Interview: Brett Barningham, Civica ANZ
In our annual Leaders in Technology series, we ask the experts what the year ahead holds. Today we talk data and efficiency with Civica ANZ’s Brett Barningham.
How have Australian workplaces coped with COVID? Will things go back to normal?
In the public sector we saw some organisations that were well prepared and organised for a disaster recovery event and were operational within one to two weeks after lockdowns were ordered. Those that were not were running around trying to buy laptops and get remote access organised for staff. It was six to eight weeks before these organisations were operational.
In many ways I hope things don’t go back to ‘normal’. Many councils we work with have learned that their citizens are more than happy to consume services remotely and that this doesn’t have to impact service delivery. I expect we’ll see more councils looking at how they can extend the use of e-services as a result.
I also expect we’ll see more councils enabling their people in the field with the kind of mobility tools that will make them more efficient, so they don’t have to come into the office to do paperwork. Lastly, I expect we’ll see local government doing more to support staff who want to work remotely long term, coming into the office from as little as two days a week.
Which new technologies will reach critical mass in 2021?
In my view neither AI nor robotic process automation (RPA) will be anywhere near critical mass in 2021. Many local councils are just at the start of their journey to move to the cloud. I do think the adoption of cloud could hit critical mass in local government, given the need to get data and critical apps into an environment that allows for greater agility and flexibility.
Bringing in technologies like AI and RPA will become a lot easier once an organisation is in the cloud. However, what I think will happen somewhat sooner is the adoption of smart city technologies. We’re already seeing smart products become more prominent… whether it’s used to look at the quality of water, or counting people so that you know where to invest in infrastructure.
How will IT improve operational efficiency in 2021, and who should lead the charge?
I think one of the biggest opportunities for greater efficiency is having citizens enter in as much of their data as possible during the first engagement. People are happy to fill out forms once, especially if it then populates everywhere that data is needed. Giving citizens access to those tool kits and automation will enable a huge increase in organisational efficiency.
As far as who should lead the charge, it should be led by a leadership group that has a vision for where they want to take their citizens and those services. Another key point is that achieving efficiency isn’t all about technology, it’s also about saying no to things. As local councils add certain new services, they have to look at which other services can now be switched off.
What’s on your wish list from government, industry and innovators?
Regardless of what technology you’re implementing, any transformational change involves people and far too often organisations do not take people along with them. This is why at the top of my wish list is that local governments place additional focus on change management — and put the budget behind it that’s needed to make it work.
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