Pi day – Random infinite impact on corporate R&D as ideas approach the speed of light

Paul Van Bergen, Partner R&D Tax
Paul Van Bergen, Special Council, KPMG Western Sydney

3/14 is Pi Day, observed today because in the day/month date format 3, 1, and 4 are the first three significant digits of π. Pi is calculated by the relationship between the diameter (a straight line) and the circle (curved line). The result is the same number no matter how large the circle is. Pi is a random number that carries on infinitely and unlike history never repeats itself.

Today is also Albert Einstein’s 139th birthday.

Einstein’s theory of relativity is most famously encapsulated in the equation e=mc2.  When published in 1905, long established scientific thinking was turned on its head. Einstein was indeed an early disruptor.

But it took recent advances in technology to prove his theories, such as the existence of gravitational waves first detected in 2015. Others seemingly confusing theories are, the mass of an object increases in relation to speed, which doesn’t translate to the faster we run the fatter we get, and the energy needed to speed up matter increases exponentially.

Unlike matter, ideas do not accumulate mass as they spread.

Indeed the cost of idea development is amortised over a large global population with ideas able to create entirely new business models. Businesses now face the reality that massive computational power, cloud based distribution models, venture capital and business models mean innovation and disruption are the new normal.

On Pi Day – what does this mean for business and their advisers?

In a new disrupted world, technology will take over repeatable work – well designed software, artificial intelligence and adjacent technologies will rule. This enables 100 percent coverage of all business transactions. Data and analytics tools will enable new insights to influence business decision making; it will be collective data rather than collective minds that drives future decisions.

Already in many countries the vast majority of tax payers do not file tax returns where deduction at source and real time feeding into tax systems has eliminated the need for tax agents.

Lower entry costs through cloud computing and software as a service models means established businesses and start ups can test and learn innovative technologies and disruptive business models. Global markets mean that rapid scaling is possible.

Like the infinite series of integers that Pi creates, companies need to think about the infinite possibilities of the future.

Plan your R&D, capture and securely share new knowledge in real time and scan your industry for the random events of imminent competitors or collaboration opportunities.

Government policy may well encourage collaborative behaviour with the report into Australia’s innovation system by the heads of Innovation and Science Australia proposing additional incentives for collaboration with universities and our higher research sector.

Take time on Pi Day to think about the infinite possibilities new technology could bring, who to collaborate with and how to turn ideas into profitable opportunities. Just like Pi – the opportunities are endless.

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