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EXCLUSIVE – Driving the next phase of digital transformation in Australia: Report on Canberra OpenGov Leadership Forum 2018

EXCLUSIVE – Driving the next phase of digital transformation in Australia: Report on Canberra OpenGov Leadership Forum 2018

On 5 June 2018, around 100 senior technology
executives from various government agencies in Australia gathered at the
Canberra OpenGov Leadership Forum 2018 to exchange ideas on technology trends
and learn about latest tools and techniques in building
an effective digital government strategy. The full-day Forum took place at Old
Parliament House, Canberra.

Opening Remarks

‍Mr Mohit Sagar,
Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia

Mr Mohit Sagar,
Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia, kickstarted the Forum by
highlighting the importance of digital transformation in the public sector.

In his
Chairman’s Opening Remarks, Mr Sagar remarked that digital transformation is
more than just the technology – it is about understanding citizens’ needs and
driving desirable outcomes. According to him, government officials need to
understand citizens’ needs, how they use technology and, more importantly, what
their agencies are trying to achieve, in order to make the best use of technology
to improve public services delivery

Australian Government’s Data Policy

Naomi Perdomo, A/g Assistant Secretary, Data and Digital Branch, Department of
the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Ms Naomi
Perdomo, A/g Assistant Secretary, Data and Digital Branch, Department of the
Prime Minister and Cabinet then gave her opening keynote address by sharing
current issues in the Australian Government’s data policy.

Her keynote address highlighted that the Australian Government has an
increasing focus on data and that its approach to data policy is multi-faceted,
covering a wide range of issues like data integration, data infrastructure,
data sharing and release, to community acceptance on data use and security.

Ms Perdomo also shared that the Australian Government has agreed to the Productivity
Commission’s recommendations and is working towards reforming data governance
structures for better data sharing and release.

A key message in her address is that community acceptance on data use is
critical to the success of data initiatives. To build trust among citizens, the
Australian Government is proactively engaging the community to communicate about its data and
digital initiatives to demonstrate their benefits and
value while emphasising protections and controls.

The Forum then moved on to its first gamification session. Throughout
the full-day event, the Forum hosted a total of four gamification sessions
which engaged the senior technology executives in a series of open discussions
and interactive gamification exercises through OpenGov’s signature Open
Dialogue Table format.

In between the gamification sessions, OpenGov invited a few distinguished
international speakers to present case studies on various governments’
experience in their digital transformation journeys.

New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure

Chris Buxton, Chief Digital Officer of Stats NZ

Mr Chris Buxton, Chief Digital Officer of Stats NZ, spoke about New Zealand’s integrated data infrastructure.
He shared about how his organisation uses microdata
from two large integrated databases – Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI)
database and the Longitudinal Business Database (LBD) – for research about
issues pertinent to New Zealand’s population.

In linking the
datasets and ensuring that the IDI and LBD data is kept safe, Mr Buxton explained that Stats NZ adopts the
“Five Safes Framework” under
which only authorised researchers working on approved statistical projects of
public interest can access de-identified data at the Data Lab through which
Stats NZ staff will ensure that no person nor business are identifiable in the

Data Science as a Service

To give an industry perspective, Mr Mitch Robinson, Senior Data Scientist at Leidos Australia explored
the topic of data science as a Service. According to him, we are on a journey
to citizen data science in which the emergence of big data and analytics improve accuracy. Such technological
advancement thus created a need for the modern enterprise to shift strategic direction
from process based to data driven.

However, for most businesses, this transformation is still in its
infancy. Typical analytical challenges that businesses face include capability
establishment, data engineering, data discovery and insights productisation. In
his sharing on how Leidos expedites customers’ digital transformation journeys,
Mr Robinson highlighted the importance of using the right tools that allow rapid and secure data access for the organisation to develop trusted
and actionable insights.

Netherland’s experience in Digital

‍Mr Frans Rijkers, Strategic Advisor Innovation &
Identity, National Office for Identity Data, Ministry for the Interior and
Kingdom Relations, the Netherlands

Mr Frans Rijkers, Strategic Advisor Innovation
& Identity, National Office for Identity Data, Ministry for the Interior
and Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands, led the audience on the Dutch journey in creating a self-sovereign digital

To start, Mr Rijkers
shared that the vision of the Dutch Government is to leverage technology to
provide citizen-centric public services and create a network society. He then
spoke about the Dutch Blockchain Coalition and how the blockchain platform
allows the government to implement citizen identification whilst protecting and
preserving the privacy. In his sharing, Mr Rijkers emphasised the role of
international collaboration in creating self-sovereign digital identity and the
importance of empowering citizens to control their digital identities to build
trust with distributed ledgers.

Leveraging technology to unleash the power of
human collaboration

‍Mr Roberto Cordova, Major Account Manager, Polycom

Mr Roberto Cordova, Major Account Manager at
Polycom Australia, then gave his insights on how organisations can leverage
technology to unleash the power of human collaborations. Technology
changes the way we live, work, and play. With technological advancements,
business communication today is also vastly different from what it was in the

Mr Cordova shared
that to unleash the power of teams, Polycom Australia helps organisations to
adopt three key measures to:

(1)    Enable
every workspace with voice, video, and content solutions for maximum
productivity, engagement and versatility,

(2)    Provide an
easy and intuitive experience where the technology is hidden and automated to
create natural experiences that drive utilisation, productivity, and

(3)    Deliver a
workflow that is accessible to everyone and integrated into your most critical
business applications.

