Looking back to March 2020 and even taking notice of current events, it is clear that in order to survive and flourish among the ensuing uncertainty, innovation is key to sustaining some of our most vital sectors, supply chains and jobs. The sheer speed and scale at which digital transformations has taken place and supported entire industries as they adapted is astonishing. Technology takes the spotlight; keeping businesses open, students in (sometimes virtual) classrooms, social lives connected, and essential services flowing.
Technology as an enabler
Consistently, we are reminded of the force for good that technology can be – providing a glimpse of what is possible now and, in the future, and we have learned that a digital future will be a central pillar within our societal evolution.
If harnessed effectively, technology will continue to lead global efforts to support recovery, playing a pivotal role in enabling governments to “build back better” for the long-term. However, it is crucial that the systems we put in place not only solve the problems of today but also ensure that we are prepared for the challenges of tomorrow.
The continued digitalisation of governments will be a crucial stepping stone when it comes to driving change in the medium and long-term – and if we can take anything from 2020 it should be the pace of innovation and hunger for change. A great example of quick innovation is introduction of the COVID safe check-in tool within the Service NSW app that allows customers, staff and visitors to check in at businesses across NSW. The app is helping contact tracers to quickly track COVID contacts and help organisations remain COVID safe at all times.
As we move towards recovery and build resilience it is not surprising that across the board we are seeing a real emphasis on technology, connectivity and bridging digital divides. We are living in a world where we can see the fruits of digital transformation with doctors’ appointments going online, the world embracing video calls for work as well as for family gatherings, and also many essential services and supply chains going digital. We can now dare to dream even bigger.
Some medical offices and hospitals have already been turbocharged with real-time analytics, helping them respond to and prioritise patient needs while driving better patient outcomes. Building back better means making these digital technologies mainstream and ensuring that everyone has access to those improved outcomes. The fact that only those locations and citizens with good digital access can benefit is pertinent and shows the scale of the challenge that lies ahead for many governments as they build protections against potential future crises.
Keeping up the pace of innovation
The agility and resilience of businesses and the public sector have been put to the test, and those organisations with a solid grip on digital technologies are faring better in the pandemic than those that didn't. Before the pandemic we worked with State government electricity generator Hydro Tasmania to overhaul its IT infrastructure. A strong technology foundation allowed the organisation to move 1,400 employees to remote work quickly and smoothly. This provides a clear case for the accelerated digitalisation of government. As we weather this lockdown and enter the next phase of recovery, the hybrid world is here to stay.
From supporting eGovernment infrastructure to investing in technology skills and education programs, the governments’ 2022 plans are embracing the importance of the role of technology as an enabler of a more developed and equal society. This is underscored with a focus on AI research and supporting the digital economy, setting out to keep up with the rest of the world and secure economic recovery from COVID-19. Taking a step in this direction, the Australian Government committed $1.2 billion to overhaul and expand these digital services in the 2021-2022 budget.
Staying connected is key
Connective technologies will support the roll-out of digital services, keeping organisations, businesses and public sector services operating efficiently. This is a crucial point as citizens now have higher expectations for the services their governments provide. With data-driven tech, governments can leverage analytics and predictive insights helping to prevent anything from future epidemics to public safety incidents.
To truly harness the power of technology, Australian industries and government will need to embrace a more open business and technology first approach that leverages new and emerging technologies to meet the growing complexity of citizen demand, societal change, and regulatory needs. At the same time ensuring that our digital infrastructure is secure and resilient. The federal government of Australia is committed to investing $500 million to build the country’s “virtual-first” infrastructure.
Building back better means digital
Technology will drive the recovery agenda and enable truly innovative proposals and programs that are: citizen-centric, reform focused, and which promise to make a meaningful impact across the healthcare and education sectors as well as eGovernment with sustainability at heart.
Digital technologies will form the backbone of future-facing infrastructure planning, creating seamless integrations across organisations, making essential services accessible for all. In Australia, the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is set to deploy an omnichannel citizen experience by enabling citizens to access a variety of government services conveniently and safely. Govpass aims to create a digital identity for Australian citizens that is accepted and trusted by online government services. This will help Australians to build their digital identity once and reuse it many times to access a variety of services. The DTA began trials with a test group of Australians in 2018. And all government services are expected to be available through digital channels by 2025.
Through building the critical infrastructures to support digital growth, we can design services that embrace sustainability, which is also crucial for our collective futures. This requires out of the box thinking, excellent use of digital tools and the bravery to set our world on a different and more harmonious course. Now is the time to be bold, dream differently and drive the recovery with enhanced governmental and workplace digitalisation.