Satisfying the Contemporary Customer

The Future of Customer Experience in Government Contact Centres

According to the Australian Government’s Digital Transformation Office, more than 1/3 of Australians stated that digital means of communication would be their preferred channel of communication with government agencies.  This number is expected to grow as more customer service operations in both the public and private sector are digitised.

The Digital Transformation Office has reported that 1/3 of surveyed Australians prefer digital contact channels over traditional methods. (Pull Quote)

The smart phone has revolutionised customer contact, providing multiple channels of communication and greater transparency of customer mapping.  As the Australian public becomes reliant on their device for everything from grocery shopping to paying bills, digital communication should become a priority for government customer service delivery.

Many government organisations are in the process of streamlining their digital communication channels, however the public is not completely satisfied with their service levels.

Long wait times and lack of efficient resolution have been some of the main complaints of customers in the public sector.  Government services must innovate and adapt to meet the expectations of online citizens.

Service NSW has consolidated multiple agencies and created multiple channels of service.  This has resulted in increased transparency and more consistent customer satisfaction.

“Prior to the inception of Service NSW in 2013, NSW Government customers had to navigate through more than 100 call centres, 380 different shopfronts, 1,000 websites and 8,000 different customer service phone numbers. Customers can now access more than 850 transactions through the one stop Service NSW shop.” (NSW ICT Strategy, 2018)

Many large government organisations have seen vast improvement in customer satisfaction and service delivery through a consolidation of contact centres.  Centralisation, along with digital infrastructure, provides streamlined service with greater customer insight.  Digital tools such as webchats and virtual assistant provide an engine for customer mapping.  This ensures the customer’s contact history is readily available.  When the contact centre employee has insight into the customer’s previous interactions, they can communicate effectively and resolve the inquiry, more quickly and more completely.

Government organisations are under unique pressure in their contact centre delivery because they do not strive to sell, rather they are solely focused on public satisfaction and efficient operations.    The contact centre is many times the first line of communication between the public and government.  Thus, innovating the contact centre to streamline and prioritise the customer experience remains of high importance in the public sector.

The Government Contact Centre Summit 2018 provides a space for the best in public sector contact centre leadership to collaborate and present innovative case studies about:

  • Streamlining digital strategy for increased efficiency and higher customer satisfaction in your contact centre
  • Fostering a culture of high engagement through out your contact centre to drive positive organisational change
  • The future of innovation in government contact centres

 

Attend the Government Contact Centre Summit 2018 to hear these expert case studies on digital innovation and exemplary customer experience.

How to engage with the disengaged

Public participation and consultation are essential for building trust with government organisations.  We spoke with Jason Downs, Leader for Engagement at the South Australian Department of State Development, to find out how government organisations can effectively engage disengaged communities to drive positive outcomes.  Read more to find out why Jason considers trust and genuine relationships to be a fundamental key to enhancing community engagement.

Konnect Learning: How can government organisations best engage with disengaged communities?

Jason Downs: Primarily there is a need to develop a strong sense and understand as to why communities are disengaged, what is the history, what is the issue, is there a background story driving this lack of engagement, generally there is. Once this is understood the next step is establishing a relationship and building a level of trust and understanding, this is often referred to as pre engaging. Once a relationship is developed then a plan of interaction can often be co designed with the group to ensure interaction, or it may be in some cases the group doesn’t wish to be engaged and this must be respected.

KL: Why do some communities become disengaged in the first place?

JD: Generally there is a breakdown in relationships caused by a lack of trust. In some cases communities find dealing with government agencies a waste of time, complicated and of no value. In some instances communities themselves become fractured and strong personalities can drive agendas which cause others to become disengaged as well.

KL: How do you genuinely reengage communities?

JD: Relationships and trust are central to any interactions. The critical success factor to building these is listening to people and understanding their worldviews, not assuming and not engaging to tell or sell.

KL: How do disengaged communities effect public sector organisations as a whole?

JD: Generally these communities often go under the radar unless there is a specific requirement to engage them or a demand to do so.

