Australia is entering a mature era of digital government

By Rafi Katanasho, APAC Chief Technology Officer at Dynatrace
Tuesday, 11 June, 2024

Australia is entering a mature era of digital government

Government agencies aim to meet their citizens’ needs as efficiently and effectively as possible to ensure maximum impact from every tax dollar invested. As part of this mission, there is a drive to digitise services across all areas of government so citizens can meet their own needs faster and with greater convenience.

While there is more to do, Australia has excelled so far in its achievement of a high level of maturity when it comes to digital government.

As was recently noted in a Parliamentary Library blog, Australia ranked fifth in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) 2023 Digital Government Index (DGI).

“This placed Australia ahead of the European Union’s digital government pioneer, Estonia, and just behind Denmark and Norway. Among the 38 countries listed in the DGI, Australia also scored first in the government services category ‘digital by design’ and received special mention for being one of only five OECD countries with an integrated approach to investments in digital technology and services,” the blog post notes.

Digital government, in the OECD context, is more than the digitisation of manual processes: it is a broader measure of how governments utilise digital to create ‘public value’.

At a federal level, Australia has set a 2030 goal “to deliver simple, secure and connected public services for all people and business through world-class data and digital capabilities”. Importantly, all states and territories — and even New Zealand — are meeting regularly to ensure cross-jurisdictional alignment in achieving this collective vision.

It is clear that the Australian public does value what it’s seeing Australian governments at all levels deliver so far.

According to research, nearly all Australians (94%) use “at least one digital government service”, with the most cited services being myGov, followed by services in health and finance.

Keeping eyes on support infrastructure

Given constraints in funding and hiring IT staff, governments require a modern platform built to operate efficiently while effectively protecting critical infrastructure and services. As a result, underpinning many digital government efforts are multicloud environments that are used to achieve the necessary speed, scale and agility to keep up with digital transformation programs of work.

While the benefits of multicloud environments are crucial to agency success, they introduce complexity and data volumes that are impossible for humans to manage alone.

For example, government agencies use an array of cloud platforms spanning 12 environments on average. This is leading to increased complexity that is felt more acutely in the government sector than in any other industry.

In a study by Dynatrace, nearly all government technology leaders (97%) reported the complexity of their technology stack has increased in the past 12 months. The same study found that 80% of government agencies are looking to consolidate the tools they use and adopt a unified platform for observability and security.

Observability has become more critical in recent years as cloud-native environments have gotten more complex. Greater complexity contributes to greater difficulty pinpointing root causes for failures or anomalies.

Observability differs from monitoring. In a monitoring scenario, teams typically preconfigure dashboards to alert about performance issues they may expect to see later. However, these dashboards rely on the critical assumption that teams can predict potential problems before they occur.

Cloud-native environments don’t lend themselves well to this type of monitoring. Their dynamic and complex nature obscures foresight of problems that might arise.

In contrast, observability enables teams to understand a system’s internal state by analysing the data it generates, including logs, metrics and traces. Full stack observability enables technology teams to identify and respond to evolving issues across the entire technology stack from mainframes to multicloud environments.

Observability driven by AI operations empowers technology teams to understand what’s happening across all these environments and among the technologies. This capability allows teams to detect and resolve issues to keep systems efficient and reliable, and citizens satisfied.

Incorporating observability into traditional monitoring approaches is essential for deeply understanding a modern multicloud system and remediating complex problems swiftly.

Combined with application performance monitoring (APM), technology teams supporting digital government are able to keep tabs on the performance of the front-end experience — mobile apps, websites and business applications — as well as the services, processes, hosts, logs, networks and end users that access these applications (including an agency’s citizens and employees). Without the combination of observability and APM tools, teams struggle to resolve the numerous problems that can arise. This increases the likelihood of constituents becoming frustrated by the poor experience and abandoning the website or app altogether.

Additionally, governments will need to maintain vigilance in their approach to security. Digital government services are often delivered via a mix of in-house, third-party and purchased software that is stitched together in a cohesive way. This can introduce gaps in observability and security on exploitable vulnerabilities in the runtime stack.

Having security and observability capabilities together in a unified platform assists governments in safeguarding their considerable digital services delivery efforts.

*Based in Sydney Australia, Rafi joined Dynatrace in 2007 and has more than 20 years’ experience in the IT industry focusing on business, application and IT service management. His experience includes working for a number of Australian-based technology startup innovators. Prior to joining Dynatrace he held a senior management position at technology startup Proxima Technology.

Top image credit: Beddoe

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