The Australian Information Industry Association said on Tuesday that a national study had found that Australians had almost universal (99%) interest in seeing governments use the latest technology for service delivery.
But they rated the governments lowest when it came to the ability to do so, compared to other industries.
The study was conducted online by Galaxy Research between 14 and 18 February using a nationally representative sample of 1004 Australians aged 18 or older. Data was weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.
Similar results were obtained when the study participants were asked whether governments had the ability to use technology well to deliver services. Only 19% agreed the federal government was up to the mark, while state (15%) was lower down the scale.
By comparison, companies rated much better: banks and financial institutions (64%); online shopping sites (61%); travel information and booking sites (48%); telecommunications providers (39%); entertainment sites (39%); gas and electricity utilities (28%); and health services (25%).
Commenting on the results, AIIA chief executive Rob Fitzpatrick said: "Australian consumers have always been credited as early adopters of new technology, which is consistent with our collective desire to see government using the latest technology.
"Many expect to have the same experience engaging with government bodies as they would with their bank or an online shopping site. As technology advances, customer expectations keep changing, and it's important that government keep pace.
"However, it's not just about service. The economic benefits from having a digital economy are well known, and there is clear opportunity for government to take the lead and speed up Australia's digital transformation."
About three-quarters of the study participants said the main benefit from government using the latest technology was to improve the quality and accuracy of services.
"What this result says to me is that even though there have been some misfires recently when it comes to execution, such as the census outages and the Centrelink errors, Australians want the government to progress and improve its use of technology rather than regress back to the 'old' way of doing things,” Fitzpatrick said.
Sixty-four per cent of the participants said a combination of technology and customer-facing personnel would deliver the best outcome when it came to government services.
But the percentages differed, based on respondents' ages. Nineteen per cent of Gen Y and 13% of Gen X favoured full automation, while only 6% of baby boomers and 4% of traditionalists (those aged above 65) agreed.
On the other hand, 26% percent of traditionalists wanted automation removed in toto and services provided in customer-facing service centres.
The full results of the study will be discussed at the AIIA's 2017 Navigating Digital Government Summit to be held in Canberra on 5 April.
The conference speakers include:
- Professor Genevieve Bell, College of Engineering and Computer Science at the Australian National University (ANU);
- The new chief executive officer of the Digital Transformation Agency (who has not yet been announced);
- Ed Husic, Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy;
- Gary Sterrenberg, chief information officer, Department of Human Services;
- Peter Alexander, first assistant secretary projects, procurement and assurance, Digital Transformation Agency;
- Louise Glanville, deputy chief executive for governance and stakeholder relations, National Disability Insurance Agency;
- Dan Bognar, senior vice-president, APAC solutions engineering, cloud sales, industries and innovation, Salesforce; and,
- Adi Kavaler, global vice president, products & strategy application delivery management, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Angus Taylor, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, will deliver the closing keynote.