KL: Why is it important to engage with disengaged communities?

JD: I think this is a case by case issue, as mentioned some communities don’t wish to be engaged and must be respected. It is still necessary to understand why and having honest conversations and building relationships may over time change this. As a practitioner however the more people who can be engaged on a particular matter that impacts upon them the better the end result can be in terms of progressing. Often the disengaged have the greatest knowledge and solutions to issues

Jason Downs will be chairing Community & Stakeholder Engagement for Government 2018 this July In Canberra.  Attend this summit to learn how to effectively engage disengaged communities and innovate your public sector engagement strategy.   

The time for traditional media is over

The time for traditional media is over

 

Digital communications are far more efficient than traditional media. When delivering your department message, digital mediums can spread the word to large audiences your audience in a fraction of the time. We talked to Lachlan McKenzie, Assistant Director, Strategy and Media to find out how Transport for NSW is driving productivity through their digital communications strategy. Read more to find out why Lachlan thinks that traditional media no longer the communications king.

 

Konnect Learning: How have digital mediums changed the way Government departments communicate in the last 10 years?

 

Lachlan McKenzie: Probably one of the most dramatic shifts centres around how the majority of our communications channels now go directly to customers or stakeholders, bypassing the media almost completely.

In the past we would rely heavily on media releases to pitch the information we wanted to transmit through to various audiences.

Given the declining resource levels across the media industry, and burgeoning competition for journalists’ attention, it makes sense to exploit ways that are more efficient in reaching our audiences and easier to control the messages that are conveyed to them.

 

KL: What has been the biggest road block you’ve encountered while building your digital communication strategy?

 

LM: I’ve come into an organisation where there are a number of legacy platforms or channels that made sense sometime ago, but may not anymore. My approach is “what’s this meant to do, does it still do it and if so how could we do it better?”

In that sense, the road block is the menagerie of systems and status quo assumptions about how digital communications is being done, in comparison to how it should be done.

 

KL: What impact have digital mediums had on reaching external stakeholders?

 

LM: With a number of major infrastructure projects, we manage the disruption communication that goes to every individual and stakeholder that is either identified by us, or signs up for regular tailored communication.

Through websites like MySydneyCBD.nsw.gov.au we’re able to provide tailored information on a regular basis that can tell a business on George Street or a resident in East Sydney what’s coming up in their part of Sydney and how to plan around it if necessary.

 

KL: What road block do you think Government Departments still need to overcome?

 

LM: Traditional media is not king, it’ll tell you it is… but I disagree. More people get news from their Facebook feeds than through any other medium – noting the propensity for mastheads to prioritise breaking news through their social channels.

There will always be press conferences and media releases, but Government shouldn’t be afraid to break more news direct to customers, stakeholders and voters direct through social and make traditional media do some ‘journalism.’

 

Attend the Government Digital Communications Summit to hear how Transport for NSW used their digital communications strategy to reach stakeholders protect their department reputation in the recent industrial action across Sydney Trains.

How to be an authentic and more effective leader

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Authenticity is one of those buzzwords that gets bandied around the place every few years. The trouble is that often people don’t take the time to understand just why authenticity is so valuable. Often people in leadership positions are more concerned with protecting their own lives and selves that they lose the trust and loyalty of their team. We want to help you create earnest and genuine relationships with your team and wider stakeholders in business. When you operate professionally with authenticity, you can increase positive relationships, engender dependability and create an open and trustworthy workspace. Read on for some top tips on becoming a more authentic leader.

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Know thyself

Being self-aware is such an important part of authenticity in and out of leadership. If you don’t understand your own behaviours and motivators, you are highly unlikely to be able to be effective in managing and inspiring others. Harvard Business School published an article that outlines just how vital self-awareness is in becoming a successful and authentic leader. The article has some great tips specifically for those looking to work on this aspect of their development. Combine these exercises with a deep understanding of your emotional intelligence and you are off to a great start.

