Changing landscape fuels public sector evolution

Around the world, the public sector landscape is changing drastically, with rapid advances in technology, a decade long global financial upheaval an evolving political and regulatory environment.

This coupled with shrinking budgets is forcing organisations to choose between developing physical or digital infrastructure.

One of the key choices faced by leaderships in these organisations is the harsh reality of having to decide between building physical bridges or digital bridges.

Emergence of digital-first organisations

Public sector organisations across Australia and New Zealand are undertaking digital transformation projects at local, state and federal levels.

They are driven by both the need to do more with less and the political and regulatory climate in the country.

An increased burden placed on governmental organisations and regulated markets has resulted in a greater appetite to deliver shared services with each other and suitable partner organisations.

This has increased the focus on digital transformation, existing digital cultures and the state of leadership in these organisations.

Digital cultures within public sector organisations

‘Digital culture’ refers to the relationship between humans and technology, and that the Internet and technology heavily influence behaviour and thinking.

When applied to public sector organisations, the term refers to how these organisations are exploiting the advances in modern technology to enhance or change its residents’ quality of living, and to accommodate a rapidly changing environment and unending human needs.

These organisations find it important to keep pace with technological trends and investment and most of their new technology ideas come from within their organisations.

Strong leadership is a characteristic of these organisations and their leaders recognise that key transformation projects impact organisation structures and result in changes to current roles within the organisation.

Role of leadership

Strong leaders are digital enablers and agents of change that steer an organisation and the community through massive technological revolutions.

They build digital bridges that connect the public sector with the community, stakeholders and end users.

However, they need to be backed by a sound strategy and clear communication, investment in technology and a positive organisational culture to drive change.

Leadership does not necessarily mean mastering every digital and technological innovation implemented in an organisation but stands more for ‘digital congruence’.

This is a strategy that aligns different cultures, people, tasks, and organisational structure to synchronise the confluence of differences into a synergistic vehicle to deliver change.

Leading in digital first environments

Technological advances continually open up new possibilities in building efficiencies, delivering services and storing data.

A digital-first organisation embraces and understands the rapid evolution of technological advances and actively seeks digital ways of working

This is a shift that is often difficult for many people to embrace but is as much about the organisation and people as it is about the technology.

In Australia and New Zealand, limited working budgets is one of the top barriers to leading change.

Local government organisations face the challenge of balancing a reduced fiscal envelope to run their business-as-usual duties while also attempting to generate innovative outcomes responding to both their community and industry best practice.

Other barriers include organisational culture, speed of technological changes and conservative leadership.

Future of a digital first public sector

Technology is here to stay and is the new normal for public sector organisations.

This will not only disrupt the way they function but will also lead to changes that may require retraining or changes to the organisation structure.

When embracing this reality, organisations need to ascertain their priorities and take steps to bring about transformative change, and that starts from within.

Digital first leadership needs to be supported by strategic vision and investment in technology, open communication and a collaborative approach to digital transformation.

The ability of every single leader not only depends on the individual but also on the stage of the organisation in terms of digital maturity.

Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at  

Sign up to the Government News newsletter

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required