Hall & Wilcox Tech Week: Trust in a digital world – empowering people to have control of data

By Melinda Woledge

As people engage with governments and third parties in a digital world, trust is essential. The NSW Government’s Digital ID will provide robust privacy and security protection and allow individuals to feel empowered and have control of their data.

These were the key themes during NSW Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello’s keynote speech at the opening event of Hall & Wilcox Tech Week. His speech was followed by an insightful panel discussion, exploring government service delivery, the importance of digital leadership and digital literacy, the Consumer Data Right, how data can be used to deliver a great customer experience, and how to build an economy in which data drives innovation.

Empowering the individual: trust is key

‘There are a range of digital products that we are rolling out [in NSW],’ Mr Dominello said.

‘Whether it’s the digital birth certificate, digital driver’s licence, a first aid certificate that will go on your phone … there’s a whole range of products that I can talk to. But all of these products are going to come to zero unless you build trust.

‘Digital products require trust at a level that we have never seen before.’

Mr Dominello said trust comes in three forms: who, what and why. Who you are (digital identity, which protects an individual’s fundamental credentials); what (what are you authorised to do – show your credentials, eg in an education wallet that the NSW Government is about to roll out); and why (why are you trustworthy; why should I trust these services; it shows respect for data, privacy and security).

What does this mean for emerging technology?

‘If I had to put a stake in the ground for the decade ahead, and where we will hopefully be by the end of decade, it’s about empowering the individual … with data and control over their data.’

Mr Dominello said data portability would allow individuals to share on their terms their secure, private information. ‘That empowers trust because we’re empowering the individual’.

Panellist Paul Franklin, Executive General Manager at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and in charge of the Consumer Data Right (CDR), agreed that data is an asset that should be at the control of the consumer.

‘Consent is absolutely critical to making sure that consumers trust [a product]. Consent is the key to getting privacy and empowerment right for the consumers.’

Using data to create a great customer experience

Mr Dominello also spoke about putting customers at the centre of the data universe. He floated the idea of customers being able to rate government service delivery.

‘Wouldn’t it be good if you kept us [the government] to account through every time we deliver a service?’

Jenny Young, EY Oceania Consumer Markets, Managing Partner, EY, was asked how organisations can use data to deliver great customer experiences for government.

‘With consumer data rights and digital identity, there should be a lot of realistic optimism around organisations and how they can provide better service,’ she said.

‘We need more collaboration between public and private sector, we need more collaboration between agencies and between corporates. With CDR my encouragement is that people think beyond the compliance lens and think about what’s possible in terms of the growth opportunities to deliver great service and what innovation can be driven around those data sources. Think about some unique partnerships to really fully leverage that data.’

Mr Franklin said there were prospective areas of connection between the CDR and government initiatives. The CDR already has a great deal of information that can be shared securely; for example, bank account details, provided the customer gave permission.

‘Ultimately it’s about the digital economy. Are we growing an economy that serves Australians well, that delivers not only benefits for individual consumers but moves forward?’

Tom McMahon, Tech Council of Australia deputy CEO, said competence in digital was important; that is, it’s easier to build trust when digital offerings work properly.

‘One really interesting thing that comes through in the research [that we’ve conducted with everyday Australians] is that Australians are sceptical about government’s ability to implement digital policy. That’s not because of a broad level of distrust in government but because they themselves don’t have a strong understanding of technology and they assume that politicians are like them,’ he said.

‘So we make sure that we are engaging with government on the how as well as the what and the why … that will allow us to make sure that when we bring in new regimes, such as the CDR, that they are done in a way that’s actually going to work.

The economy of the future: getting the most out of data

Asked what role data and innovation can play in the economy of the future, Natasha Doherty, Managing Director of Accenture Australia, said it was time to make changes to adapt to the challenges ahead.

‘Now would be a really good time for us as organisations and as government to look at how we support changing the way we do things, being more productive, using innovation, and that means using technology and data to drive that. It does mean we need to review what we’ve done in the past, as it may not suit the future we are looking into.’

Jenny Young said the CDR offered a great opportunity to optimise products and services for customers.

‘That shouldn’t be underestimated. You can see what customers value. When you can see what their actual usage is, you can much better personalise that outcome,’ she said.

‘When you put on top of that AI [artificial intelligence] and the ability to absorb real insights then the service opportunities are just fantastic. That’s why I’m calling for that optimism around what you can do, and don’t just view it as a compliance exercise.’

Data contributing to societal outcomes

Ms Doherty said personalised data could help customers customise services, such as NDIS packages.

‘Old industries have been very much based on bricks and mortar and human capital in the way they deliver services. So the CDR is transforming the way that services are accessed and also delivered to some of our most disadvantaged and vulnerable people within society,’ she said.

‘[It will interesting to see] how that might change and transform the way we think about delivering social services across Australia … The consumer becomes the centre of owning those data points of their journey and is able to control or navigate their own access across the social services sector. That then feeds back into government to say what’s working.’

Mr Franklin cited the example of the debt reduction charity Way Forward, where a consumer in financial trouble can get help to restructure debt, as a way to use data to do good. The charity can use the CDR to get access to consumer financial information to put together a package faster to help that consumer. It could also potentially reduce the number of customers who get into financial trouble by borrowing too much.

‘You can do things better with better data. But you can also do better things. The challenge for data recipients and the private sector economy is what are all the things you could do to give a better experience for the customer.’

Ms Doherty said government plays a vital role in enabling the application of data, supporting new ways of doing things, and developing new products and companies. She said it was now time for the private sector to step up.

‘I think we need to step up as business into that. Government has been playing a pretty decent role in this space to support innovation and change the way they are working in terms of access to data. It’s time for business to step into this and embrace some of the things that government is trying to do, like talking about the positive narrative, looking for new investments that we can make as big organisations, small organisations and startups, and step into this new way of working.’


John Gray

Partner, Technology & Digital Economy Co-Lead and NSW Government Co-Lead

Ben Hamilton

Partner & Technology and Digital Economy Co-Lead

James Deady

Partner & Technology and Digital Economy Co-Lead

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