Australia’s government digital transformation

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Australia’s government digital transformation

Progress but still too many barriers

27 October 2015: Less than 30% of Australian public sector respondents to a Deloitte global survey are confident in their organisations’ ability to respond to digital trends.

The survey report from Deloitte’s Public Sector Research group, The Journey to Government’s Digital Transformation, examines digital technology’s ability to fundamentally transform the way public sector organisations operate and deliver services to citizens, and offers strategies for government leaders to help accelerate progress.

It is based on a survey of more than 1,200 government officials from more than 70 countries, including more than 200 in Australia – across federal and state government agencies.

Key global findings:

  • Around 75% of respondents indicated that digital technologies are disrupting the public sector, and 96% said the impact was significant
  • Only about 30 percent said their organisation’s digital capabilities were ahead of their public sector peers
  • Nearly 70 percent said they were behind the private sector.

Key findings for Australian respondents:

  • Only 27% feel confident about their organisation's readiness to respond to digital trends
  • 80% that their digital capabilities are behind the private sector
  • 43% say their leadership understands digital trends and technologies
  • 80% say that digital technologies and capabilities enable employees at their organisation to work better with customers/citizens.

Deloitte Australia National Public Sector and Healthcare Leader, Fran Thorn, said: “Interacting with our governments, at federal, state and local levels, should be easy, and certainly as easy doing the same with private sector organisations.

“Australia’s public sector has actually been fairly good at moving to digitise many customer transactions, and our governments have come a long way in terms of their commitment to digital transformation. The federal government has certainly demonstrated it is serious about digital, with the recent establishment of its national Digital Transformation Office.

“But there is also a very compelling argument for more to be done in terms of driving the development and uptake of digital, both in terms of improved access to services and the provision of services at lower cost.”

The cost-side benefits were confirmed by a recent Deloitte Access Economics report for Adobe. Digital Government Transformation : Unlocking the Benefits of Digitising Customer Transactions looks at the economic benefits of digitising customer transaction services agencies.

That research and modelling found that reducing transactions by traditional channels by 20% over a 10-year period (only a further one in every five transactions), would realise productivity, efficiency and other benefits to government of around $17.9 billion (in real terms). A further $8.7 billion in savings in time, convenience and out-of-pocket costs to citizens would also be realised, and the cost in new ICT and transitional arrangements would be $6.1 billion.

Deloitte’s transformation survey results reveal that governments around the world are at different stages in the digital transformation process. Only a small percentage fall into the ‘digitally maturing’ category, while the large majority are still in the early or developing stages of their digital transitions.

“The report finds that public sector organisations at the forefront of using digital technologies tend to share a number of common characteristics, including a clear digital strategy, digitally savvy leadership, a workforce with the skills to realise their digital strategy, user-focused design, and a culture conducive to digital transformation,” Thorn said.

“But according to Australian survey respondents, they feel less than confident about their organisation’s readiness to respond to digital trends, something that is critical in a rapidly evolving digital world.

“Most Australian agencies also use pilots for digital implementation, a deviation from the more pervasive ‘top down from central senior leadership team’ approach, and the barriers to greater adoption of digital transformation should also be noted, with insufficient funding, too many competing priorities and a lack of overall strategy all cited by respondents.”

Thorn said that to accelerate digital transformation, public sector leaders should focus on five major areas.

“Australia has achieved a lot when it comes to innovation and digital engagement with customers, but we are still at a ‘developing stage’,” she said.

“Having a clear coherent digital strategy, being user-centric, having a strong digital-first culture and the right tech-savvy workforce skills as well as the right approach to procurement and supplier relationships will all be important if we are to continue to mature.”

Commenting on the global report findings, William Eggers, Director of Public Sector Research at Deloitte Services LP said: “Overall, we found that in order for digital technology to really take hold governments should be willing to re-imagine their services and continually innovate the way they engage with citizens.

“While nearly all – 96 percent – of respondents said digital technologies are having a major impact on government, there are varying levels of maturity but much commonality on the obstacles holding many governments back.”

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