To empower seamless collaboration across
different platforms and team, Mr Cordova emphasised the that organisation
should focus on its people and ensure the technology solutions are interoperable
and easy to use.

Portugal: The Future of Digital Economy

‍Mr Morten Meyerhoff, Academic Fellow, Operating Unit
for Policy-Driven Electronic Governance, the United Nations University

Mr Morten Meyerhoff, Academic Fellow, Operating
Unit for Policy-Driven Electronic Governance, at the United Nations University,
explored the future of digital economy. In his sharing, Mr Meyerhoff zoomed
into major emerging technology trends such as digital identities and
signatures, data exchange and reuse, user-centric services, and relevant
governance, cooperation and legislation.

With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI)
and increasing speed of analytics, improvements in system efficiency and
service quality present great opportunities for better platform personalisation
to improve citizen engagement and provide value-add.

Malaysia's Approach to Cybersecurity

Dato’ Dr Haji Amirudin bin Abdul Wahab, Chief Executive Officer of CyberSecurity

Dato’ Dr Haji
Amirudin bin Abdul Wahab, Chief Executive Officer of
CyberSecurity Malaysia, shared Malaysia’s holistic approach to cybersecurity. Such
an approach contributed to Malaysia high global ranking on the Global
Cybersecurity Index (GCI) by the International
Telecommunication Union(ITU) which is a multi-stakeholder initiative
to measure the commitment of countries to cybersecurity based on 5 pillars of governance,
legal capacity, technical capacity, capacity building and international cooperation.

According to Dato’ Dr Abdul Wahab, having a holistic approach means capabilities in both identifying
potential cybersecurity threats and its impact on national security and public
well-being as well as developing cyber resilience to resist, respond, and
recover from cybersecurity threats. In the case of Malaysia, the holistic
approach has helped the country to see cybersecurity as more than just a technical
issue. Instead, it addresses cybersecurity through implementing relevant policies,
training a quality cybersecurity workforce, and developing cybersecurity processes
and procedures to cope with cybersecurity challenges.

Besides international case studies, the Forum also featured panel
discussions on various topics including cybersecurity in the digital age, the
power of big data analytics and AI for Besides international case studies, the Forum also featured panel discussions on various topics including cybersecurity in the digital age, the power of big data analytics and AI for better governance, and how governments can embrace emerging technologies and respond to the fast-changing technology landscape.better governance, and how governments
can embrace emerging technologies and respond to the fast-changing technology

Polling results

Other than serving as an interactive and engaging learning platform,
the Canberra OpenGov Leadership Forum also aimed to better understand the needs
of the public sector agencies in their digital transformation journey.  

According to the polling results, over half of the delegates came
from agencies with total head count of over 1,000. A majority of these
organisations also have an IT head count of over 50 people. Over 30% of the
attendees said their organisation has an annual budget of over $501 million.
Half of the attendees indicated that their organisation’s annual IT budget
ranges from $1 to $15 million. In terms of the IT budget allocation, 22% said
over 55% of the budget is allocated to outsourced services. The top  3 outsourced area of IT services are in IT
infrastructure management (28%), enterprise IT system (28%) and data centre

In terms of their IT and Information Management Strategy, 34% said
their organisations are in the process of updating their existing strategy
while 30% are implementing the strategy as scheduled. However, a quarter of the
delegates shared that the implementation of the strategy is behind schedule and
that 8% of the delegates said their organisations do not have an IT and
Information Management Strategy.

Regarding the
organisation’s priorities, 39% named cloud adoption and data management their
top priority, followed by citizen-centric services (24%), data sharing and
privacy (17%), cybersecurity (10%) and predictive analytics and AI (10%)

At the same
time, delegates also shared the top 5 major challenges their organisations face
in implementing IT projects, which are: the lack of clearly defined goals and
requirements (28%), the lack of funding (20%), lack of in-house skills (19%),
lack of ownership by the business (14%), lack of foundational IT infrastructure

Results also showed that the online transaction
portal (37%), mobile application (31%), and non-interactive websites (12%) are
the major digital public services that these public sector agencies offer. On
the use of emerging technologies such as AI and blockchain, 48% of the
attendees said they are currently not using or evaluating any form of AI and
44% said they need more information on blockchain to determine if there is a
relevant application of the technology for the organisation. 33% of them also
shared that data accessibility and sharing is the biggest pain point in big
data value chain while 27% named data quality as the major challenge.

In terms of their biggest challenge in 2018, 38% of them are
struggling with legacy infrastructure, 28% are facing difficulties in creating
the culture and openness to innovation, and another 17% found cross-agency
collaboration a challenge. Outdated systems and software (32%), employee
negligence or malfeasance (28%), and migration to cloud (13%) were also named
the biggest cybersecurity risks.

40% of the organisations are using or planning to use hybrid clouds
while 21% preferred private clouds. In adopting cloud solutions, security (37%)
is the main concern, followed by the lack of skills to manage cloud (24%) and
budget and procurement constraints (19%).

To their top strategy to achieve policy objectives, 36% of the
attendees named a change in organisational culture to create a conducive
environment to promote innovation, followed by upskilling internal resource
(19%) and establishing effective partnerships (18%).


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