Friday, 05 June 2015 03:08

Australia bucks global decline in public sector IT, technology spending Featured

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Australia bucks global decline in public sector IT, technology spending Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net/images

Australia is bucking the global trend in declining public sector spending on IT and technology products, with federal, state and local governments here forecast to grow by 5.8% to $10.8 billion by the end of this year, and to almost $12 billion by 2019.

And, across the Tasman, New Zealand public sector technology spending is forecast to grow 2.5% to almost NZ$1.65 billion this year, growing to more than $1.8 billion by 2019.

In contrast to Australia and New Zealand, worldwide spending by national, federal and local governments on technology products and services is forecast to decline 1.8% from US$439 billion to $431 billion in 2015, growing to $475.5 billion by 2019.

The solid growth forecasts for Australia and New Zealand come from global market analysts’ Gartner, who say that globally organisational culture, legacy IT systems and business processes, stretched IT budgets, and the lack of critical IT skills are inhibiting government CIOs when evaluating and selecting new technology or sourcing options.

But, Gartner says that technologies that enable new service models for digital government must be at the top of the list for government organisations everywhere as they prioritise technology investments.

Gartner research director Rick Howard says that public sector CIOs can gain support for digital innovation from public officials and administrators by explaining digital innovation in terms of business priorities and “presenting relevant examples of what the consumer service industry or other digitally savvy government agencies have done, how they have done it, and what the results have been."

"These strategic technology trends have substantial disruptive potential that is just beginning to materialise and will reach an inflection point within the next three to five years," Howard observes.

"Public sector CIOs can capitalise on the value of these trends by first determining how they will impact government program operations or service delivery models, and then by building the organisational capabilities and capacity needed to support them."

Commenting on what he sees as the Digital Workplace, Howard says the government workforce of the future will be populated with digitally literate employees, from frontline workers to top-level executives.

“The digital workplace is open, flat and democratic. It is the organisational manifestation of open government. CIOs and IT leaders must take a leadership role in building a more social, mobile, accessible and information-driven work environment,” he advises.

Howard also has something to say about government jurisdictions with multiple channels (municipal offices, physical mail correspondence, contact centres, e-government websites and mobile apps) who he says are struggling to provide their citizens with one coherent view of the enterprise.

According to Howard, a multichannel strategy, in the context of digital government, means more than delivering a seamless experience to stakeholders, and is also about “delivering interactions that are connected, consistent, convenient, collaborative, customised, clear and transparent”.

“To produce those outcomes, policymakers and CIOs must radically redesign service models by combining traditional marketing tools (such as focus groups, user experience labs, surveys and stakeholder analysis) with new approaches (such as citizen co-creation initiatives, agile development and design thinking).”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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