 

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Lead with the heart

Many people in positions of authority make the mistake of removing or compartmentalising their heart and mind in business. Whilst being in control of your emotions and understanding and honing your emotional intelligence are crucial aspects of business, closing them off completely is highly problematic. You will be far more likely to connect with your team if you show vulnerability and openness. Empathy is an incredibly vital tool in showing your team you understand where they are coming from. In addition to that when you show empathy you genuinely understand the point of view of others, and can consequently communicate more effectively with those people.

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Be yourself

Not only must your know yourself, but you must be yourself too. All too often the notion of self-monitoring is misinterpreted as showing a lack of genuineness. In fact, there is a chain of research that has implied that monitoring oneself is proof that being genuine doesn’t work. What they miss, and what advocates of genuine leadership will tell you, is that monitoring and adjusting your behaviour to suit your professional challenges is not in fact pretending to be someone you are not. It is the opposite. When you understand yourself and your own behaviours, you are more able to successfully offer sincere communication and leadership.

Monitor your behaviour

While we are on the topic, let’s explore how you can maintain your integrity and often enhance it with a little bit of self-monitoring. When done with the purpose of connecting more effectively, self-monitoring can increase positive relationships and trust amongst your team. It can actually assist you in becoming more authentic. The Employer Branding Academy published a useful article outlining the advantages of self-monitoringfor those looking for more details.

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Lead by example

The best way to show your team that you are who you say you are is to show them. Lead by example. Show people the kind of team you want by engaging your team in those behaviours. If you want a genuine and open team, show your team your own vulnerability. When you exemplify the key behaviours you are looking for in a team, you will, in turn inspire that team to take on those behaviours too. Read the Inc. article for 11 Remarkably Effective Ways to Lead by Example.

Never sacrifice your integrity

This is a rule to live by. Maintaining your integrity is an essential key to being an effective and successful leader. Integrity builds confidence, trust and loyalty and encourages your internal and external stakeholders alike to maintain a similar sense. The Lead on Purpose blog is a great resource for leaders looking to improve. They have a particularly interesting article on why integrity is such a key part of successful leadership.

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Keep Learning

Being an authentic leader means being on top of the trends of the market, both in terms of leadership and business. Ensure that you embrace learning and development for both you and your team. Read our blog post for some Top Tips for Designing a Foolproof Learning and Development Program. For some great updates and advice as to how to be a more authentic leader in the long term, register for the Konnect learning Authentic Leadership Forum in March 2017.

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Don’t be a divisive leader – FIVE TOP tips for leading with Emotional Intelligence

Don’t be a divisive leader – FIVE TOP tips for leading with Emotional Intelligence

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There is nothing more harmful and destructive than a divisive and contradictory leader. They build contempt and distrust and control their charges by fear and power games. You may get things done in the short term but ultimately, your team will self-destruct. Don’t be driven by fear or a yearning for power. Lead with the intention to inspire and your workplace will benefit. One of the best ways to ensure you avoid this behaviour is to lead with emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a trait so intrinsically linked to positive relationships and productivity. Research continues to reveal just how imperative it is to have a high EQ if you want to be successful in business and indeed life. There are countless benefits to both your productivityand that of your business as a whole.  The great thing is, you’re not stuck with what you’ve got. EQ and the skills that go with it is a learned trait and with these top tips, you can be well on your way to avoiding the kind of leadership that divides and destroys.

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Educate yourself and your team

This is the basic key to ensuring you don’t become stale as a leader and your team don’t lose momentum. Learning and development is a crucial aspect of growth. Leaders who understand their team enough to engage them in further development are already connecting with their team more than someone who does not. Saxons Group published a great article outlining the Top Ten Benefits of Ongoing Staff Training and Development.

While training your team, you mustn’t forget about yourself. As Leonardo Di Vinci once said, “Learning never exhausts the mind”. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you don’t need to, or perhaps don’t have time. Register for the Konnect Learning Leading with Emotional Intelligence in February 2017, for some fantastic advice and training on building your EQ.

