This article originally appeared in Government News and has been modified for The Relativity Blog.
In July, Relativity surveyed public sector leaders from Australia and New Zealand uncovering compelling insights into the opportunities and challenges surrounding data management and cloud migration. The findings suggest that with the right processes and controls, cloud computing offers a wealth of opportunities—including helping agencies maximise the value from their data assets to inform forward looking decision-making, deliver value for money, and ultimately better outcomes for communities.
While progress on shifting to cloud-based solutions has been overwhelmingly positive, the survey also exposed a lag in data governance strategies, identifying barriers that impede migration rates despite the evident advantages.
Since the time of the survey, substantial developments in generative AI have played out in everyday public and professional settings, igniting even more interest in the cloud with the use of AI as a driving factor.
The following is an article, originally published in Australia-based Government News, that digs into the evolving trend and what it means for public sector cloud transformation.
Moving to the cloud is a top priority for most public sector agencies throughout Australia and New Zealand as they aim to leverage cloud-enabled AI, according to a recent survey by Relativity. The survey indicates that 75 percent of agencies expect to fully transition to the cloud in the next three years, signalling a significant shift toward cloud adoption. Despite this, the survey highlights a data governance challenge, as 48 percent of Australian Government agencies either lack a data governance strategy or are unsure if they have one. The findings suggest a need for expedited cloud adoption to align with evolving technological trends.
“Agencies are seeking to leverage the power, security, and flexibility of cloud to be more data-enabled and insights-driven,” says Relativity APAC Government Advisor John Wallace, who was previously CDO and senior executive leader with Australia’s corporate regulator and has worked extensively with regulatory and law enforcement agencies in Australia and overseas.
The cloud offers substantial advantages for agencies in securely capturing, storing, and utilizing data, leveraging analytics and the latest AI innovations, according to Mr. Wallace. In fact, most new AI applications, including generative AI, are largely dependent on the cloud. However, Mr Wallace says increasing security challenges will accompany the move towards cloud-enabled generative AI, and the public sector needs to build resilience to what’s an increasingly sophisticated array of cyber and data threats.
“Three-to-five years is simply too long when I look down the road at how the rate of proliferating data and cyber attacks could impact agency priorities, and outcomes will impact agency missions.
Moving to the cloud forms part of the armour that is needed. So, too, are robust cybersecurity and data governance frameworks, which are not ‘set and forget’ and must evolve in line with complexities of the data and technology landscape,” he says.
Government Releases AI Insights Brief
In a statement last September, Australia Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher, anticipating the release of an APS briefing paper on AI, emphasised that the technology will become integrated into many, if not all, government services.
This report, exploring the impact of AI on the reliability of public service delivery, marks the initial instalment of a series of Long-Term Insights Briefings aimed at enhancing policy development and planning within the public service. This underscores the gravity and trajectory of AI's role in government.
“The final insight takes a truly long-term view that, like much technology, AI will become ubiquitous and as such we need to invest in building AI literacy and digital connectivity of all people in the community. … In time [AI] will be integrated into many services, if not all,” Senator Gallagher said.
The Insights Briefing, released in late October 2023, says artificial intelligence has the potential to transform public service delivery and lead to a better experience and outcome for the community, but it doesn’t come without risks, including risks around privacy and security.
“Using AI for public service delivery is not risk free,” the paper says.
“Complex AI systems might behave unpredictably, causing unintended outcomes at a scale and speed that are hard to control.”
Mr. Wallace anticipates an exciting year ahead for tech companies like Relativity and public sector cloud adopters in 2024. Cloud computing, when implemented with the right processes and controls, provides numerous opportunities, including cost efficiencies, real-time data processing, enhanced security and compliance measures, and scalability.
“If the rate of change and innovation over the past one to two years in relation to public sector agencies transitioning to cloud and innovating with AI, particularly generative AI, is anything to go by, I’m very excited at the prospect of what 2024 and beyond may hold,” he says.
“When we framed our public sector survey in the early months of 2023, generative AI was, for many, not much more than a concept that we were striving to understand, in terms of its functionality and use case applications.
“How quickly it is becoming embedded, not only in our narrative but increasingly in the ways we do business and go about our lives.”
Graphics for this article were created by Kael Rose.