies for the European Commission for online projects worth 200 million euro (about $AU244m), and developing an online strategy for Tourism Ireland.

“Being appointed Chief Digital Officer of Brisbane is simply an opportunity too good to turn down,” Mr O’Hea said.

“The challenge of growing the digital economy for a major city is an opportunity that does not come along every day and hard for someone with my professional background to ignore.”

Mr O’Hea’s role will be to engage with key stakeholders, industry associations and businesses to scope out Brisbane’s digital landscape and ensure they are using technology efficiently and encouraging further digital uptake; secondly, making Brisbane a recognised hub for developing successful digital businesses; and thirdly, a focus on building capacity for Brisbane’s digital economy.

The new position will sit within Brisbane’s economic development agency, Brisbane Marketing.

Brisbane Marketing CEO John Aitken said there was an opportunity for Brisbane to better capture the advantages presented by the digital economy.

“By recognising the city’s existing and emerging digital industry and providing a direction and vision for uptake of digital technologies, we will reinforce Brisbane as Australia’s new world city,” Mr Aitken said.

Brisbane digital strategist Adam Penberthy said the number of businesses who thought digital was just about having a website and social media presence was ‘staggering’.

“The issue for Brisbane businesses lies in that there's no coordinated effort to attract funding to the city for growth in the digital sector, investment in new initiatives, and practical turn-key solutions for mum and dad businesses, helping them to go digital,” Mr Penberthy said.

“The Chief Digital Officer role will critically help open the eyes of the small to medium business sector, providing them with new ideas to digitise their businesses, working not only at a local level but on a global level, while also improving business efficiencies, promotion, product innovation and collaboration through a greater digital footprint.”

A report released by Deloitte Access Economics in August last year compared the economic value of the internet as a rival to iron-ore exports.

The report estimated that the internet contributed $50 billion, or 3.6 per cent, of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product in 2010, and the internet’s future contribution to our GDP will grow by about 7 per cent a year to reach $70 billion by 2016.

The shift in value is attributed to the use of internet for efficiency and productivity in supply management, finance, email and communications, and reaching out to new customers via internet channels and interactive websites.

Mr O’Hea’s blog can be found at www.digitigm.com.

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