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Never underestimate the value of self-awareness

“Every human has four endowments – self-awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom…The power to choose, to respond, to change.” Dr Steven R Covey

Self-awareness is one of the first steps to understanding yourself, others and how to best engage in a situation. Understanding your own behaviours, gives you a point from which you can gauge a relationship and monitor your responses to best suit a situation. The benefits of self-awareness are plentiful.

The Harvard Business Review has outlined some great practical advice for those wishing to work on their self-awareness.

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Understand and use empathy with your team

Empathy comes very easily to some, but the difficulty comes for those where empathy is not second nature. Learning how to understand where others are coming from, to spend a day in their shoes, can be highly confronting for some. However, the ultimate advantages of honing this skill are better relationships, positive experiences and successful engagement with others.

Some basic tips for using empathy as a leader include:

  • Looking first to see the other person’s point of view
  • Validating the other person’s perspective
  • Listen
  • Ask what the other person would do
  • Be aware of your attitude

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Embrace diversity

“What we have to do…is to find a way to celebrate our diversity and debate our differences without fracturing our communities” Hillary Clinton

This quote is true in both society and business. There is nothing more divisive and counter-productive to leading with emotional intelligence than an inability to embrace diversity. At Konnect Learning, we value diversity in the workplace as a fundamental pillar for both successful and good business. We have written ample articles on the business and emotional value of diversity in the workplace and run a regular Leadership in Diversity Forum.

When you fully understand and create a diverse and accepting workplace, you are giving your employees the freedom to thrive, thereby giving your business the best chance to thrive. Marjorie Derven wrote a fantastic article on the essential link between diversity and EQ.

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Knowing how to effectively manage and resolve conflict

Effective conflict resolution and EQ go hand in hand. It is difficult to have one without the other, so understanding practical ways to manage conflict can assist you in honing your emotional intelligence and vice versa. Emotional Intelligence Workshops have published some helpful practical advice on how to use your EQ skills to manage conflict with greater ease.

Identifying clear and easy to embrace strategies ahead of conflict is a huge advantage. Create a step by step guide for coping with conflict in your workplace by reading these great Workplace Conflict Resolution Tips and Strategies by Mindful Mediation.

In Dr Reldon S Nadler’s informative work, Leading with Emotional Intelligence, he points out that all the skills of EQ, fall under four umbrellas, some of which we have touched on above.

  • Self-awareness
  • Social awareness
  • Self-Management
  • Relationship Management

If you can focus your energy on understanding these areas, and managing them in yourself, you will increase your EQ.

Be a leader who inspires trust and loyalty, engagement and diversity. Be the kind of leader you want to see lead our governments. Not only is it just the right thing to do, but your business will thrive as a consequence.

Protect yourself and your team with a comprehensive social media policy

The ever evolving nature of social media is overwhelming at the best of times. Trying to keep up to date with the latest trends both on a personal and business level can leave many feeling totally lost. Things change, platforms adapt and the way we access and share information transforms with every new addition to the social media train. The line between where we market and where we socialise is very murky and as a consequence what and where we share information can be tricky. Social media is wildly crucial to a successful communications and marketing plan because it is estimated that by 2020 there’ll be somewhere in the vicinity of 2.95 billion users across various platforms.So your organisation is actively using social media. Your employees are doing the same. You have no control over how the rest of the internet will react to them. How do you protect yourself and your team? A comprehensive and adaptable social media policy.

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Why do I need a policy?

The fact is you are not going to be able to stop people using social media. You can, however, give them the right tools to manage it in a way that won’t embarrass you or them. The advantages of creating a policy are evidently outlined in this article on Entrepreneur Online, but they include the following points:

  • Protect your company’s reputation
  • Minimise confusion about murky legal issues
  • Raise awareness for your brand

Creating an effective policy

So you’ve made the sensible decision to create a social media policy, but where do you start? We have compiled some of the key areas to consider when you design your policy.

