The Digital Productivity Conference in Brisbane this week addressed a range of technology initiatives aimed at having a positive impact on productivity.
There was a wide cross section of business and government leaders from across Australia and topics ranged from cloud computing, e-health, online government services, telework and regional development.
Regardless of political differences over the NBN rollout, there is no question about the importance of high speed broadband in Australia, and if the opinions from attendees at the conference was anything to go by then this is a hugely important initiative for Australia’s future.
Stephen Conroy, the Federal Minister for the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, opened the conference with an upbeat assessment of the opportunity presented by the NBN to Australia’s digital future and announcing an update to the government’s National Digital Economy Strategy.
This strategy announcement is “the next step to realising the Government’s vision for Australia’s Digital Future” and where a number of initiatives were announced covering the rollout of online services from government agencies, a roadmap for mobile technology initiatives and various education programs aimed at driving digital awareness.
Of particular interest to me was this last area of developing awareness, something that is critical for the government to provide more funding to in order to help small business become better informed about the compelling technology options now available to them via cloud. I was invited along with Steph Hinds from Newcastle-based accountancy firm Growthwise, to present the Cloud Computing stream and also participated in the speakers panel, along with Nick Bates (ACS) and Keith Besgrove, the DBCDE’s principal advisor on Cloud Computing.
There was a consistent message from all speakers about the inevitable dominance of cloud computing in both business and government due to the economic advantages as well as the flexibility and productivity gains that it provides. There were many real life examples explored during the session, particularly from Steph Hinds who covered case studies across retail, trade services and hospitality.
Questions from the audience during the speakers panel reflected ongoing concerns from a number of attendees about the legal, security and privacy risks that surround cloud computing. It was great to hear directly from Keith Besgrove, clearly an objective authority on the subject, dispeling a number of the myths and offer assurances about the Government’s commitment to ensure cloud computing prospers in Australia. He spoke about the Government’s work over the past 12 months in consulting with industry to create a cloud protocol that will ensure transparency of approaches and requirements of high standards from cloud providers. This is all laid out in the government’s recent paper – “The National Cloud Computing Strategy”.
I’m pleased to say that Xero was consulted on early drafts of the paper and we are even profiled as a case study (see Page 25 of the paper) as demonstration of the momentum behind cloud computing in the small businesses sector in Australia.