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Monday, 26 October 2015 23:55

Public sector dragging chain in response to digital trends

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Digital transformation within the Australian public sector is progressing, but there are still too many barriers, with less than 30% of departments in the sector confident in their organisations’ ability to respond to digital trends.

Only 27% of Australian respondents to a global survey by Deloitte Public Sector Research group said they felt confident about their organisation's readiness to respond to digital trends, and 80% said that their digital capabilities are behind the private sector.

The Journey to Government’s Digital Transformation study examined 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.

More than 1,200 government officials from more than 70 countries, including more than 200 in Australia – across federal and state government agencies – were surveyed.

In Australia, other findings found that 43% say their leadership understands digital trends and technologies, while 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.”

Deloitte cites the cost-side benefits of digital government transformation in a recent report by Deloitte Access Economics for Adobe, and which looks at the economic benefits of digitising customer transaction services agencies.

According to Deloitte, 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) in Australian 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 says that from the payment of taxes and bills to applying for government benefits, passports and licences , Australians undertake more than 800 million transactions with government agencies each year, with around 40% still completed via using traditional (non-digital) channels.

“If this figure could be reduced to 20% over a ten-year period, Deloitte Access Economics estimates productivity, efficiency and other benefits to government worth around $17.9 billion (in real terms), along with savings in time, convenience and out-of-pocket costs to citizens worth a further $8.7 billion,” Deloitte says.  

Globally, the Deloitte survey found that, in comparison to Australia, key findings included:

•    Around 75% of respondents indicated that digital technologies are disrupting the public sector, and 96% said the impact was significant

•    Only about 30% said their organisation’s digital capabilities were ahead of their public sector peers, and

•    Nearly 70% said they were behind the private sector.

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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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