Trust, technology and transparency: how government can make positive changes permanent
Moderated by public sector expert and government editor of the Australian Financial Review Tom Burton, our opening panel agreed on a few key issues. The pandemic has clarified the relationship between government and citizens, while sharpening a long-standing question: exactly what sort of role should technology play in that relationship going forward? Which expectations and boundaries are unique to this particular crisis, and will some changes prove permanent?
Christopher Pyne, former member of Parliament and Minister across multiple Governments, noted that one change has been Australians reckoning with what they truly want from government and recognising its value during a crisis.
Fellow panellist, Samantha Mostyn, President of Chief Executive Women, had similar thoughts. Explaining how the pandemic response helped rebuild trust that may have been lost during the bushfires, she cautioned that the citizenry will want to see proof that the trust can be maintained.
“It’s an opportunity for government and officials to meet that trust head-on and say, ‘[What role] do we play in your lives?’”
These issues often intersected with the use of technology and data. Panellists tended to agree that it would be vital for government to collect and use data in ways that have an unambiguous trade-off for citizens, similar to QR code check-ins for COVID-19 pandemic contact tracing.
New research supports that consensus. Panellist and Salesforce’s Director of Public Sector Strategy APAC Gisele Kapterian sat down with Boston Consulting Group’s Miguel Carrasco to introduce the newest iteration of the Trust Imperative, a survey of consumers, leaders and experts in Australia and New Zealand. Piggybacking on research from last year, results showed that trust in government has increased since 2020 and that most citizens are open to sharing their data in exchange for more personalised government services. But people also want clear communication about benefits and reassurance that their data was secure.
As part of that, agencies need the right platforms and systems, best demonstrated elsewhere in the session by the National Disability Insurance Agency and its Deputy CIO, Ron Coldebella. Though the agency helps administer specialist disability accommodation services – which can be life-changing for people with high-support needs – its legacy system made it difficult to track progress or answer questions from providers and participants.
After implementing Salesforce, Ron says NDIA staff have complete visibility and can keep stakeholders informed about crucial projects.
Offering similarly crucial services, New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation shared how they’ve used Salesforce to connect information across a complex health system and even became the first Salesforce Customer in all of Asia Pacific to implement Sustainability Cloud.
As panellist Barry Dietrich observed, with so many agencies moving toward citizen-centric services, there’s no reason why they have to go back to the pre-pandemic status quo – especially if public sector leaders are ready to make digitisation and innovation a priority.
How data, technology and culture work best when they work together
The opening panel of our final day was hosted by Clyde Fernandez, RVP, Platform Salesforce, and saw a discussion of what a high performing team looks like.
Rather than a list of attributes or technical requirements, the picture of “high performance” that emerged was one in which culture sits front and centre. Yes, technology and data have critical roles to play in creating high performance teams, but our panelists frequently returned to culture as foundational to the success of technology and data use in a business.
Legendary AFL player and 2014 Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes, shared vivid insights into how a high performing team ensures culture and data work hand in hand. Remembering the time when each day would start with the gathering of data – weight, sleep, meals, and flexibility to name a few – Goodes recalled how that data was used to support the team culture in powerful ways. With it, AFL coaches knew how many hours he was up to training that day, what kind of training he should focus on, or whether he should take a rest day. It was about bringing out the best in the individual player to ensure the best for the team.
More recently, across a plethora of industries, digital technologies and data have proved critical to organisations’ ability to maintain their workplace cultures even as employees worked from home.
Panelist Aaron Tabone, CIO at Provider Assist, experienced this first-hand when the pandemic threatened the aged care sector and accelerated the role of Provider Assist’s virtual assessment capabilities.
“The developers, admin and myself – not a coder – were able to meet in the middle and move at incredible speed to do in eight to ten days what might have otherwise taken eight to ten months.”
Dan Owen, RVP, JAPAC Customer Success Strategy and Architecture at Mulesoft, also called out the astonishing acceleration of innovation over the past eighteen months as organisations looked for ways to transform their business models to adapt to volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) conditions. As an example, he pointed to NSW Health Pathology, whose rapid deployment of the SMS notification system for COVID-19 test results freed up clinical staff – not to mention reducing an anxious wait time for patients.
Later, our session on nimble startups featured Trailblazers like Keegan Bakker and Paris Cockinos, inspiring us with what’s possible with a bit of imagination and the power of Heroku.
But it was the health and aged care sectors that emerged consistently throughout the course of the day as examples of where digital innovation and data have had a powerful impact. Daniel Pettman, CIO, and Kusal Wijewantha, Applications/BI Manager at BaptistCare, shared how an API approach was driving digital transformation both internally and externally at the organisation. The successful digitisation of a complex customer journey at BaptistCare demonstrated the business value of technology and has opened up exciting new avenues for exploration including the possibility of using voice recognition badges to take clinical notes.
As Daniel said, their API approach has resulted in “happy customers, happy staff, and a well run organisation.”
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