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Budgets hindering digitisation for local govts

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Monday, 27 November, 2017

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A lack of budget and incompatibilities with organisational culture are the biggest barriers to achieving digital transformation within local governments in Australia and New Zealand.

This is among the key findings of research conducted by the University of Technology Sydney's Institute for Public Policy and Governance, commissioned by digital solutions and managed services provider Civica.

A survey conducted by the institute found that 70% of respondents believe that limited working budgets are a major obstacle to digital transformation, with 65% citing organisational culture as an impediment.

Other challenges include the speed of technological change (37%), difficulty meeting user expectations (32%) and a conservative leadership (25%).

In addition, while 84% of respondents view digital transformation as an opportunity, nearly one in five felt they were not given enough opportunities to learn new skills for a digital-first environment. And four in five admitted failure in implementing some digital projects.

The institute's director, Professor Roberta Ryan, said local governments in particular are struggling with limited funding, implementation and resourcing issues for digital projects.

"Many local councils have to make a trade-off. Digital services are being pushed down the list of priorities in favour of more immediate requirements to build or maintain physical infrastructure that serves to keep communities moving," she said.

"Meanwhile, the absence of leadership understanding in driving an outcome-based strategy is also hindering successful implementation of digital initiatives."

On the bright side, almost three-quarters of respondents to the survey stated that their leadership has a clearly established strategy to drive digital maturity. Civica International Managing Director Richard Fiddis said embracing digital transformation means establishing a digital culture across an organisation.

"We need leaders to make the tough calls on prioritising investment in digital infrastructure against physical infrastructure, or finding ways to justify and finance both," he said.

Civica and the institute have announced a two-year partnership agreement designed to strengthen their research collaboration. The agreement has an option to extend for a further year.

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