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Exploring the opportunities and pitfalls of new and emerging technologies in Australian local government


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Presentation delivered at Annual Future of Local Government Summit
Rydges, Melbourne, Thursday 23rd May 2013

This is a variant of the presentation delivered in April 2013 to the Municipal Association of Victoria

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Exploring the opportunities and pitfalls of new and emerging technologies in Australian local government

  1. 1. Exploring the opportunities and pitfallsof new and emerging technologies inAustralian local governmentFuture of Local Government SummitRydges, MelbourneThursday 23rdMay 2013© All rights reserved. Rob Livingstone Advisory Pty Ltd. Unauthorized redistribution prohibitedwithout prior approval. ‘Navigating through the Cloud’ and ‘Success is our story, let’s make ityours’ are Trademarks of Rob Livingstone Advisory Pty Ltd.
  2. 2. AgendaCloud under thelens
  3. 3. Session6Flickr.comTechnology fuelled Disruption + current climate:Weathering the sea of perfect stormsA perspective on Emerging Technologies
  4. 4. Organisations across the board, are finding themselves in the‘perfect storm’ arising from the combination of forces:•The first, and most influential of these forces in my view, is theincrease uncertainty and volatility facing Australian organisations,whether public, private or government. This tends to drivestechnology decision making which is increasingly focussed on theshort term.•The second influence is the fundamental shift in the expectations ofenterprise IT by other executives and the business as a whole. Thisis a direct consequence of having first hand exposure to userfriendly, low cost (or free) consumer grade IT technologies andsolutions, and compelling marketing from IT vendors.A perspective on Emerging Technologies
  5. 5. Organisations across the board, are finding themselves in the‘perfect storm’ arising from the combination of forces:•The third is inconsistency of business strategies acrossorganisations. This presents a challenge for those in IT leadershiproles, who are expected to respond to inconsistent short termdemands, some of which are fragmented, not always well thoughtthrough, potentially contradictory and not always in the long term bestinterests of the organisation.•The fourth is the expectation that IT leadership should not appear astechnologists. The ‘new IT leader’ should be able to communicateclearly in ‘business speak’ and turn technical, governance and riskcomplexity into plain language.A perspective on Emerging Technologies
  6. 6. A perspective on Emerging TechnologiesDetermining the optimal approach in theuse of Technology for the enterprise isnot a trivial exercise
  7. 7. 2012Context: Global influences
  8. 8. 2012Context: Global influences
  9. 9. • Potential for cross-organisational collaboration to achieve jointoutcomes using emerging technologies a now reality.– Question is, what is the appetite for a change from theorganisational perspective.• The opportunities for LGs to maximise the upside potential ofdisruptive, new and emerging technologies exists– This will, however require a coherent and deliberate ‘umbrella’ ITstrategy• Fragmentation and inconsistency of existing IT systems,technologies & related services across LG agenciescontributes to duplication of effort.Context: Government(Not in order of importance)
  10. 10. • Limited budget and resourcing at LG level to take on major ITinitiatives change– Seduction of the Cloud computing model – ‘pay as you go’.• State and Federal Governments collaboration sits astride anactive fault-line with occasional earthquake. A well knownexample being healthcare funding.– Question is: How does this influence LG’s willing and/orcapability to embark on a LG state-wide structural change onhow IT is used?• LG IT is ‘operational’ and has no real funding for innovation• Technology initiated disruptive change is the norm, andresponding to this volatility with legacy enterprise IT businessmodel is neither simple or risk free.Context: Government(Not in order of importance)
  11. 11. • Budgetary pressures, cost cutting, austerity, uncertaintycontribute to increasingly short term thinking and planning acrossall industries, whether public, private or Government. (result ofGFC, deficit reductions and other factors)– Appetite and capability for making big, bold changes requiringlong term thinking.– Innovation, speed, agility not easy• For LG, shifting away from locally developed, bespoke, non-integrated legacy IT systems with known cost and risk is not atrivial exercise.• Ratepayers are increasingly ‘tech savvy’ and increasingly expectconsumer style technology such as ‘apps’, etcContext: Government(Not in order of importance)
  12. 12. Context – Challenges facing Local GovernmentWhat are the key technology challenges facing LG?1.Seduction of being spoilt for choice: Cloud2.Political reality3.Governance4.StandardisationCloud – is it a metaphor for disruption?
