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Disability Employment Sector Must Harness Platform Innovation


8 September 2017 at 4:00 pm
Wendy Williams
A self-proclaimed “technology enthusiast” from Microsoft Australia has been offering the disability employment sector advice on how to harness platform innovation in an era of disruptive change, as the sector sits on the brink of a major change in how it operates.


Wendy Williams | 8 September 2017 at 4:00 pm


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Disability Employment Sector Must Harness Platform Innovation
8 September 2017 at 4:00 pm

A self-proclaimed “technology enthusiast” from Microsoft Australia has been offering the disability employment sector advice on how to harness platform innovation in an era of disruptive change, as the sector sits on the brink of a major change in how it operates.

Microsoft Australia senior director Sarah Vaughan addressed around 350 delegates at the Disability Employment Australia annual conference in Brisbane on Thursday.

With the DES program set to undergo significant reform under the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Vaughan provided delegates with a sense of the “big picture” as it related to technological and digital innovation in an era of disruptive change.

She told Pro Bono News it was time for the sector to think differently about the way it had always done things.

“The point around harnessing platform innovation is that the technology exists today to reimagine how we serve how our employees, how we can serve our customers, how we serve the citizens around the world,” Vaughan said.

“So with things like machine learning, artificial intelligence and human computer interaction, there are opportunities to think differently about the ways we’ve always done things and the time is right now.

“On the era of disruptive change, my point was there has always been change, the difference now is how the pace of change is accelerating.”

For those who were unsure where to start with harnessing new technology, Vaughan recommended looking to other industries.

“I think that one of the best approaches is to look at industries outside of your own who may not be solving exactly the same or addressing the same change but who can bring different perspectives and new eyes on the way things have been done,” she said.

“That industry, cross sector collaboration, is one of the most effective ways to challenge the status quo and see how technology is being used in other places and bring that into the sector.”

She said technology was changing the entire employment landscape.

“I think one of the big shifts is how we work. So there is a shift to microwork or breaking down a traditional task and even the nine to five full time work is being challenged,” she said.

“Part of it has been challenged by the availability and jobs in certain sectors but it is also about choice. You have got platforms like Upwork or Freelancer and a whole myriad of them that are providing ways for organisations to get access to talent and skills in a short-term of long-term contract… and there are people who are choosing to work that way and love the freedom that it gives them to work when they want to work, to value their particular skillset and also to find employment with not just one employer, but with multiple employers over a year or two.

“So it is that breakdown, instead of thinking about it as this is my job and this is what I do, it is more there are a whole load of skills I have at work, how can I offer those skills and those services and expertise to a myriad of different projects and organisations. And that’s something that I think is really interesting, not just in this sector but in many.”


Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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