Auckland Council’s ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) department recently presented their ICT Strategy to the Supplier Community.

In doing so they have set a new benchmark for openness and the way in which they shared their challenges with the audience.  It was great to learn in detail what Council are working on and planning to do, and the areas where they would appreciate advice and assistance.  Mark Denvir (ICT Director) acknowledged they can’t be expected to know everything themselves.

Whilst SAP remains at the centre as their core system, the intention is to use APIs to create opportunities for smaller agile businesses. This is viewed as a real “win-win”, with Council experiencing faster implementations and lower cost while Digital Technology businesses – especially Kiwi owned ones – benefit from access to opportunities.

As Mark noted that Councils are complex businesses. Auckland is the largest in Australasia and large by world standards, so their systems cover a vast range of requirements and opportunities. Their aspirational Vision illustrates the extent of future opportunities “Through the innovative application of technology, we aim to make Auckland Council the most efficient and customer focussed local body in the world”.

Thrown down the gauntlet

So Auckland Council have thrown down the gauntlet and it would be great to see other public sector organisations take up the challenge to emulate or exceed the new standard for openness and disclosure that Auckland Council has set.  They are definitely to be applauded for what they’ve done.

NZRise hopes New Zealand owned Digital Technology companies will be the beneficiaries of this Council’s approach. We hope other Councils and the wider public sector will also consider that the businesses who create jobs in NZ, adding to the move towards a high wage economy as well as contributing to the community, should get a fair go in winning contracts to help those public sector organisations become more efficient.

At a recent meeting with NZRise board members, Mark explained that part of the background to the Strategy was gaining the ability to assume more risk when appropriate which will help Council contract with smaller NZ businesses that offer Innovation and Agile Solutions – which would be delivered more quickly and at lower cost.

Mark noted  a lot of the risk for big contracts is borne by the provider leading to most public sector tenders won by the largest organisations with the capacity to take a hit if something goes wrong. This comes at the expense of smaller providers who can be more nimble and cost effective but do not have the capability to absorb the financial impact in the same way.

The NZRise board applaud and endorse Mark’s approach, which seems very well aligned with the new Govt’s objective to grow the local ICT sector to become the 2nd largest contributor to GDP by 2025. It also honours the Coalition Agreement’s intent to give NZ businesses more access to Govt contracts.

Noel Reid, for the NZRise Board.

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