  13. 13. Context – Challenges facing Local GovernmentChallenge #1: Seduction of being spoilt for choice: Cloud•What’s the perceived value of specific cloud offerings, vs. the actualvalue.•Cloud lowers (or can eliminate) the barrier to entry to enterprise ITsystems•The Cloud market is innovative, volatile and new products and offeringsare appearing on almost a daily basis•Cloud allows stretched internal LG IT staff to be directed to ‘valueadding’ tasks, not just keeping the lights on.•‘Pay as you go’ model removes the need for up-front capital investmentwhich is appealing for organisations that are capital constrained.•Real risk of a fragmented, inconsistent array of Cloud applicationswhich are poorly integrated, which could compound the problem•Showcasing a series of Cloud vendors without understanding the keyorganisational drivers or requirements may not be in LG’s best interests
  14. 14. Context – Challenges facing Local GovernmentChallenge #2: Political reality•At what level of government should the LG technology strategy sit?•What influence does LG have to elevate the discussion to the AustralianLocal Government of Australia (ALGA) (national) level?•Balance between local ‘loss of control’ and a coherent, well thoughtthrough ‘umbrella’ IT and technology strategy needs to be struck to:• Maximise ‘value’• Maximise collaboration between LG councils.• Minimise cost (Both short term and TCO)• Minimise risk (or at least identify the risks & mitigate)• Minimise risks associated with opportunistic vendor predation• Develop and relevant vendor management strategy
  15. 15. Challenge #3: Governance:•Map the inventory of legislative, policy or other compliancemandates to your current and any proposed cloud solutions.•Public Cloud offerings may present a range of challenges to LG inrespect of the various statutes and regulatory mandates (eg:Privacy using overseas Cloud services).•Recognise that Cloud may not eliminate the need for effective ITgovernance (eg: change control)Context – Challenges facing Local Government
  16. 16. Challenge #3: Governance: New / emerging technologies•Making sense of the myriad of position papers, guidelines etc acrossFederal and State governments no small task.• For LG: Like drinking from a fire hydrant•Based on the principle of “Here’s the guidelines, then proceed on aninformed basis!”Context – Challenges facing Local Government
  17. 17. Challenge #4: Standardisation:•Public Cloud is built on the premise of standardisation. Buildonce, use many times allows for greater efficiencies, hencelower cost.•The challenge lies in ensuring that, over the life of a specificCloud system’s use, if it cannot be configured to meet achanging environment (eg new legislation), LG may be forced toadapt or abandon that Cloud system.•Understand where the real value in the standardisation of socalled, ‘commodity IT services’ using Cloud lies. Eg: email, fileand network storage, etcContext – Challenges facing Local Government
  18. 18. Cloud Computing under the Lens
  19. 19. • Real opportunities will be identified through the systematic anddeliberate attention to what is possible, rather than looking for asolution to fix a problem.• Emerging can lower IT operational costs – but not always!• Faster delivery of IT projects and related initiatives• Increasing organisational agility through the configuration of,rather than development (e.g. coding) of systems• Universal access to smart systems using Smartphones can be agame-changer in delivering services to ratepayers• Improved coordination between LG services• Emerging lends itself to pilot project / proof of concept trials forinnovative local initiatives with low penalty costs for failures.Opportunities of Cloud Computing
  20. 20. Some Pitfalls of Cloud• Lack of clarity over what organisational problem needs solvingby the application of the latest ‘big thing’ in technology• Fragmented, localised Cloud systems could increase thesystemic (not technical) risk to LG• Vendor predation and/or individual stakeholders ‘opinions’ areno substitute to good, well informed commercial decisionmaking on new technologies.• Adopting Cloud without knowing your exit or ‘transition-out’strategy at the start• Inappropriate pre-purchase due diligence leading to realproblems• Lack of visibility of total cost of ownership• Legal and jurisdictional issues associated with overseas Cloudproviders
  21. 21. • Integrating Cloud systems with any others can be costly & complex• Security – You are at the mercy of the provider’s standards• Business Continuity• Identity Management• Forensics• Contractual complexity….. To name but a fewSome Pitfalls of Cloud
  22. 22. • Recognise that Cloud computing is only one of a number ofnew and emerging, potentially disruptive technologies• Clarify what problems you’re trying to fix first, then identify thepotential solutions• Do not necessarily, make public Cloud, or any specifictechnology your default position without careful assessment.• Due diligence is the weapon of choice in the fight againstfuture systemic risks.What next?
  23. 23. W: www.rob-livingstone.comE: rob@rob-livingstone.comP: +61 2 8005 1972M: +61 419 632 673F: +61 2 9879 5004Tw: @rladvisoryROB LIVINGSTONE- Fellow, University of Technology, Sydney- Principal, Rob Livingstone Advisory Pty LtdThank You!© All rights reserved. Rob Livingstone Advisory Pty Ltd. Unauthorizedredistribution prohibited without prior approval. ‘Navigating through theCloud’ and ‘Success is our story, let’s make it yours’ are Trademarks of RobLivingstone Advisory Pty Ltd.