Recent commentary highlighting the economic implications and likely aftershocks of recent crises and the conclusion that ‘simply getting through’ is not enough, caused me to pause and think about what we have and are seeing.

As an entrepreneur and technologist with an equally deep interest in social and economic behaviour, it’s worth reflecting in the first instance, on the rapid and significant behavioural changes that have occurred in response to the unprecedented challenges created by lock-downs and mass social displacements.

Technology is never THE answer, but . . .

Technology is never THE answer, but it seems clear that we have all turned to technology as a key mitigation response to Covid.  In our personal lives, deeper adoption of digital technologies has become even more significant for everyone; from online shopping, entertainment, ‘Zooming” with family and friends through to the very tracking and tracing necessary to combat the pandemic.

In a work and government context, digital technology has enabled:

      • Real-time data gathering and information services supporting and involving citizens – Firesnearme, COVIDsafe, coronavirus information, government broadcast information, etc.
      • Widespread home working, work team collaboration and remote studying. At AUCloud, we had first hand experience in the rapid deployment of the ANU’s remote working capability for 20,000 students and faculty 
      • Uptake of government online support services such as JobKeeper and JobSeeker applications, businesses tax exemption and relief claims, online health and medical consultations and medications/prescription issuing.

Digital technologies, often underpinned by cloud services, combined with an unseen heroic effort by many people, have enabled the rapid scaling necessary to support the above.  This would have been near impossible or certainly significantly delayed under the more traditional pontificate, design, pontificate, procure, build, pontificate, deploy, models still prevalent across many organisations.

In these and many other instances, speed of implementation (i.e. time to value) was the critical success factor.  Utilisation of cloud and digital standardisation, security and the value of scaling rapidly to meet unpredictable demand, drove a wrecking ball through any cultural desire to pontificate.

Turning to cloud-based service providers to support its own Covid risk mitigation strategy (ie the CovidSafe App), the Government has been the beneficiary of the power, agility and speed of cloud technology to implement a large scale, ‘scalable’, citizen facing solution – quickly.

One can’t help noting the irony of this.

Despite ticking the boxes of efficiency, agility, speed to market, inherent resilience and opportunity to build sovereign capability, very little of how Government operates leverages genuine cloud services, let alone, cloud native technologies. That is, technology capability that provides:

      • On demand services;
      • Broad network access (multiple services, multiple devices from multiple locations);
      • Resource pooling (infrastructure, networking, security etc to achieve efficiencies, without compromising security);
      • Rapid elasticity (to scale demand up and down as required); and
      • Metering capability, i.e., the ability to fully and transparently monitor what you use.

Perhaps equally ironically, the current dearth of cloud based services, provides a considerable doing more with less upside for Government post-covid, with opportunities for substantial cost savings leveraging cloud based standardisation, scale and automation as well as (and arguably more importantly) the economic and societal benefits of time to value, that cloud not just enables, but delivers.

While technology may never be THE answer, recent experience provides clear evidence that it is a tool with huge potential that we are simply not optimising – or certainly not until there is an urgent imperative. This must surely be a key learning for all organisations and especially Government as it seeks to drive the Australian economy out of the covid hibernation and on to the road of recovery.

AUCloud: Keeping the data of Australians in Australia