Microsoft opened its newest Technology Centre in Sydney today, offering the company’s local customers and partners a hub to develop digital technology and strategies.
During the launch the technology giant also announced a new partnership with the NSW Government’s Department of Finance, Services and Innovation. The government signed a memorandum of understanding with Microsoft to help develop digital and cybersecurity capabilities, including through the use of the new facility.
The new Microsoft Technology Centre (MTC), one of 40 around the world, is designed to offer business and government decision makers a place to collaborate on digital initiatives. The dedicated wing of Microsoft’s Sydney CBD office includes several collaboration rooms, product testing and showcase areas, and even a room to build physical prototypes.
It currently has seven dedicated staff members including a director, five technical architects and a technology manager. On a media tour of the facility Microsoft executives explained that enterprises engaging with the MTC will follow a specific process encompassing planning, preparing and executing.
NSW Government partnership
For the state government the new Microsoft partnership will focus on platforms, cybersecurity, AI ethics and data use. Greg Wells, the NSW Government CIO and CDO, said developing that sort of capability and generating user outcomes requires a collaborative approach.
“If we are really going to achieve our goal of transforming citizens’ experience with government we to need to work across agencies,” Wells said at the launch.
“We need to work across NGOs, research organisations but also industry.”
Currently digital skills aren’t always available in the public sector, Wells said, and training and awareness remains a priority.
“Unless we build up our capability and do a lot more in that space, that’s going to be the biggest hurdle to actually getting government’s digital ready.”
The Microsoft MOU includes provisions for the training of some NSW government staff to help develop the digital and collaborative skills which currently are “not natural to every public servant at the moment”.
“This memorandum of understanding will allow us to bring Department Heads to the MTC where they can see what more can be achieved with digital services, improved efficiencies and good value solutions. We expect there will be significant positive impact for citizens and businesses as well as operational efficiencies for government.”
Microsoft says its partnerships and initiatives like the MTC in Sydney, its Canberra data centres, and quantum computing facility at Sydney University are helping to ensure the prosperity of Australia’s increasingly digital economy.
“I think it would be fair to say that there are lots of opinions as to how [Australia’s current economic state] has occurred but not much debate about the fact that what has brought us to this point is going to carry forward,” said Microsoft’s Australian MD, Steven Worrall.
“It does’t matter what industry you work in, what role you perform the simple fact is technology permeates every part of the Australian economy.”
Microsoft’s digital infrastructure investments in Australia are providing the “framework and the rails” but more important is the people utilising them, Worrall said.
“It has to be people first and technology second. That’s why the investment here in the Microsoft Technology Centre is so important. Because it will become the meeting place for Microsoft and our clients, NSW government … and many, many others that we work with in Australia to come together to work out how to use technology more efficiently inside their enterprises.”