What is 4IR and why does government need to adapt?

The fourth industrial revolution has arrived and governments need to keep pace if they want to main public trust, a technology conference has heard.

The concept of a fourth industrial revolution, following steam, electricity and computers, was originally put forward by the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab, whose 2016 book explored both the perils and benefits of the new digital landscape.

The fourth industrial revolution, which has also been referred to as 4IR or Industry 4.0, describes the age of intelligence and encompasses technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, 3D printing and cloud computing.

According the Word Economic Forum, it has the potential to connect billions of people to digital networks, improve the efficiency of organisations and transform asset management.

Casey Coleman (L), Stephen Haisman (C) and Salesforce’s Glenn Rozet.

New digital order

Speaking at the Salesforce 2019 World Tour Event in Sydney on Wednesday, former CIO of the US General Services Administration (GSA) and Salesforce vice president Casey Coleman said governments around the world need to embrace the new digital order.

“We are in the fourth industrial revolution, the age of intelligence, when everything is rapidly becoming smart, connected and personalised,” she said.

Whether via a self-serve hotel booking platform or smart vending machines that know when it’s time to replenish, global brands were using the new technology to transform.

Unlike commerical operations, the public sector doesn’t exist for market share and profitability. However the need for transformation is no less imperative, Ms Coleman said.

“I would argue its actually more important for the public sector to transform itself because all the transformation around us is raising the bar of what people expect, not just from commercial companies but from the government.”

Government organisations had been building IT systems for decades and much of that technology is still in place “like concrete”, she said, resulting in a mismatch between what the public sector can deliver and what is expected by the public.

Cloud computing

Cloud platforms offered a future-ready “layering” option and integrated capabilities that can play a role in case management, outreach and engagement and relationship management as well as self-service portals and app development, attendees heard.

Stephen Haisman, Senior Director of IT at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, says DFAT has attempted to adopt a forward-looking approach to acquiring and implementing new technology including cloud-based options.

DFAT provides ICT services to 50 partner agencies and manages 107 posts and over $3.2 billion worth of commonwealth owned estates in Australia and overseas, as well as facililitating delivery of classified and unclassified material to diplomatic posts.

Haisman says in 2016 DFAT launched a fresh digital strategy based around business continuity, service delivery and responsiveness to changing needs.

He says after entering government from a background in the private sector, he realised the concept of customer service was essentially the same.

“Coming into government we need to remind each other that we still are a customer-focussed organisation. Call them citizens, call them what you want.

“But we need to keep pace with what citizens see in other organisations. Just because you’re in public service, just because you’re in government does not mean that you can’t be forward looking.

“It’s  not just about technology, it’s about culture and how you use that technology. It’s about a competitive edge. It’s about better government,” he said.

Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  

Sign up to the Government News newsletter.

Leave a comment:

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