The change maker

12 Nov 2012

Author: Brad Howarth

Photography: Pierre Toussaint


Starting a company is difficult, and changing the direction of an existing one can be even harder. Colin Griffith has already done it once at the ABC, and now he is hoping to achieve something similar for every other Australian business.
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It was while working as a strategic advisor at the ABC in the mid-1990s that Griffith started to notice the changes in the media landscape being wrought by pay TV and the internet. He had first used the internet in the mid-80s to collaborate with colleagues in the UK, and the potential of the World Wide Web caught his eye.

Griffith was able to convince others in the organisation of the internet’s importance, and for his trouble was given the task of setting up and running its online division. In a cash-strapped organisation, his success in securing resources against some stubborn resistance was remarkable.

Griffith now heads up the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation (ACBI), a $30 million, three-year joint venture between the research organisations CSIRO and NICTA.

“The goal is not just to leverage the capabilities of CSIRO and NICTA from a research point of view, but to try and develop practical demonstrator projects with industry partners, where we can learn about what we can do with ubiquitous, high-capacity broadband,” Griffith explains. “A big part of this is looking at the evolving service and business models. We want to have some small-scale impact, but also think, what are the bigger opportunities and challenges for Australian companies and organisations?”

That includes helping some companies get ready for change within its focus areas of health and ageing, media, agriculture, government and business services.

Griffith hopes that ACBI can bring its research partners into a more collaborative engagement with industry to drive broadband-led change into Australian business.

If he could do it successfully at the ABC, who says he can’t succeed again?