Helping Australians Return to Work Safely and Intelligently

While Australia faces challenges of a second wave and discusses the safe return to work, our most recent episode of the Best Run Podcast explored responsive recovery in the public sector.

I spoke with Ryan van Leent, Public Sector SME at SAP, and Chris Peck, Executive General Manager of Public Services for SAP ANZ, to look at how governments can be more responsive in helping people and businesses recover from COVID-19.

Chris noted the rapid coordination of industry responses throughout the start of this year. “A few of my observations revolve around the speed with which we’ve been able to do things, whether it be businesses or, more importantly, governments,” he said. “A good example is the bushfire recovery agencies breaking down silos and forming a national body to look and manage the bushfire recovery. In relation to that would be the national cabinet – really cutting across those borders and providing a unified and confident front to COVID-19.”

Ryan offered his personal experiences during 2019-2020 bushfire season, which threated the safety of his home and drove his family to seek safety after internet and power were cut. Thankfully, the fire front passed and left his home untouched, but the experience has highlighted the value of real-time data.

“A key area of focus for me is data-driven government, but that experience drove home for me the importance of real-time information to make life-critical decisions,” he explained. “And again, during the COVID-19 crisis, we’re relying on analytics to trace the spread of coronavirus in real time to inform these types of critical policy decisions. We really just need to look for opportunities to embed analytics throughout our business processes and operational systems – make decisions in the moment when it matters most.

“People in crisis really expect all levels of government to work together to provide the leadership and support pretty desperately needed at during these circumstances. I think it’s that realisation that resulted in the creation of the national cabinet, which has really introduced a new level of collaboration in our federal and state governments.”

As our nation faces recession-level unemployment numbers, SAP has written a public policy paper helping Australians get back to work in response to the Prime Minister’s request for new policy ideas. Chris explained the six themes and recommendations outlined in the paper.

  1. Digitalising small and medium businesses, which employ almost half of Australia’s population and are critical to our national economic and social recovery.
  2. Building cross collaboration throughout public service and providing the data and technology necessary for creating a most holistic understanding of business lifecycles.
  3. Improving efficiency across all business operations within government and creating a more digitally skilled and connected public service.
  4. Focusing on investment going into infrastructure projects, particularly at state level, and applying digital engineering.
  5. Utilising smart borders, which was important for keeping skilled people moving across borders, and now paramount in keeping people from moving across state borders during this pandemic.
  6. Using intelligent technologies and data analytics to drive responses to unemployment.

Chris expanded on the last point, “We need to utilise technology better, bring big subsets of data together that government already owns, but applying and combining that with some new insights on sentiments of bush fire victims – and now Jobseekers – to help create jobs, stimulate the right employment opportunities in the right places and times.

“First, we need to improve data access. Second is data quality, ensuring high quality and consistency. Last is fighting through data fog since the sheer amount of data makes it difficult. Designing and deploying ongoing data collection activity for things like Jobseeker and the businesses engaged in the Jobseeker program will assist Australians getting back to work.”

Ryan highlighted the value of combining operational and experience data, particularly as governments manage the social and economic recovery of different industries and regions. SAP has also prepared a responsive government playbook (available here) that is full of scenarios that agencies can use to be more proactive in understanding what’s happening citizens and why.

“Our research tells us that citizen transaction and process transparency were the leading indicators of trust in government,” Ryan said. “Based on that, we set about creating a responsive government playbook that could be used by agencies, firstly for the drivers into customer satisfaction, and then to formulate personalised responses based on what they’ve learned.”

My guests agreed that governments need to work more collaboratively, across departments and with its citizens to be more responsive and communicative during this crisis, particularly as we face the challenges of unemployment, citizen safety, and industry recovery.

To learn more listen to the complete episode of the Best Run Podcast here.

This article originally published on Linkedin.