Creating the ultimate digital proposition for a city.

The Ultimate Digital Proposition (UDP) portrays a destination such as a city as an integrated digital productivity hub, one with a thriving digital economy where digital businesses can start and thrive, intellectual property is developed and products are brought to market.

As a result, the city develops an international reputation, not only as a place where people want to live and work, but as a centre for global digital leadership, attracting talent and investment from all over the world.

Governments recognise that the digital economy is now too big to ignore and that digital technologies are critical enablers of innovation and productivity. It will create new employment opportunities and whole new industries by lowering costs and other barriers to entry, and removing geographical limitations. This will especially benefit cities by connecting them directly to global markets.

To achieve these ambitions, cities must aim to become digital productivity hubs in their own right, leveraging cloud infrastructure, world class digital events, research skills, business architecture, community engagement, access to export markets and high quality digital production. They must also become renowned as a hot-bed for startups and as a magnet for inward investment. Action is needed at government level to define and deliver the environment within which this reputation can evolve.

Capital cities are not necessarily the best at developing UDP’s. Regional cities are often quicker and nimbler and therefore better placed to respond to the opportunities presented by the digital economy. Ironically, regions are excellent at presenting a united front around sectors like tourism in the interest of external promotion while simultaneously maintaining a competitive internal market. Despite what we know about the value of the Internet economy, this still isn’t happening for digital. I am not aware of a role or initiative at any level of government anywhere whose sole focus is to deliver the Ultimate Digital Proposition.

Individual initiatives which could form the basis of a homogeneous digital showcase are usually managed and implemented independently of each other. Governments tend to give responsibility for anything related to digital to their ICT Department. However this will not work in at least one critical area of the Ultimate Digital Proposition – attracting inward investment. Meanwhile Trade & Investment Departments usually do not have a deep enough grasp of digital to promote it as aggressively as they do other sectors – such as the aforementioned tourism.

Last year, Gartner declared Brisbane’s digital economy strategy to be an example of global digital leadership. Accolade’s such as this should provide a clear motivation for a city to go further and create its Ultimate Digital Proposition. The UDP is multifaceted as its captures the essence of domestic digital economy activity within the city while at the same time developing its global reputation as a place where “cool digital stuff happens, and you should be part of it.”

Cities can do a number of things to create their UDP. A digital achievement audit or competition would highlight the collective digital excellence of its companies, universities, start-ups, local authorities and not-for-profits. It should also identify and recognise the efforts and achievements of its digital champions. It also needs to convert the following core objectives into KPI’s that it has the capability to deliver:
  • Providing the capacity for high-speed, high-volume digital transactions.
  • Transforming existing businesses and building new ones that are born online.
  • Positioning the city as a digital hub for investment and innovation.
  • Creating enhanced quality of life through the delivery of public digital services.
Infrastructure is an important element of a city’s economic development activity. In the digital age there needs to be a better balance between investment in digital infrastructure and physical infrastructure and between intellectual property and physical property. It follows that in a digital economy, achieving a more appropriate balance of investment across these areas will contribute to economic growth. Among the activities that can form part of this growth are educating businesses, leadership innovation, leveraging IPR from startups and supporting initiatives relating to knowledge creation.

All digital initiatives currently being managed independently in a typical city may continue to be managed independently, but should be showcased together in support of the city’s holistic digital vision. Wherever possible deliverables of a digital nature should be announceables of the city’s digital strategy. City digital strategies are becoming increasingly enshrined in economic development plans not just in ICT strategies. In this way the development of the Ultimate Digital Proposition can maintain more of a customer-focused, commercial perspective and be more relevant to the economic development of the city than if it were managed inside the ICT Department alone.

To oversee the development of its UDP, the city would need to appoint a full-time senior digital advocate, such as a Chief Digital Officer, as high up the organisation management structure as possible, ideally at Senior Executive level. This would have to be an appropriately resourced digital leadership role, developing the city’s digital strategy and overseeing its implementation, working not only with city officials but with senior stakeholders including Government, academia, technology providers, the business community and the start-up sector.

The senior digital advocate role would reflect and embrace an emerging focus by the city on new thinking for the digital era, on the one hand within the city’s digital ecosystem where it would encourage the growth of e-skills, e-Government and e-commerce and support business, research and innovation, and on the other hand as a destination ambassador for the city, fronting its Ultimate Digital Proposition beyond the city walls by establishing and promoting the city’s global reputation for digital excellence.
kieran o'hea digital officer
KIERAN O’HEA IP//DIGITAL Practice lead – Former Chief Digital Officer of the City of Brisbane.
Formerly the first Chief Digital Officer of Brisbane. He led the development of Digital Brisbane, the five-year digital economy strategy for the city. Deliverables included the Brisbane Digital Audit, the Chair of Digital Economics and the Digital Brisbane strategy. In its first year the strategy engaged with 30,000 SMES and funded 25 start-ups. Previous achievements include developing digital strategies for the Irish Government and a digital capability framework for the European Commission. His work in this area also features in the UK Government digital strategy.

