Ask any technology provider, and chances are, the common consensus will be that government business is a double-edged sword.
Challenging due to countless rounds of red tape, pages of processes and public scrutiny of the highest order.
Rewarding through the enhancement of reputation, the ability to up and cross-sell and the safety net of knowing a regular stream of technology investment is also set aside.
But as the channel draws up a lengthy list of pros and cons - no doubt leaning more towards the negatives - Datacom is driving change at the heart of government.
Leveraging strong expertise in the New Zealand sector, the technology provider continues to replicate capabilities across the Tasman, targeting the lucrative Australian market in the process.
Drawing on years of experience, the integrator has finalised plans to create a dedicated division, specifically focusing on the public sector through the an A/NZ Federal Government Practice.
“Datacom has decades of experience working with governments in New Zealand and Australia, at local, state and federal/national levels,” Datacom government practice lead, Mark Muru, told Reseller News.
“We understand that the public sector is facing the same competitive pressures around digital transformation and disruption as the private sector, with the added complexity layer around legislative requirements and government policy.
“Datacom’s experience in the sector has taught us the importance of balancing the latest technology needs with the regulatory requirements of individual agencies, while also helping them to better engage their citizens.”
Speaking to Reseller News on the ground at Cisco Live in Melbourne, Muru said Datacom has a long history of heavily investing within this space, through the development and provision of applications designed exclusively for government.
Muru said this also includes bespoke solutions that are responsive to the “unique requirements” of government business.
“This is also a huge opportunity to take those bespoke solutions across the Tasman and adapt them to new regions,” Muru added. “This has been a great success already.
“We’re seeing this success through Datacom Cloud Services for Government (DCSG), which was initially created specifically for the New Zealand Government.
“We then found success adapting it for Australia, most notably winning a seat on the panel as a GovNext-ICT provider panel in Western Australia. DCSG has continued to grow in A/NZ, and is a truly unique solution in both countries.”
As reported by ARN, Datacom was selected to deliver the West Australian Government’s GovNext-ICT plan, edging out Dimension Data, Telstra and IBM in a $3 billion deal.
Revealed in September 2016, the New Zealand-owned and operated company was selected alongside French and Japanese giants Atos and NEC, and will roll out a blend of data centre, server, cloud services, storage and telephone across all government departments.
Maintaining such market momentum, Datacom unveiled a new-look line-up of senior executives in September 2017, as part of plans to expand government capabilities across A/NZ.
Targeting both Wellington and ACT markets, the system integrator built out the division to drive new business on both sides of the Tasman.
Specifically, Steve Swallow, a Wellington-based Datacom veteran of eight years, was promoted to the new position of associate director of sales for the division, covering both Wellington and ACT.
“Early last year we moved to a single A/NZ government team, rather than operating them both independently,” Muru explained. “This ensured that we shared our expertise and specialist talent across both.
“In many cases, the challenges faced by each government were similar, as were the solutions. It made sense to combine them strategically.
“This was particularly valuable for our large IT outsourcing engagements in Canberra where the proven practices and, in some cases, our people have materially improved our services to these departments.
“Also, we’re seeing solutions and ideas going both ways across the Tasman, which I am especially proud of.”
As a result, Muru said Datacom can now leverage the “lessons learned” in each market to produce solutions of a higher quality, backed up by reliable and cost effective offerings that are reusable and stress tested.
In assessing the similarities and differences of Kiwi and Australian sectors, Muru - drawing on more than 25 years of local experience - said both government markets are aligning in terms of technology spending patterns, more so than in previous years.
“Often they to each other for models that can be reused,” he observed. “For example, there is now a focus on Whole-of-Government contracts and panels in both countries.”
According to Muru, the New Zealand Central Government model applies to both the Australian Federal and State Governments, helping to position Datacom as an experienced player within an industry constantly disrupted by competition.
Delving deeper, Muru said governments across both countries are also being disrupted in ‘how’ they get things done.
“Take procurement as an example,” he explained. “Both governments are exploring new ways of working with suppliers such as Datacom and embracing new partnership models to help them accelerate innovation.”
From a technology perspective, Datacom provides services from their data centres, including secure and government accredited cloud platforms such as DCSG.
Furthermore, and of note to the channel, the market has also experienced an increased focus on managed services, delivered through the provider’s infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) programmes, which is primarily focused on utility and consumption models.
“Namely, if you don’t use it, don’t pay for it,” Muru qualified. “We also have similar operations with government departments providing desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) and more advanced solutions such as telecommunications-as-a-service (TaaS).”
Collectively, Muru said such solutions combine to provide cost effective offerings for public sector bodies, of which can be passed onto the taxpayer.
“We also want to help these public sector bodies to get back to the business of government, not worrying about their ICT ‘day-to-day’ such as maintenance and hosting,” he added. “Leave that to us.”
In looking ahead, Muru said key priorities within the sector evolve around leading with people who bring “experience, insight and imagination” to the table, backed up by relevant experience and offerings.
“We have to listen learn and improve, while ensuring that we use our scale to bring operational excellence and efficiencies,” he added. “And also, that we use data to guide decisions that help our clients.”
For Muru, the demands of the users to receive the same user experience and functionality on consumer devices, such as their iPhone and Android phones, also means that communities expect the same ease-of-use in government interactions.
“This is a challenge being faced globally,” he observed. “Datacom has invested substantially in artificial intelligence and technologies such as virtual assistants, including with IP Australia and other government bodies, to help improve the quality of citizen engagement.”
Furthermore, Muru said there has been an increased awareness of data security and privacy around the world, and this especially includes the public sector where the protection of citizen’s data is vital.
“All of Datacom’s products and solutions focus on security as a priority, baked in, and functioning to the highest government standards as required,” he added.
“Datacom will also be investing further in our security businesses across the next year, including DTSS.”