Digital platforms to reshape Australia's residential tradie economy

14 January 2019

The Australian residential tradie economy last year generated $73 billion – accounting for nearly 6% of the national GDP – with three-quarters of Australian households using the services of at least one of the nation’s more than 250,000 residential tradie businesses. But here’s a staggering figure: more than 70% of consumers still rely on word of mouth or previous personal experience when it comes to hiring a tradesperson.

Based on extensive research by management consulting firms EY and L.E.K. Consulting, taking into account both consumers and tradespeople, online service directory HiPages constructed a report titled, ‘The On-Demand Tradie Economy’, which establishes a groundwork for the current state of the residential trade industry.

While the speed with which the industry adapts to the digital landscape may justly be seen as lagging, millennials and younger generations are more willing to use online sources to both help and seek work. Of those surveyed, 53% aged under 35 said they would use a search engine such as Google to source a tradie, going against a score of 39% of the overall population. Social media, as well, has a much greater hold on younger people, with 36% of those under 35 using various platforms to seek help (compared to a scant 19% overall).

How are tradies sourced in Australia

Younger tradies are also more willing to use the internet to source work. Thirty-six percent of millennial tradies said they used the internet in some manner for their business, be it for marketing or admin. Nearly a quarter (21%) of all tradies said they expected more work from online third-party sites in the coming two years.

Digital shift

All signs point according to the researchers toward an industry shift – one that is already occurring. Tradespeople and consumers know that technology can make the residential trade industry run more smoothly. Tradespeople are also seeing more and more business originate from online sources. “Nearly half of all Australians agree that connecting with tradespeople online can be significantly quicker than traditional channels,” the report states.

This is an opinion that simultaneously touches several “pain points” of both consumers and tradies, nearly all of which can be at least somewhat alleviated by a digital shift. A great deal of these points, unsurprisingly, revolve around financials – a hesitance to pay in cash, timely payment, preparing quotes, unforeseen costs. Each is a problem that could be soothed via a regulated, third-party, online platform.

Pain points for tradies and consumers

On the tradies’ side, there is also the issue of “on the clock” time spent not making money. “Tradies cited liaising with customers as the task that they spend the most time on in an average week,” the report states. Payroll and other administrative tasks also consume time that could be spent working. On any given week, tradies spend approximately 20 hours on admin and seeking work.

“One in four tradies have been forced to give up jobs due to the burden of admin in the past 12 months, which costs them an average of $120,000 worth of business annually.”

It’s no wonder, then, that tradies are in agreement, with 70% believing that the right technology for their business could save them time and money. Platforms that connect consumers and tradespeople are the obvious answer – such platforms, in fact, already exist. Those tradies savvy enough to use them will be rewarded with more leads and less admin time, while consumers will be able to find reliable, honest help with the click of a mouse.

Globally, the market size of the platform economy is estimated to be $7 trillion, according to an analysis featured on, with the seven ‘super platforms' - Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Alibaba and Tencent - dominating the landscape.

Related: Phoenixing costs Australia’s economy $5 billion, finds PwC report.

More news on


Deloitte Digital expands into New Zealand market

29 January 2019

Deloitte has expanded its global suite of digital services into New Zealand. Building on the acquisition of Auckland-based CloudinIT, Deloitte Digital will work to provide an end-to-end offering to clients across the country.

With the lucrative global lust for digital transformation offering a massive opportunity for revenue growth, in recent years, the consulting industry has participated in a gold-rush, collectively clamouring to build its digital capacities. This has seen some of the largest professional services firms in the world rapidly assembling digital wings to help clients realise complex digital transformation projects, often leveraging acquisition campaigns in order to expedite the process.

Deloitte Digital is the digital and creative arm of giant Deloitte, and combines the Big Four firm’s internationally renowned capabilities in business transformation and technology implementation with the offerings of a world-class digital agency. With branches now in 17 different countries, Deloitte Digital launched its presence in Australia several years ago, and has since been using its studios in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Canberra to serve the entire Oceania region. However, growing demand has pushed it to develop another wing in the South-Western Pacific.

Deloitte Digital expands into New Zealand market

With digital solutions high on the agenda of executives and boards in New Zealand, Deloitte has already grown to become one of New Zealand’s larger digital advisory providers, Deloitte has now brought its digital solutions under the common umbrella with the launch of Deloitte Digital. The intention of the move is to be better placed to meet client demands, and build the firm’s business base. Among the customers the firm already serves in New Zealand are 2degrees, ASB, BNZ, Chorus, Wellington Water and the Inland Revenue.

Deloitte Chief Executive Thomas Pippos said of the move, “The reality is that our clients deal with a lot of noise around digital, and there is no shortage of thought leadership and opinion about the bleeding edge of digital transformation. But by talking and working with our clients, we’ve found some of their biggest challenges are getting the basics right; it’s about making their digital journey real with timely tangible results. This includes tackling sticky challenges like integrating old systems not made for a digital world, getting a single view of the customer and dealing with operational silos.”

The launch comes following the fruition of a number of strategic moves by Deloitte, which collectively supported the firm’s ambition to make digital a priority for its clients in New Zealand. Most recently, this saw the consulting giant complete the purchase of Salesforce partner CloudinIT to further bolster its local digital offerings, with around 25 employees integrated into the Big Four firm’s Auckland operation. Collectively, the flurry of activity aims to strengthen a digital portfolio which is rapidly expanding across the country.

Testing waters

According to Grant Frear, a Partner at Deloitte Digital, the launch and bolstering of Deloitte Digital in New Zealand comes in anticipation of a greater spike in demand for such services there. He claimed that at present, digital maturity comes in many stages across the country, which has already boosted business for Deloitte Digital, but that the majority of Kiwi businesses still in the early phase of deployment, preferring to “test the waters” with specific initiatives. This suggests that more is still to come.

“Given the sheer volume of choice, identifying where to start can put off making material progress,” Frear explained. “This ‘spinning of wheels’ along with too much focus on how to identify the next technology breakthrough can cause them to spend a lot and achieve a little.”

A new Deloitte study of global digital business, undertaken in collaboration with the MIT Sloan Management Review, recently revealed five key practices that the organisations best able to achieve digital maturity employ. Frear told business news site that these form part of a roadmap to digital success, which Deloitte will help clients in New Zealand to deploy.

He expanded, “Firstly, implementing systemic changes in how they organise and develop workforces, spur workplace innovation, and cultivate digitally minded cultures and experiences. Secondly, playing the long game. Digitally mature companies’ strategic planning horizons are consistently longer than those of less digitally mature organisations, looking out five years or more. Thirdly, scaling small digital experiments into enterprise-wide initiatives that have business impact. At digitally mature entities, small “i” innovations or experiments typically lead to more big “I” innovations than at other organisations.”

Fourthly, Frear advised Kiwi businesses to become “talent magnets” in a bid to attract and retain the best staff in the industry. He suggested, “Employees and executives are highly inclined to jump ship if they feel they don’t have opportunities to develop digital skills. Digitally mature organisations typically understand the need for, and place a premium on, attracting and developing digital talent.”

Finally, he suggested that securing leaders with the vision necessary to lead a digital strategy was essential to succeeding. He concluded, “These leaders are more likely to have articulated a compelling ambition for what their digital businesses can be and define digital initiatives as core components to achieving their business strategy.”

Related: Deloitte New Zealand promotes four new consulting directors.