How do I manage change for organisational renewal?

During and beyond transitions to ICT as a Service. 

cloud computing model

CIOs and business change leaders will face many challenges when moving to ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) as a Service. The momentum for change in public sector organisations and the pressure generated by expectations for action and results have been accelerated by recent government decisions and a growing sense of urgency that we need to get on with this.ICT as a service is commonly referred to as cloud hosting, cloud solutions or cloud outsourcing Put simply, it means that your organisation has decided to meet all or some of its ICT needs by purchasing services and/or renting assets, applications and storage space from suppliers rather than by owning and managing them. Transitions from one business model to another are commonly referred to as cloud deployments. Such transitions require a fundamental shift in your ICT and IM (Information Management) strategies and the business processes, stakeholder relationships and resources that support them.

Future directions set by state and federal governments are the main drivers for change. The Queensland Government for example, has adopted a cloud first policy to enable it to transition to lower cost, standard and interchangeable services, where quality improvement and cost reductions are driven by competitive market forces. Market forces, increased market share, profitability and growth remain the main drivers for private sector organisations to adopt cloud solutions. Other drivers may be known or will emerge as business leaders make decisions that will guide their ICT as a Service strategy and set the scene for renewal of organisational mission and purpose. Together they create a compelling case for re-thinking your information management (IM) strategies and the capabilities you will require to deliver them.

Transformational versus incremental change

TransformationThe approach to change that will best support a successful transition to a new business model is transformational rather than incremental although transformational change is usually implemented in manageable stages. Transformational change disrupts the current state and the roles, working relationships, business processes and behaviours that are embedded there and where the capabilities developed from your business technologies have become self-sustaining. The focus is on wholesale business changes that will be required to ‘unfreeze’ the current state and transition to a future state, while ensuring that your people will be ready to embrace a new business model and new ways of working with stakeholders and suppliers.

Transformational Change

What transformational change means will be understood differently from department to department and program to program. There is no one-size-fits-all template. The dynamics of transformational change may also be different from your previous experience with change management. Your business drivers, the type of cloud/s you decide on, the services you will purchase, deployment and migration complexity, unique workforce impacts and contractual relationships with your suppliers will guide your decision making and signal what your transition planning will need to cover.

Transition planning
transition planning
Moving to ICT as a service is a transition that takes your organisation to a desired future state. One of the main transition activities will be to build strong and lasting relationships with those suppliers or cloud hosting organisations who will become your service delivery and information partners. Another is the alignment of your people, processes and systems with your new cloud architecture and your new business or service delivery model. These alignments are important because of the role they play in stabilizing the business environment as the transition occurs. They may take more than one developmental step, depending on how embedded the current state is, the complexity of the transition and how ready and motivated your people are.

Building new capabilities

building new capabilitiesWe are working more and more with clients to help them get their people from where they are to where you need them to be as ICT as a Service transitions occur. We recognise that each business environment is different and that the pathway for a successful transition will vary. Above all, it requires business leaders and sponsors who can articulate a clear vision of their future state, the rationale for change and the plan to get there.

The capabilities required for ICT as Service environments are likely to be different from those that have served your organisation well in the past. The pathway for building or acquiring new capabilities will be an important part of your workforce transition. Common practice nowadays is to use a methodology or framework that leads to soundly based decisions. Gartner’s IS Lite approach for example, enables business leaders to formulate their vision for optimal information systems (IS) performance and decide which services can be exited and which capabilities should be retained and attained internally. This vision can then guide workforce transition strategies and plans to define and build new capabilities from old.

Building new capabilities also requires a depth of understanding about what new skills will be needed and whether these can be developed internally and/or acquired. A good starting point is to understand and respect the capabilities that are embedded in your current state plan for the retention of critical skills and knowledge.

Lessons learned

lesson learned

Case studies in Australia and elsewhere have already revealed some of the challenges for cloud deployments. Not surprisingly, a common feature is the imperative to get the deployment done quickly and successfully while also containing costs. Change management, infrastructure, migration complexity, vendor and supplier relationship building, time taken to build or acquire new capabilities and what to do with owned ICT assets, all feature in the literature that is available. Enabling changes required for procurement policy, capital versus expense cost structures and understanding current and benchmark costs for new business models have also arisen.

Case study 1

For a state government department, cloud hosting services provided an opportunity to integrate a myriad of different systems, each with their own administrative processes, into one. The current state was characterised by cumbersome and manual processes, difficulty in getting accurate information and embarrassing delays when responding to routine requests for information. The preferred option was software as a service hybrid solution which comprised of a private and a public cloud for different user audiences and information security standards.

