Exploring the unique challenges of information integration with Claire Forsyth

4 November 2022 Purva Deshpande Author avatar

The Public Sector AI & Data Federal Showcase is taking place on the 6th of December 2022 at Hotel Realm, Canberra.

Ahead of the event, we were grateful to have had the opportunity to interview Claire Forsyth, General Manager, Business Outreach and Engagement Branch from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources in an insightful conversation. The conversation revolves around the Department's approach to progressing data and AI capabilities and exploring the intricacies of integrating insights – achieving a whole-of-agency approach to information management.

Firstly, could you share with us your data and information management vision? What is the key outcome you’re working toward?  

To make data and technology easy for non-experts! I’m definitely not a technical expert in this field but data is so powerful and can be used in so many ways and I want everyone to be able to see that we can all play a part and be involved.

What results have you realised from the rollout of your initiative?  

We are starting to see some amazing results from our early work using natural language processing and automation. Our department creates huge amounts of free text data, and this has lots of value and potential to inform policy decisions on topics like COVID-19, natural disasters, business challenges, opportunities, etc.  Using AI, we can now explore some of our large datasets that we haven’t had the people power to analyse previously. It’s also freed up our people from some of the more boring and repetitive tasks to focus on higher-value work.

What has been the most successful aspect of your approach and what have you noticed to have the most impact in terms of strategy execution? 

Integrating our data experts in with the business area has been a huge win for us. It has meant that they can sit with people across the division and both work together to achieve a really positive outcome. It also means we don’t need to fight for centralised resources and allows our technical experts to have autonomy and flexibility when they are building new products and digital tools.

What has been the biggest hurdle you’ve come up against and how have you moved through it? 

There is an inclination in the public service to wrap innovative projects in the process which tends to hinder the ability to create and trial different technologies and means we don’t innovate well in the end. There’s a balance between ensuring some oversight and governance and just letting people do their thing so we can achieve the best possible outcome.  

What’s the plan or strategy for progressing your information management maturity over the next 6-12 months?  

We are looking to roll our technology out across several other branches in our department to demonstrate the value of AI and how to use both qualitative and quantitative insights to tell a story.

Join Claire and other federal data, and technology experts, who are discovering the new era of data and AI potential. 

We look forward to meeting you in person.

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