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Govt needs to open door to cloud

Govt needs to open door to cloud

Time for agencies to take some risk and allow smaller, more nimble firms to provide competing services, says Deloitte’s Robert Hillard

Deloitte's Robert Hillard

Deloitte's Robert Hillard

Federal government agencies should stop putting all their eggs in one cloud computing basket, take some risk and open up the door for multiple local service providers to offer competing services inside each department.

This is the view of Robert Hillard, partner and leader of Deloitte’s Australian technology consulting practice. Hillard believes this may dramatically increase the uptake of cloud services across these agencies, which has been slow due to bespoke legacy systems, concerns about public cloud security, and general aversion to risk.

Hillard was responding to last week’s release of the National Commission of Audit, which detailed ways the federal government can increase cloud uptake, including a centralised approach led by the Department of Finance.

The commission last Thursday urged that competition should be maintained in the market for cloud providers by adding new vendors and services as they become viable.

Hillard believes that this is code for governments to take a “bit of risk.”

“They’ve avoided the term risk but talked about bold plays [in the commission report], which is code in my mind for taking risk and I think that’s a good thing,” he said.

“We have argued for some time [what] should happen is that you will have services made small enough, so that you can have multiple [companies] providing the same service in competition within the one department,” Hillard said.

“I think there’s an opportunity for departments to be innovative in the way they procure clouds. Not just take risk on just one vendor [but] provide an opening to new, innovative and local providers to be paid on a per transaction basis rather than put all your eggs in one basket,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hillard said the recommendation for government to prioritise big data projects across major service delivery agencies makes sense but he warned data analysis needs to be done with e-gov initiatives.

“The danger is that if you do the data [analysis] without the ‘e-gov’, then all you are doing is using data as an indicator to do offline activities through the services that you are providing,” he said.

“So there’s a natural lag and it’s very hard to move your services around quickly. If you combine data with e-gov, you’ve got the opportunity to move services very quickly to where they are needed and optimise your resources.”

Hillard pointed out that the technology-related recommendations made by the commission join up to each other.

"Because if you open the data up, you have a cloud provider that can innovate with data, they can then sell an optimised service back to government directly through e-gov," he said.

"So you can imagine if [an agency] is trying to provide online advice or procurement of some kind; if you do it through an e-gov portal and the cloud [company] that is providing that bit of the portal is optimising the answers that you are getting based upon all of the open data that they have been getting across government.

"So you are more likely to get exactly the right answer; your experience is much better, you'll chose that particular provider because they are better, they'll get more money, the government gets more satisfaction, and ultimately you can reduce your cost per transaction," he said.

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