Government support essential for business digital readiness
By Chris Osborn, Australian Federal Director and WA & SA Regional Director, Dell Technologies, ANZ
Friday, 14 January, 2022
The past two years have seen a massive shift in the way government approaches technology, partly due to the pandemic and partly because of a stated ambition to progress the digital economy.
This shows no sign of abating in the year ahead, with Gartner expecting Australian government sector IT spending to grow 8.8% in 2022. Driving this expenditure is a need to improve the responsiveness and resilience of public services, build a better national cyber response, adopt emerging technologies and ensure regulation keeps pace with technology.
In Australia, the $1.2 billion Digital Economy Strategy announced in this year’s Federal Budget aims to support investments in emerging technologies. This is important because of the role the public sector can play in reigniting business innovation, incubating promising organisations and supporting economies with strategic investments.
It needs to be done with an eye to not just responding to the current challenges, but to ensure both business and government are prepared for the next ones.
Moving beyond the reactive
The good news is that this is not some doomsday prepping scenario. Creating the agility and responsiveness to respond to future challenges will also allow organisations to adapt to changing customer demands.
Think how much the move to the ‘work from anywhere’ hybrid model has changed the game in a range of ways, from cost savings to widening the talent pool. Much of what we were able to achieve during lockdown, from working at home to binge-watching streaming services was only possible because of cloud technologies, connectivity and advances in devices and this will continue to be the case in the year ahead.
In the initial phase of the pandemic in early 2020, many organisations were able to fast track digital transformation projects to adjust to that phrase none of us ever want to hear again, “the new normal”. In 2021, we still faced many challenges around lockdowns and so forth, but there was more room for taking a longer view, to ensure measures taken in the moment were viable in the long term and to develop new strategies considering the shift.
The government can help organisations with this. For instance, during the pandemic the federal and some state governments introduced temporary legislation around the handling of electronic signatures and deeds, which allowed many sectors that usually required in-person, paper documents to still function. Legislation in the pipeline at a federal and state level could make at least some of these allowances permanent now that the pandemic served as a test case.
Given where we are, there are couple of areas where the government can act as an enabler for business in the year ahead.
Supporting the data deluge
The on-demand economy will expand dramatically and, with it, the proportion of digital businesses creating and acting on exponentially more data. Capturing and harnessing that data will remain a challenge for many organisations. In fact, Dell’s Data Paradox research found that businesses believe they are data-driven but many are not treating data as capital, and that businesses constantly need more data yet have more data than they can handle.
To overcome this, businesses need to create a data-ready culture and invest in technology that allows them to automate and scale. As the data deluge flows, businesses can harness their data with the help of as-a-service technologies, and from there, AI and analytics opportunities will continue to grow. Bring 5G into the equation and entire industries will transform. To prepare businesses for the 5G-powered revolution, setting the foundations for agile, simplified data management now is crucial.
But it’s not just in the hands of individual businesses. The government can drive policies that establish standards for the acceptable quality of the data and govern when and how it is used, which will better support organisations navigating the complexity.
As one of the biggest collectors of data, the government also has a role to play in enabling value creation. By supporting access to anonymous, open data with appropriate controls and licensing in place, it allows for better decision-making and prediction in the business sector.
This is especially important when it comes to small and medium-sized businesses who traditionally struggled to access and control data in a way that makes them competitive as a bigger player. However, those players will also increasingly be able to manage their own data collection and protection by tapping into as-a-service solutions.
Setting the security tempo
But data complexity is not the only challenge. Cybersecurity is an area of increasing concern, as the rate of attacks grows globally and the vector for attack increases as services move online. According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) Annual Cyber Threat Report, a cybercrime is now reported in Australia every eight minutes, a 13 per cent increase from the last report.
We need to create an environment of ‘security by design’, where security measures are strategically embedded into every part of a business. As-a-service allows companies to adopt a holistic cybersecurity and data protection strategy to reduce risk and increase resilience.
With recent announcements, the Australian Government has started the conversation on how to support organisations in cybersecurity. These included the critical infrastructure bill amendments, which increase the number of sectors considered critical infrastructure in Australia and their obligations in the event of a cyberattack. There will be further refinements in 2022.
The Australian Federal Police has also announced the Joint Policing Cybercrime Coordination Centre will launch in March and will work with ACSC to investigate cybercriminals.
These initiatives reflect the shift in thinking around cybercrimes, focusing not just on cybersecurity, but on building cyber resilience, so that organisations can both automatically defend against and quickly recover from a cyber attack.
Building a secure, data ready organisations require multi-cloud infrastructure and automated as-a-service solutions to help businesses to process, analyse and manage complex and growing data, forming the technological baseline for business innovation. With the right strategies, governments are in a prime position to not only navigate out of the pandemic but to also make Australia a truly digital economy.
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