Three things we learnt from the NZ Government Digital Transformation Conference

11 Nov, 2020

At the end of October AMS proudly exhibited at the 4th Annual Government Digital Transformation Conference in Wellington. It was significant as the first face-to-face event we have been able to attend in a long time.  It was also a great way for new members of our team to meet key influencers amongst both the attendees, speakers and exhibitors. 

The conference topic was “Enabling Digital Service Delivery and Citizen Engagement” – topics AMS is particularly passionate about.  Over the two days we took time to learn off others, share ideas and build relationships – here is a summary of three key things (amongst the many) we took away.

1. Digital Transformation Success Stories

Understanding what different departments had achieved was a key means of encouraging others to do the same - or at least rethink their approach to technology adoption and digital transformation.  Case studies from ACC, Payments NZ, Canterbury and West Coast DHB, NZ Police, Education NZ, and others, all illustrated key learnings to help move the Government technology stack forward and served to encourage other local and central government entities to do the same.  

There was a strong message of “not being scared to try something new”.  We are hopeful this extends to both local and central Government procuring more locally built products. The NZ software industry can have an important role to play in our economic recovery as there is real value in being able to connect directly with those building, installing and supporting the software being used.

2. Our future is significantly in the cloud

There was a strong theme encouraging a “cloud-first” approach to digital transformation - reflecting AMS’ own transition to the cloud with AMS Pulse.  The benefits cloud brings with evergreen management are significant across Government including:

• no longer needing the physical infrastructure to support the solution(s) you’re using,

• system upgrades are all managed for you, and

• security patching is seamless.

3. What cloud is, can be widely interpreted

In talking about cloud strategy it also became clear that what we mean by ‘cloud’ is still widely interpreted.  Many still see it as only being a public cloud (e.g. Azure, AWS, GCP, Umbrellar, Catalyst Cloud etc.) or having to be accessed via a website or browser – and this creates some misconceptions.  While it may seem to be a minor detail, it is a big deal when you are talking about apples and someone is thinking pears.  Cloud software is increasingly sophisticated, secure and flexible; not having a clear understanding of this can colour a conversation before it even starts.

In a two-day programme with multiple streams and a short time on each topic, there is also a limit to the depth you can go.  Many of the presentations were therefore at a relatively high level, focused on “what we need to do” versus the “how” of actually achieving the outcomes.  Having said that – the ability to connect and collaborate at events like this is a significant part of starting conversations that should result in the digital transformation the Government is looking for.