Bold & Beautiful?
With a remit to deliver services as wide ranging and geographically dispersed as the NSW government is required to do, it’s clear that Digital Transformation isn’t going to be a walk in the park. Their current Digital Restart initiative to prioritise and accelerate the process is certainly a bold one - and I would expect universally welcomed. The scheme invites submissions from agencies in collaboration with vendors to propose projects and solutions that could accelerate their digital transformation. So here’s a thought to throw into a discussion so bold...
One of the most encouraging elements of the program is the invitation to propose projects around the theme of Capability Building:
"The project provides new approaches to the learning and skill development of NSW government employees in a risk-free environment that fosters exploration, innovation and best practices relating to the customer-service experience."
Innovation Requires Empowerment
We’ve learnt over the years that putting capable tools into the hands of savvy end users is the best way to foster innovation. Microsoft and others did it for us with spreadsheets, which were perhaps the first mass ‘citizen development’ environments. Nowadays the focus is on Low-code application development tools that allow non-programmers to develop quite sophisticated applications for PCs and mobile devices. Ideally these easily leverage existing information sources (both citizen facing and within agencies) through well structured and managed APIs, and would link into all sorts of other new technologies like IoT, location services, and alerting/monitoring services as needed.
Is ‘Home Cooking’ A Real Possibility?
The question is, is NSW smart enough to experiment with delivering at least some of this from within its own innovation network? We talk the talk - are we bold enough to walk the walk? And how are NSW companies placed to enable the NSW government to achieve their aims?
As OneBlink we’d love to see (and contribute to) an ‘exploration and innovation sandbox’ which delivered the ‘risk free environment’ that the NSW Government would like to encourage and foster as the pathway to innovation.
There’s no reason why we couldn’t do this as part of a consortium of world-class companies from NSW where there are a burgeoning number of start-ups and established innovators that could legitimately participate. Around NSW we develop world-class Low-code Application Builders (eg OneBlink), IoT Hardware (eg LX-IoT and IoTx3), Asset Location Platforms (eg Spotto), BLE Beacon/RFID tagging (eg 4id) and many more in the areas of big data, reporting and AI. The focus would need to be that all of these technologies would need to be able to be leveraged by that powerful mass of capable and skilled NSW government employees (and not just developers and IT teams) without lots of hand-holding.
An end-user-drivable set of innovative technologies in a ready-to-go cloud environment would be exciting enough - a ‘Maker Space’ for developing next generation solutions. Having them all be NSW vendor sourced would make us even more proud, particularly as all the talk and hype around sovereign capability seems to have gone to ground.
That’s not to say Minister Dominello should put all our eggs into one basket, but this NSW Government Innovation Sandbox would be a good way to combine the thirst for innovation within the government, with the innovators already firing up within the state.