NSW govt in huge digital collaboration project

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NSW govt in huge digital collaboration project

Pilots Workplace by Facebook, but uncommitted to tech.

The NSW government is planning to roll out a digital collaboration platform to up to 400,000 employees, with Workplace by Facebook emerging as an early contender.

The state government is in the process of “building the preliminary business case” for what it is calling a “cross-sector digital collaboration layer” across its operations.

The platform is intended to cover all departments “and potentially all government agencies”.

The Department of Finance, Services and Innovation (DFSI) – which is overseeing the digital collaboration project – has poached two former NBN Co employees that worked on the network builder’s recent workplace transformation project, which included a deployment of Workplace by Facebook.

Johan Nades, who was senior project manager of NBN Co’s workplace transformation, was appointed “principal project lead, digital collaboration” at DFSI at the end of last year, LinkedIn records show.

More recently, Trent Carslake – who worked on the deployment of Workplace by Facebook at NBN Co in the back half of last year – joined the NSW government effort.

The hires – and the project scope descriptions revealed so far – indicate Workplace by Facebook is being sized up for use across NSW government.

A series of recruitment advertisements in recent weeks say the digital collaboration platform will “enable all NSW government [departments] to connect and communicate seamlessly via internal and external groups, chat, receive news feeds and broadcast live video to colleagues”.

A DFSI spokesperson confirmed to iTnews that a "limited technical pilot of Workplace by Facebook is being conducted within NSW government agencies".

However, the spokesperson said there has been "no decision on any specific technology platform" made yet.

"DFSI has been working to identify potential whole-of-government collaboration opportunities that enable all NSW government employees to collaborate and communicate with one another to ensure better outcomes across departments, agencies and for taxpayers," the spokesperson said.

"[We are] working with NSW government clusters to better understand whole of government requirements."

The spokesperson said there was no proposed timeline for the completion of the digital collaboration project. 

Workplace transformation

NBN Co is the first Australian corporate to sign up to use the Facebook tool. Its deployment covers up to 6000 staff.

Facebook opened Workplace to all companies last year after a year of closed trials.

The tool was deployed at NBN Co under a broad workplace transformation drive, undertaken after it emerged that 63 percent of the network builder’s workforce was “not satisfied with the tools and resources provided by NBN to make them productive”.

NBN Co said in a presentation last year that “processes, collaboration, communication and resourcing” were the biggest underlying issues, and it had come up with a “connected workplace” concept in an attempt to remedy them.

The NSW government has, in recent years, developed cloud-based messaging, collaboration and unified communications standards under its digital government strategy. It is unclear how this work might feed into the digital collaboration project presently underway.

The NSW government currently employs 394,194 people.

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