Aussie public agencies doubtful of digital readiness

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Wednesday, 28 October, 2015

Aussie public agencies doubtful of digital readiness

Less than 30% of Australian public sector organisations are optimistic about their ability to respond to global trends, according to a global survey from Deloitte.

Australian respondents to the survey indicated that only 27% feel confident in their readiness to respond to digital trends, and 80% feel that their digital capabilities are behind the private sector.

On the positive side, 43% say their leadership understands digital trends and technologies, and 80% believe that digital technologies and capabilities enable employees at their organisation to work better with citizens.

“Interacting with our governments, at federal, state and local levels, should be easy, and certainly as easy doing the same with private sector organisations,” Deloitte Australia National Public Sector and Healthcare Leader Fran Thorn said.

“Australia’s public sector has actually been fairly good at moving to digitise many customer transactions, and our governments have come a long way in terms of their commitment to digital transformation.”

She said the federal government has shown its commitment to digital with the recent establishment of the national Digital Transformation Office, but added that more needs to be done to drive the development and uptake of digital technologies in government.

A recent Deloitte Access Economics report conducted by Adobe shows that if Australian government departments are able to reduce transactions over traditional channels by 20% over a 10-year period — supplanting them with digital channels — they could realise productivity, efficiency and other cost savings of $17.9 billion.

In addition, this move would lead to a further $8.7 billion worth of savings in time, convenience and out-of-pocket costs for citizens making use of the services. The cost in new ICT and transitional arrangements would by comparison be $6.1 billion.

“Australia has achieved a lot when it comes to innovation and digital engagement with customers, but we are still at a ‘developing stage’,” Thorn said.

“Having a clear coherent digital strategy, being user centric, having a strong digital-first culture and the right tech-savvy workforce skills as well as the right approach to procurement and supplier relationships will all be important if we are to continue to mature.”

She said barriers to further digitalisation by government agencies include insufficient funding, too many competing priorities and a lack of a comprehensive overall strategy.

Australian agencies also tend to use pilots for digital implementation, whereas globally a more pervasive top-down, wide-reaching approach is favoured.

Globally, nearly all (96%) public sector respondents agreed that digital technologies are having a significant impact on the public sector.

Image courtesy of Robert Pfeifer under CC

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