September 9, 2016

Australian Public Sector Digital State of Play 2016 (My top 3 takeaways from the PSN Digital Series 2016)



I’ve had the wonderful opportunity and pleasure of joining the 2016 Public Sector Network Digital Series and so have spent the last 2 weeks touring around Australian states. I had the opportunity to speak in 4 states: ACT, WA, Vic and SA and compare notes with those who attended in NSW and Qld.

I really enjoyed the speakers, the round-tables and conversations I was able to be a part of, the people I was able to meet and the feedback I was given on my presentation (good, bad and ugly).

There were some different focus areas in each state however some there were also universal themes. The main message that came up time and time again was: The problem isn’t the technology, it’s about the people, process and culture to support and sustain transformation.

Here are my top 3 takeaways outlining the problem and solution spaces distilled from the 2016 series…

1. Top and bottom are aligned

We generally have great high level support for transformation. Our DGs/CEOs want to be able to keep up with increasing customer expectations and embrace an efficient technologically-driven future.

Similarly, there are many champions at grass-roots level who patiently and persistently strive for customer-centricity and organisational change.

2. The problem is in the middle

The problems we are facing trying to meet customer expectations relate to a breakdown somewhere in between the CEOs and the doers on the ground. Essentially…

There is a disconnect between IT, the business and customers

This is why the ‘Digital’ concept has become so highly prized. If we could bridge the gap by modernising our business strategy and aligning our technology roadmaps, the separate concept of ‘Digital’ is not even needed.

This gap exists for two reasons:

  1. Many executives are still not comfortable with digital, disruption and the new ways of working required to keep up with the pace of change and increased expectations.
  2. Technical professionals have great ideas and are good at solving problems, however many are struggling to communicate clearly, influence the business and drive change.

We can’t afford to wait for this change to happen naturally over time, the modern pace of change demands a faster response.

3: We need to up-skill existing staff

Outsourcing and contractors are only a short-term solution for core business operations. Digital is now our BAU, so we need to develop a workforce capable of sustaining ongoing change and evolution.

We need to close the gap by addressing both sides, so they can meet in the middle:

  1. Executives need a crash course in digital and technology concepts, their role in disruption and innovation and fostering a culture that supports high-performing, agile and resilient teams.
  2. Technical professionals and leaders need support in communication, collaboration, emotional intelligence and how to influence and create high performing partnerships.

Thank you

Thank you to the Public Sector Network for putting on such a great event, and the Nous Group for their sponsorship and facilitation. And thank you to all the wonderful people I met and had a chance to speak with over the last 2 weeks.

Let’s see if we can make a dent on the problem space over the next 12 months and have changed the state of play for next year!

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