Posted: 16 Feb. 2018 15 min. read

Enterprise Data Sovereignty: the Australian view

Robert Hillard, Managing Director of Deloitte Consulting and author of the Information-Driven Business considers the complex issue of data sovereignty in Australia.

While Australia is geographically at the bottom of the world, the information economy moves us into the cross roads between the data sovereignty regimes of North America and Europe, as well as a part of the emerging trends in Asia.

Traditionally, Australia has sought agreements with major trading partners, but has underplayed the free flow of information, and the potential for shared cloud infrastructure as part of the negotiations. Given the high concentration of Australian ownership of submarine data cables for instance, the pipes that fuel the internet in the Asia-Pacific region, this is a real requirement and opportunity for the decade ahead.

Locally, the rules around the ownership of data are still emerging, with legislation gearing up to catch up with the changing trends of digital transformation. There is an urgency to close this gap and position Australia to leverage its position at the global digital cross roads.

The opportunity

Trust has always been important in business, but it is probably as important, as information in the digital economy. Australia’s political stability, mature regulation, and strong legal system, facilitate that trust, and position the country as an ideal location for international data to reside.

The rise of robotics and the race to develop cognitive computing solutions is drawing more and more data into the core of organisations. These technologies run entirely on data, and apply it in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. With a lack of clarity of what data exists, where it has come from, and who owns it, the necessity and criticality for proper governance, has never been greater.

The emergence of blockchain, and more importantly the distributed ledgers it supports, adds to the complexity (See our tech trend here). While most organisations know blockchain primarily as the foundation on which cryptocurrencies are built, it is its emerging ability to support multiple copies of the same data that, should really be of interest. These distributed ledgers, as the databases are known, are highly encrypted, distributed across jurisdictions, and now have a single owner, and generally lack the ability for any one organisation or regulator to oversee the content.

With all this complexity, it makes sense that there is clear leadership in every organisation. However, the trend towards a single role, such as a Chief Data Officer, is mixed across Australian organisations and between industries. Despite this, the race to put information at the centre of competitive responses to global players entering the market and changing consumer expectations, is universal.

The winners in Australia will navigate the regulatory uncertainties and play to the governance advantages of residing in Australia. They will maximise the information they have and identify the gaps requiring investment. Finally, they will future proof their enterprise, by understanding the role of cognitive computing, emerging digital technologies and customer trends in the data landscape for their individual industry.

To find out more about our Information-Driven Business tech trend for 2018 click here.

More about the author

Robert Hillard

Robert Hillard

Consulting Leader, Deloitte Asia Pacific

Robert Hillard leads Deloitte Consulting across Asia Pacific spanning China, Japan, Australia, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, New Zealand and Korea. In this role, he oversees the management and growth of a US$2B consulting practice with approximately 18,000 professionals. Robert has previously served as a member of Deloitte’s global board (Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited), Chief Transformation Officer for Deloitte Asia Pacific and the Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer for Deloitte Australia.