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CSIRO to develop centralised digital transformation strategy

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Australian Government agency responsible for scientific research, unveiled plans to develop a single organisation-wide digital transformation strategy. The agency cited a lack of cohesion in its current approach as a reason.

The government research agency revealed its digital transformation challenges in a forthright job advertisement for a specialist to act as a coordination point for its digital strategy and projects. While to some extent, digital transformation is already underway across the Australian government, CSIRO suggests the activities are largely decentralised and may or may not involve up to three parts of the organisation.

The agency noted that most CSIRO business units are already embracing the opportunities that digitisation affords. This is sometimes done in collaboration with Data61 or Information Management & Technology (IM&T), sometimes independently. This presents one of the barriers to a more strategic way of CSIRO tackling digital transformation – the lack of a cohesive, connected and coordinated strategy for these activities, they said.

CSIRO said it has created a new digital transformation strategist role to effectively bridge between the three parts of the organisation involved in digital projects. The agency stated that they are looking for a strategist to work with IM&T, Data61 and business units to bring together a CSIRO digital strategy.

CSIRO’s digital strategy aspires to accelerate its science impact through fostering a data-driven culture that treats data as an asset, related competencies, and data and digital literacy across the enterprise. An accompanying position description indicates there are four “sub-programs” for the centralised digital transformation of CSIRO. These include the creation of a “digital academy” to help the organisation to “define, attract, develop and connect digital skills … as well as manage our workforce in new ways”.

CSIRO will also work to set up a “managed data ecosystem” to “create, collect, share and work with data, analytics and models”, and use design thinking and compute resources “to progress prototypes and proofs-of-concept, and assist business units with digital transformation, digital adoption and digitisation projects.”

The fourth sub-program aims to measure the change that the coordination of digital transformation activities introduces and the “impact” that it has on the organisation. The new strategist will be tasked with building partnerships with third-party industry leaders and working with science digital transformation program board members.

CSIRO’s digital transformation is about combining deep domain expertise with new digital technologies, the advertisement stated. It has unlocked new opportunities for CSIRO as well as Australia and will allow CSIRO to increase the pace and scale of its science delivery through digital technologies, as well as building digital capability in our workforce and adapting our workplaces for future ways of working.

CSIRO sees the digital transformation of its research as “critical for its future leadership and relevance on the world stage.” The new strategist position reports to CSIRO chief information and data officer Brendan Dalton and has an initial tenure of two years. The organisation appears to be open to the current location of the successful candidate, as long as it is within Australia.

Digital transformation is a major focus for Australia this year. According to a recent article, the Australian government has launched the third round of Innovation Partnership Grants with funding of AU$1.5 million for Australian and Vietnamese partners’ innovation initiatives that have already been piloted and are now ready to be replicated.

Under the theme “Enhancing Digital Transformation”, this round of grant will seek initiatives that have the potential to enhance digital transformation in the economy and deliver inclusive social impacts.

These initiatives should be able to develop innovative products, services, or business models and solutions that build on emerging digital technologies to help improve the efficiency, agility, and productivity in a specific sector or across the economy.

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