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Government not ready to respond to digital, says Deloitte study

A majority of public sector organisations concede their organisation and their leadership are not ready for digital change, according to a survey by consulting group Deloitte.

The survey of Australian public sector agencies found 66% of organisations are undecided or dissatisfied with their organisation and leadership’s ability to understand and cope with the change.

Over three quarters of agencies believe they are less than half-way to their ideal digitalised organisation, while two-thirds of participants are undecided or have disagreed that their organisation has a coherent digital strategy.

Speaking to the result of the survey at Victorian IPAA’s Digital Delivery conference in Geelong, former Victorian Department of Health secretary, Fran Thorn, said the answer to the question, “Are we ready for digital?” was “No.”

In a telling response, 64% of organisations said they did not believe their leadership team has the skills capability to lead such a change.

“Survey results largely demonstrate that organisations are experiencing a lack of direction amidst competing priorities, a lack of funding and a lack of strategy,” Thorn told the conference.

“This is an opportunity for their leadership teams to embrace change by increasing their involvement in recruiting talent and providing resources and opportunities for themselves and their employees to effect digital transformation.”

The results were reinforced by research from the consulting and leadership firm Nous group, which concluded Australia was estimated to be in the middle of the pack when it came to digital effectiveness and citizen engagement.

According to the managing director of the Nous group, Tim Orton, Australia ranked behind by Singapore, Finland, UK, Norway, New Zealand, USA and Germany when it came to digital innovating for better citizen experiences.

The assessment by Nous was based on a study of service transformation, open data and insights, community engagement and the digital workplace.

Orton said there had been a rapid improvement in digital technology capability with the development of software platforms, powerful data tools which enabled large scale analysis of unstructured data and a consolidation of the mobile ecosystems.

He cited data showing there had been a fourfold increase in the use of APIs since 2010 — APIs are connectors which enable different software systems to talk to each other.

Former federal associate secretary for the Australian Government Department of Human Services and now Melbourne City CEO, Ben Rimmer, told the conference Australia was somewhere between three-to-five years behind other countries in digital uptake by government.

He attributed this partly to the innovation that had been forced on many other countries after the financial crisis of 2007, but which had not occurred in Australia after it narrowly missed going into recession.

Rimmer who till recently headed the MyGov project said in many cases the public sector was still stuck in the 1990’s and needed to be more assertive in the digital space. He said this included focusing on agility, collaboration and being able to work at scale.

Read more at The Mandarin: Geelong’s two public worlds in digital change race

Author Bio

Tom Burton

Tom Burton is publisher of The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He has served in various public administration roles, specialising in the media and communications sector. He was a Walkley Award-winning journalist and executive editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. He worked as Canberra bureau chief for the Australian Financial Review and as managing editor of smh.com.au. He most recently worked at the Australian Communications and Media Authority.