Implementation of the solution took place within an aggressive timeframe and was widely regarded as a successful example of how to do large-scale software as a service (SaaS) deployment. It was not however without its challenges. Lessons learned revealed that change management was the biggest challenge and that implementing cloud best practice required a major and continuous effort to ensure that new practices were adopted.

Next Steps

the next steps

Your organisation may already have a change management methodology that has served you well in the past or a preferred approach to managing either incremental or transformational change. Information Professionals recommends that you familiarise yourself with our other publications and consider your approach against the following business change principles. They will serve as a reality check and guide you on the right path:

• Know your business risks, drivers for change and your cost structures and choose the pathway to ICT as a service that provides the best fit solution. What has worked well in one organisation may not necessarily work in another.

• Plan your transition around the program and project management life-cycle. Project management, business change, infrastructure optimisation, supplier engagement and workforce change products will overlap. They should be integrated for best effect.

• Treat your cloud deployment and transition planning as a business transformation project rather than an ICT project

• Be ready to communicate concepts that may be unfamiliar or not understood by your staff, stakeholders and suppliers, clearly explaining what they mean and who and what will be impacted. Focus on communicating the vision and rationale for change, what will happen and why. Be honest and keep expectations realistic about what is to come.

• Define the capabilities required for your future state and plan to build new capabilities from old. Keep in mind that these types of transitions are new and that it will take time to build or acquire new capabilities as your new business model takes shape.

• Know the value and cost structures of your ICT and IM assets and show that you understand and respect what is embedded in the current state. Aim to preserve the ‘know how’ that is there for continuing internal use or knowledge transfer to vendors and suppliers.

• Help your stakeholders – including future suppliers (where this is in your interest) to get ready for ICT as a service. Use these interactions as opportunities to build and strengthen the working relationship.

Success criteria

nailed it

Increasingly being successful at transformational change relies on speed of adaptation and the avoidance of lengthy and de-motivating implementation cycles that can undermine your transition planning and stakeholder engagement efforts. There is a constant need to balance immediate and longer-term interests. Successful transitions to new business models also require thought, care and attentiveness to planning and sequencing of business, deployment and workforce change initiatives. Most importantly, the people impacted need assurances from change leaders and business sponsors that their work efforts are valued, that no-one will be left behind and that there is a clear rationale for the changes they are being asked to embrace.

Janet Crews
Written by: Janet Crews 
Senior Consultant – Information Professionals
Janet is a storied, qualified, change management professional, with many years of both commercial and government based experience.
You can connect with or find out more about Janet on linkedin:

What do the ACC Sports probe, the NBN and Big Data have in common?

