Digital is Up in the Clouds

Jon Cumming CDO for ACT Government is spearheading Australia’s own digital renaissance.

Jon Cumming speaking at CxO Wellington
Jon Cumming speaking at CxO Wellington

Governments have traditionally been slow to follow the trends of the digital and even the ‘phygital’ world we find ourselves in, however, this is beginning to change, with Jon Cumming spearheading Australia’s own digital renaissance.

Cumming, Chief Digital Officer for the ACT Government, was the international speaker at OmniChannel Media’s CxO Disrupt, Wellington, and explained that the backbone of Australia’s digital transformation has been up in the clouds.

“The big winning thing for us is cloud. It’s taken us a long time to wake up to this fact that cloud is a great thing.”

Cumming believes there are many different definitions of what exactly cloud is. He defines it himself as a service with some very detailed specifications.

“Cloud services are cheap and you have to pay for them by the hour. That’s what cloud is. Cloud isn’t when you pay for things at a time.”

The many definitions of cloud infrastructure have meant it is an often misunderstood concept. If you ask a typical digital employee, they will likely not associate themselves with the data storage technology.

This is where the biggest mistake is made in most organisations, Cumming believes, as beginning, a cloud facility within the business can be a catalyst for a greater digital transformation.

“The use of cloud is absolutely a proxy for digital adoption. People who get cloud, get digital.”

By using the data that has been kept safe in the cloud storage information, both public and private organisations can learn more about the citizen and use it for a greater digital presence.

The digital executive reflects on ACT’s own digital changes, noting how 80% of Canberra’s homeless citizens possess smartphones. Without the data, the government would have neglected the fact that these people need power outlets and wi-fi available to maintain communication.

However, Cumming warns against strategies that may seem like it is both digital and innovative, but rather being neither. A prime example being when Canberra introduced free wi-fi available in the city.

“Free wi-fi in the city is a great thing, it connects the homeless and many other good things, but it’s not digital. It’s not innovative.

Wi-fi has been around for ages and it’s just a piece of fundamental telecommunication should be doing anyway,” he explained.

Cumming also suggests that governments should be forward thinking, proactively looking at digital solutions to policies, rather than a reaction after belatedly realising that a new bill should have a digital check.

This is integral in the modern era as citizens expect to have access to the features online and via applications, not standing in a long queue at the local department.