Notes from the event
As the keynote speaker I started by telling the audience that humans weren’t naturally rational thinkers – which might not have been the best way to open an event!
However I also explained how we can use processes to recognise and compensate for the risk of impulsive or otherwise non-rational decisions, employing methodologies such as POST (People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology) from Forrester Research.
In the next presentation, Tracey from Australia Post told us that we already have enough technology to last a lifetime. The question is – how do we use it in more meaningful ways?
She talked about Australia Post’s ‘Launch and Learn’ process, where they don’t spend excessive time on complex business plans, launch fast, iterate quickly and kill solutions where they don’t resonate with customers, rather than allowing them to live on, draining resources.
Brady, also from Australia Post, then told the audience that they are now thinking screens, not platforms such as ‘web’ or ‘mobile’.
He talked about the huge cost-efficiencies of online, how Australia Post was able to handle 50 million online contacts with an investment of less than $1 in staff, whereas their contact centre costs $50 million to service 5 million contacts.
Brady also talked about how agencies need to unleash the social media talent already within them, hiring where necessary to buttress skills and capabilities and get senior buy-in, the higher the better!
Next, Meg from Archives in State Records talked about her role and the challenges facing archivists in taking 25 year old records and preserving them for ever in accessible formats.
She explained the importance of archives, and how data from them had been used to prevent a man from being deported (through finding his primary school records) and where data was not provided to archives it cost a great deal more for an infrastructure project, which had to dig up the building to find the power conduits when there was no record of their location.
She reminded agencies that it was their responsibility to keep their data for the 25 years before it was handed to Archives, and that metadata was important, particularly for digital information that it is difficult to see inside.
Meg told the audience that it is possible, and not to painful, to archive social media channels – with Archives WA using backupify, downloading and storing the data every week.
David from Ernst and Young then challenged the audience to think BIG – about big data.
He said it can inform and support government policy and service delivery.
David outlined how we need to rethink how we collect, store and analyse big data, and said that while humans had created 2.75 zetabytes of data in our history up until now, we were likely to double this in the next two years.
Next Peter from the State Library brought the audience back into the physical world – at least most of the way – with ‘books and bytes’. He detailed how people want access NOW and how while the library was attracting 1.5 million visitors each year through the door, it was receiving a million online, and was almost as much a virtual organisation as a ‘bricks and mortar’ one.
Peter discussed the YES Enquiry system, which is capturing customer questions and staff responses, allowing them to be reused and to keep answers consistent over time.
He advised the audience to let staff use the technology early, so they are familiar with it, and reminded that it was critical to train staff on new systems BEFORE they went live so that they could help customers effectively. Otherwise customers might lose faith in staff and the organisation, and staff would themselves feel disempowered and demotivated.
Peter recommended that all systems be built with a feedback system, so your customers can comment and help you improve over time. Peter also discussed how the library was now in competition globally against other libraries, however that digital was their future.
Finally, Colin Murphy, the WA Auditor-General, reported on the latest round of testing of WA agency firewalls. He said that agencies had hardened their outer firewalls, but haven’t done much work to address internal defensive layers.
He recommended more risk management, appropriate configuration and testing and regular software updates.
Colin said that they’ve flagged the cloud for future reviews and reminded the audience that they need to be mindful of security frameworks to use it well.
Colin also said that he was hopeful that agencies were now on an upwards trend regarding the security of their systems, with more than half above the ‘red line’ used to test security.
He recommended that agencies don’t shy away from ‘Shiny New Things’ where they offered value for organisations, but that instead they ensure that they understand the risks and implications for security and take appropriate mitigations as required.