When did the public sector get so cool?

The reason we have a former Prime Minister on our board...

Author: Jeremy Nees (Chief Product & Technology Officer) - The Instillery

Yesterday we announced that Hon. Bill English has joined our Board of Directors. While there are many good reasons for this relating to his capability, relationships, wisdom and experience, there is one reason that stands above all others.

We are serious about working with the public sector.

Prior to joining The Instillery, I had worked at a crown owned company with the amazing opportunity of ensuring equitable access to digital services in the education sector. A nice change from contributing to a company's value on the ASX. To do work that matters at The Instillery is important to me.

Three years ago, and just after I had joined The Instillery, we were awarded our first public sector contract through an RFP. We were surprised, not because we didn’t have the capability to deliver or ability to execute, but because we've never had a particular focus on the public sector, and quite frankly, had felt we may not be best positioned to navigate the sector effectively and be successful.

Fast forward to today, and our largest segment by growth is… yep… the public sector. This grabbed our attention, when we dug deeper into why this is, aside from cloud expertise, we found that one of the reasons is that Aotearoa’s Public Sector is asking for a provider that can provide a modern, transparent and more flexible partner engagement model than what they had previously been offered. Our response has been to invest further in this segment and make it a focus. This decision is not just about revenues for us, it is about potential and commitment to elevating Aotearoa’s future.

That potential is strategically important to us. Not tactical. Not transactional. 

We see this potential stemming from three key areas. 

Firstly purpose. Doing meaningful, impactful and purposeful work is extremely important to people - somewhat obviously given the amount of time we spend at work. We have really enjoyed to date working on projects where we may contribute a small part to Pest-Free NZ 2050, planning for Smart Auckland growth, or how data can be used to better support our most vulnerable and connect investment directly to social outcomes. Working with agencies teams on this has been immensely rewarding for those involved. Collaborating on those projects is some of the most engaging and purposeful work you could be involved in. 

Then there is change. Change is occurring at an ever-increasing rate around us. In 2013 cabinet directed agencies to decide on the adoption of public cloud, then in 2016 approved a mandate to accelerate the adoption of public cloud. Furthermore, the All of Government IaaS panel contract expires in 2021 (after 10 years), and the TaaS panel initial term of 5 years concludes in 2020. Both these panels cover technologies that have seen the highest rate of change in the industry. An appetite for change, coupled with a sector that is “open for business” can spark an amazing amount of innovation. Without sounding overly idealistic, The Instillery, my colleagues, and me personally, all want to be a part of that innovation - because we care, because we stand by the integrity and value our company offers.

Finally, we believe there is a great opportunity to optimise for joint success. Typically long term contracts and outsourcing agreements optimize for certainty and maximising revenue for the supplier. Especially towards the end of these arrangements, when products and services are in their sunset phase, and profitability is at its highest. While long term contracts arguably create efficiency and lower cost, with the technology industry at a high rate of change, they don’t create an optimal balance between certainty and flexibility. Revenue protection can come in the guise of inertia, company spin-out and other old tricks. Instead, we need to design our business to allow for positive tension and sharing of risk and reward, commit to shared outcomes while designing for flexibility. 

Easier said than done, but that is an opportunity for The Instillery to provide to the NZ market.

Of course that all sounds rather altruistic - and it is. 

The Instillery’s stated mission is to “Help kiwi businesses dominate at home and on the global stage” - and that includes the public sector! Revenue and profits are simply byproducts of other things. They are only ever an output, a form of measure, but ultimately a consequence of other actions. Therefore our focus needs to be on more than that. 

If we action purpose, change, and optimisation, we think we’ll do alright, but more importantly, we have a business that people want to work for and work with.

So, Kia Ora Hon. Bill English. Great to have you onboard.