Never let a good crisis go to waste

ANZ public sector leaders have adjusted to more change in the last 18 months than at any time outside of war. COVID enabled long-stalled technology initiatives in many organisations. Anything related to remote working and organisational resilience got the green light with administrative processes significantly shortened and a ‘get it done’ approach opening many doors.

The need to find rapid solutions to both technology and people solutions at scale led to multiple deployment in timeframes that were ‘unthinkable’ a few months earlier. The shift in the perceived value of technology represents an ongoing opportunity to modernise legacy platforms with modern SaaS business solutions.

The challenge for the public sector will be embedding that uplift in responsiveness and ‘guard against recidivism’ in bureaucratic processes once the crisis is over.

This is amongst the six key take-aways from an independent Omdia report entitled “Governance, Leadership and Learnings from the Pandemic” developed from through interviews, discussions, and dialogue sessions with ANZ public sector executives and sponsored by TechnologyOne.

‘Any time, Any place, Any device’ is the future

Omdia identified that as well as it being easier to push against a ‘half open door’ for technology upgrades, the rapid adoption of Work From Home required a swift pivot to an ‘any time, any place, any device’ support model. This shows no sign of abating.

This paradigm shift, coupled with a speedy adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) based services, has broken the physical connection to office for many. All of this was technically possible before but, as the report calls out, ‘COVID gave cultural permission to actually do it’.

Along with the flexibility of remote working come associated security and governance challenges, especially for organisations who are used to a wall around their information.

With the physical perimeter largely gone, risk models and staff guidance have had to adapt to take account of the uncertainty of who else might be in a shared workspace (i.e, who is sitting on the other side of the kitchen table!) and re-architect technology using a ‘zero trust’ perspective.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect in that workplace change is that end-users routinely surprised their IT organisations by their self-help capabilities. Even senior executives and board members embraced technology far quicker than had been anticipated leading to a realisation that ‘IT doesn’t have to do everything’.

“I’d rather be an opera singer”

In the early months of the pandemic managers reported a tendency for staff to ‘hunker down’ with separation rates falling due to initial uncertainty. However, as the situation progressed churn has increased, with high performers re-assessing their life priorities.

The ‘great relocation’ away from congested cities, facilitated by remote working and coupled with the ‘great resignation’ to pursue different goals will make staff recruitment, motivation, and retention one of the most pressing post-pandemic priorities.

Agility is essential to survive the unexpected

The global pandemic has been described as a completely unexpected ‘Black Swan’ event however the Omdia report identifies that many agencies recognised that their ability to deal rapidly and effectively with the pandemic was due to a combination of good planning and good luck.

Those that had previously made strategic decisions that supported organisational agility by, for example, having already moved to a flexible, remote-working capability and migrating core business systems to scalable, enterprise-grade SaaS solutions, were better placed to adjust when the unexpected eventuated.

As the report concludes:

“We can’t readily contemplate the next ‘Black Swan’ event – which makes it impossible to specifically plan for – but we can be sure it will happen, making it imperative we continue to design for flexibility, agility, and organisational resilience.”

Download the full report now at Omdia Report – Governance and leadership in the Public Sector – TechnologyOne.

Omdia undertook executive interviews and moderated thought leadership events, sponsored by TechnologyOne, where public sector executive leaders reflected on their organization’s experiences through the pandemic and identified learnings for the future.