Interview: Charlie Hamer, Public Sector Network
Which technologies or innovations do you think will be game changers or reach maturity in 2019?
I think cloud is getting there in government, and cybersecurity certainly has been a priority, along with a push towards AI and automation. Real-time data analytics is also moving along, and there are some great use cases now in government about this.
How are AI, IoT and cyber threats changing your industry sector, and what is your business doing to move with the changes?
If you look at AI, IoT and cyber, you immediately think of the smart cities movement, and by that I mean everything from transport and healthcare to education, and other key government departments. As we know, IoT will permeate every part of our lives in future, and with that comes challenges. PSN is fully aware of these challenges for the public sector in particular and has tailored events and training around a number of these topics, from our Data Management & Analytics Series with Deloitte, Smart Cities Series with KPMG and our Cyber Series with PwC.
Which ICT innovations or disruptions are your customers telling you they are most worried or enthusiastic about in the year ahead?
AI, robotic process automation and machine learning seem to be the most concerning, but are also the most interesting new areas of focus for the public sector. As always, there is concern that these technologies will remove jobs; however, as we know, this is not the case. Automating the more menial jobs and tasks frees up workers to focus on the higher value tasks and offers a better service to citizens and key stakeholders. I heard a great story recently of departmental field workers who, in the past, would have taken 20 minutes to conduct a fire risk survey. But with the technologies mentioned, as well as mobile and some digital apps, the department was able to pull together multiple data sources (including open data from the Bureau of Meteorology) and have a result back in under one minute. This is the type of innovation that is only scratching the surface of what is possible with advanced technologies.
How important is education and training for ICT professionals during times of rapid digital transformation, and what initiatives need improving on this front?
Education is paramount. If you stand still, you are left behind — it is as simple as that. Given the rapid pace of technological change and the growing need to adapt and be agile based on the needs of the customer, continuing education — whether that be in-person, online, networking functions or working groups — is critical to ensure that the public sector can keep pace with change. There is no need to be fearful of new technologies — by embracing change and accepting that these things will happen with or without you, enables you to continue to learn. Key skills in data analysis and problem solving are important, but so also are often-overlooked softer skills. Improving emotional intelligence should be a key piece of our continuing education moving forward.
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