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What did we learn about digital technology in 2022 and where to next?

20 December 2022 at 10:01 am
David Spriggs
David Spriggs runs through some of the key takeaways from the year that was and makes some predictions about the year to come. 

David Spriggs | 20 December 2022 at 10:01 am


What did we learn about digital technology in 2022 and where to next?
20 December 2022 at 10:01 am

David Spriggs runs through some of the key takeaways from the year that was and makes some predictions about the year to come. 

2022 was a challenging year for Australians and particularly for people facing hardship and disadvantage in our community. 

At the start of the year, we were hopeful of a gradual emergence from COVID-19, some relief from cost of living pressures and increased support for the community sector. 

We ended up with a continuation of COVID-19 and increased pressure on our hospital system, a war in Ukraine, heightened global tensions, a change in Federal Government, record inflation, record fuel prices and increases in costs of regular household goods and services.  

The not-for-profit sector has invested more in technology in this environment in response to the rapidly changing needs of our communities, the need to transform service delivery and to support new ways of working – but what have we learnt and what are the opportunities and challenges for the year ahead?

Service demand for people experiencing hardship is rising rapidly

At Infoxchange we have seen record demand through Ask Izzy from people in need, with usage rising by almost 50 per cent in the past year as more people than ever are seeking food relief, financial aid, housing support, mental health and family violence support services. 

Our data is supported by the recent ACOSS report, Helping people in need during a cost-of-living crisis,  which found soaring demand this Christmas due to the cost-of-living crisis, continuous disasters and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. The report highlights a key finding that just 3 per cent of the 1,470 organisations surveyed could keep up with demand for their services.  

Whilst it is pleasing to see that Ask Izzy is being widely used as intended to support people and communities facing hardship connect with support services, it is equally concerning to see such a pronounced surge in demand. As a sector, we need to be making better use of the demand data to inform service planning and to advocate for additional support.

Increased investment in technology solutions to improve service delivery

The not-for-profit sector is facing record demand for service provision. This is reflected in the fact that some 66 per cent of organisations reported increased service demand in 2022 including 85 per cent of those services delivering vital financial, legal and emergency relief support; and 80 per cent providing domestic and family violence services. 

This has placed massive pressure on organisations to respond in the absence of any additional funding, with 54 per cent of organisations reporting their services are being affected by staff burnout. 

In response, the sector has been investing more in technology solutions to improve service delivery and enable new ways of working with our annual digital technology in the not-for-profit sector report showing that Australian not-for-profits spent 30 per cent more on digital technology in 2022 as compared to 2021. 

It is pleasing to see more not-for-profits increase their investment in technology, enabling them to better support their communities. 

The challenge now is for organisations to make the most of these investments, with only 56% of organisations reporting that staff are confident in using technology and the information systems they have implemented.

Digital inclusion remains a significant challenge for Australia

The Australian Digital Inclusion Index shows that 11 per cent of Australians remain highly digitally excluded. 

Digital exclusion remains a significant and growing challenge in Australia, particularly for disadvantaged communities as it compromises their ability to participate economically and socially in our increasingly technology-centric society.

Despite these challenges, it is pleasing to see the Albanese Government’s first budget including key measures to increase digital inclusion including further investment in the roll out of the NBN Co network to rural and remote regions, connecting family homes with school aged children as well as $2.5 million to establish a First Nations Digital Advisory Group for consultation on the design and delivery of digital inclusion initiatives.

2023 presents an opportunity to further improve the resilience and capability of our sector

It has never been more important to build a digitally capable, highly skilled and resilient sector that can serve the community that needs our help now more than ever. 

Our recently released digital technology in the not-for-profit sector report indicates that the top three priorities for the sector in the year ahead are improving digital marketing, improving the digital skills and capabilities of staff, and improving data and information security. 

This is against a backdrop of significant challenges including funding, access to affordable and skilled technical resources and staff capacity.

Given the increasing number of cybersecurity breaches occurring, it is concerning that less than half of not-for-profit organisations surveyed have an information security policy in place (49 per cent) or a data breach response plan (45 per cent). 

Further, only 47 per cent of organisations offered cyber-security awareness training to staff. 

The lack of focus on staff training in information security is echoed by the recent PwC Australia Not-for-profit CEO Survey 2022, which found that training and privacy compliance continued to rank low in the key skills identified by not-for-profit leaders that employees require to prepare for the impact of technology on their roles.

Our Digital Transformation Hub is available to help organisations build their digital capability and address key priority areas including information security.  The hub is free to access and provides a range of resources as well as an ‘expert bar’ to assist organisations on their digital transformation journey.

We all have a role to play in ensuring we are able to rise up and deliver on the challenges facing our sector and working together I know we’ll be able to do so in 2023.

David Spriggs  |  @ProBonoNews

David Spriggs is CEO of Infoxchange. He is passionate about creating a more digitally inclusive society and the role technology can play in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the not-for-profit sector. David is also chair of the Australian Digital Inclusion Alliance and a board member of Specialisterne Australia.


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