Each of these topics: The ACC (Australian Crime Commission) Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport investigation, the NBN (National Broadband Network), and Big Data are all very topical right now.  So what do they have in common?  I argue that they each relate to one of the latest emerging challenges associated with technology.
In Australia, the NBN is argued about every day, what technology at what cost and various options around how to do it better.  While most agree on the benefit, most arguments surround the cost and the approach being taken.  Just last week there were claims and counter claims about using Cable TV Coax as a stepping stone to a faster broadband rollout.  Albeit not as fast as fibre but quite possibly existing infrastructure that could be put to better use than it currently is.  Of course Telstra do use the Foxtel cable to provide cable internet to some degree.  In considering the best option to improve internet speed quickly across Australia, accurate data on the existing infrastructure is important.  But what happens if that data is wrong?
Well it is wrong.  How wrong I don’t know but completely wrong in some cases.  I recently moved home.  The new apartment block I moved into was ADSL only…no cable, ADSL over copper phone line.  On moving in, I plugged the usual array of cables in and Foxtel worked straight out of the wall…great!  Made we wonder what the Foxtel guy was going to do when he turned up.  He did show, and berated me for choosing ADSL over cable.  “I didn’t request ADSL” I said, “Telstra says that’s all the building has got”.  Well this bloke persisted, and I half paid attention, until he said “Give that a go”, pointing to my recently retired cable modem that he had plugged in.  He was right, Telstra was wrong, I had internet via cable! 
So how wrong are the records on what IT infrastructure exists in Australia?  Anyone who has developed business cases and considered investment scenarios know that you can change any decision with a few tweaks of input data. What impact could that have on sound investment choices, particularly a $40B investment choice? But in some respects, errors of this type in corporate data is quite normal.  So this should be expected and should (hopefully) have been catered for in every Business Case
But this use of data is a rather conventional one.  Big Data concepts take another step.  With Big Data, there is the promise that with increased data we can gain more information, more insights, make better decisions, see things that we could never see before, or if we could see them, we can now prove them as fact.  It can allow us to move beyond big monolithic data use, such as an investment case, and look at finer trends that we can apply to individual circumstance.
Big Data problem solving allows us to make decisions with more precision based on individual circumstances.  This more granular decision making can define how we treat certain customer groups, certain profiles of people, pulling apart the broader community and understanding the parts that make up one.
It could be used for instance to move beyond an Australia wide internet business case and look at internet use and needs by geographies, by profession, by family type and many more criteria.  Services can then be targeted more specifically to specific granular groups.  The more detailed the definition of the group, the more potential for more personalised services specific to each of our particular needs.  We could understand behaviours by a suburb, by a street, or an apartment block, or perhaps a family group.
The challenge when we get to this level of granularity is that error rates can skyrocket.  For instance, if there is a 5% error rate in the data stored about cable TV infrastructure in Australia, then for that 5%, the data is 100% wrong.  Let’s take my new apartment building.  Telstra’s records aren’t 5% wrong here, they are 100% wrong.  So if a marketer or a service provider or a government department was making decisions about people here based on that data they would be completely wrong.  If they told the world about that then they would misrepresent us.
So in theory, while Big Data concepts sound full of promise, small error rates on a big population group, can turn into huge error rates on a small population group.  So the quality of data and the assumptions and definitions about that data start mattering a whole lot more.
If the granularity of the data starts approaching very small groups, perhaps even groups of one, then at some point we stop being a statistic on customer behaviour and start becoming tracked, personally.  In this case, those using that data are no longer doing statistical analysis, they are starting to do personal analysis. 
If you stop to consider the type of data that is easily collected about you, then a picture can easily be built about you based merely on:
1.       Topics of interest and personal/professional relationships 
(from Phone calls and emails and other electronic communications)
2.       Financial situation and financial relationships 
(Banking and Financial transactions)
3.       Where you have been and who you have visited
(Location based tracking from smart phones)
Information gathered by a bank and a telecommunications company could easily be combined to create a picture of you based on the above.  So where should this line lie between you as a statistic and you being revealed and tracked as a person?  What rules should therefore apply to that data as it approaches the level of detail that says something about you?  This is an area of interest to policy makers, legislators and privacy advocates and understandably so.  Information at this level of granularity would need to have some obligations and responsibilities that go with it.
Data gathering and analysis at this level has typically been the province of intelligence gathering organisations.  They are regulated and trained in the appropriate use of such intelligence.  The recent Australian Crime Commission announcements have upset some that feel they have been unfairly smeared as guilty when they are not.  This has created debate about the way information of this nature should be managed and released. But these issues and the risks associated with them are moving beyond the specialised and highly regulated world of intelligence organisations and law enforcement.
Drugs in Sport
Big Data concepts will allow analysis by organisations (or groups of organisations) to approach analysis of a group of one.  And it is not currently governed by the type of control that the ACC operates under.  And as my experience of Telstra data shows, in some cases they can have the most basic of data very very wrong.  
Some people don’t care about privacy, they have nothing to hide they say and they stand for the greater good theory.  But what happens if the data held about you is wrong.  And what happens if that becomes public, or worse still, conclusions are made about you based on that flawed data. How do you defend that, and perhaps why should you have to?
With Big Data techniques, poor data integrity, lack of control and a lack of foresight by regulators about these emerging challenges, we may find that it is more than a few footballers and sports administrators facing reputation challenges in years to come.
It has been said that many technologies do not change human behaviour but accelerate or magnify the effects of it.  False rumours have been in society for ever and a day.  Will we now start facing false rumours, spread globally, and substantiated with specific facts…facts that are based on data that is fundamentally incorrect?  Is anyone looking forward to a magnified future that looks like that?

Article Written By: Mark Nicholls.
Managing Director, Information Professionals. 
Mark is one of Australia’s most trusted IT Change Management advisors. He also has other entrepreneurial business interests that he operates through MaidenVoyages.

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Are Government Systems Implementation More Difficult

With systems implementations struggling in both the private and public sectors, is there really any difference to the challanges associated with large scale IT based change.

We would argue, yes, but just as there is different areas of risk and challenge associated with every business and to some degree different business sectors.

Some of these factors that may impact upon increase risk/challenge for government includes:

  • Less clarity on objectives and measurable outcomes.  eg. does ROI count as much as other factors in government, and how measurable are these other benefits?
  • Leadership.  What can be associated with the above is the question of strength of leadership.  If the outcomes aren’t clear then how can the leadership be so….and vice versa?
  • Access to resourcing and skills.  Government can be impacted by increased constraints in gaining access to the right skills, sometimes very unique skills in driving change dont you think?

There is a few others too that may apply.  We may expand and discuss this further down the track.