MANAGING HOW EMPLOYEES TALK ABOUT THE COMPANY AND EACH OTHER

The fact is people are going to get frustrated at times. Sometimes, that frustration comes from work. Your policy needs to ensure that your team understand what you expect from them and the way they talk about the company and each other online. LinkedIn has a great article on what to do when you come across an employee who has aired their grievances in this public way.

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APPRECIATE AND RECOGNISE DEFAMATION

Someone can be accused of defamation if they make a claim in front of more than two people. So when a comment is made on the internet, it is always at risk of being accused of being defamatory. If you hurt someone’s reputation in public, there can be some pretty hefty consequences. Journalists study entire units on defamation and what not to say. Ensure your team are at least familiar with the concept and the ramifications for both your company and them individually.

Know and minimise the risks of creating inaccurate information

REMIND YOUR EMPLOYEES THE WORLD SEES WHAT THEY POST

While you’d be ill-advised to go snooping around your employee’s private accounts, the very nature of social media is that it is fundamentally public. Anyone can see almost anything you post, and employees need to be aware. Many people don’t understand the consequences of their actions. If you ensure that your policy explicitly addresses this, you are protecting both your company and your employees.

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Protect confidential and proprietary information

Most of you are very familiar with confidentiality clauses and agreements. Privacy is a huge part of business and needs to be respected. So, what happens when everything becomes free for all in the guise of social networking? Can social media and confidentiality actually co-exist in reality?

We would like to think so. The best way to ensure they can work in harmony is to ensure your team understand their restrictions.

UNDERSTAND AND CLARIFY COPYRIGHT AND FAIR USE

Copyright is a very contentious aspect of social media and digital communications in general. Often people post and share without thinking or realising that they are in fact appropriating someone else’s property. As a company, you could be liable for any copyright breaches that occur on behalf of your brand or employees. It is absolutely vital that your team, particularly members of your team with access to the company social media accounts, understand the gravity of this. Your policy and training should ensure your employees maintain a basic understanding of copyright online.

LEVERAGE SOCIAL MEDIA TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

Don’t be afraid of social media. Don’t blanket ban it. Don’t underestimate its value to you as a marketing tool, and also a bonding tool for your team. Social media, when used respectfully, can be a wonderful instrument in raising morale, brand awareness and overall productivity. Welcome the responsible use of social media and you’ll find it actually adds to your business.

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Most importantly, when in doubt, ask for help

The internet has woven a delightfully colourful, yet scarily vulnerable web of communication. While it encourages openness and sharing, it also arms its users in a way that face to face interaction does not. It is crucial that organisations are across the risks, and many advantages of social media. The key is a great policy and a well-educated team.

When you are unsure, don’t fret. Educate yourself and your team. Register for courses such as the Konnect Learning Employment Law conference in 2017

Tips for becoming a successful and effective Chief Risk Officer

The role of the Chief Risk Officer (CRO) is as challenging as it is varied. Depending on your industry, the role of the CRO can change dramatically, as the risks and potential risks change. What is constant is the need for a CRO to be able to manage, assess and mitigate risks to business in an ongoing and effective way. As businesses grow and technology advances, risks adapt and change. No matter the industry, you can rest assured the risks will grow and having an effective CRO is absolutely crucial.  There are a number of key attributes required to becoming a success. With these tips, you will be well on your way to becoming the most effective CRO you can be.

 

Keep up to date

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As we’ve mentioned above, one of the biggest challenges of risk assessment is the very nature of risk. As one risk is mitigated, so appears another. As technology advances, giving us extraordinary tools for running business, so too do the risks of said technology. As your business grows, you become more exposed. The biggest mistake you can make with your business is becoming complacent. Your CRO must be vigilant and up to date at all times.

This requires acute knowledge of your industry and risks. It also requires an advanced understanding of the general business risks and management techniques facing your business today. A great starting point is networking with other CROs at events such as the Konnect Learning inaugural Chief Risk Officer Summit in March 2017.

Understand your industry and the market

Your industry will face a plethora of customised risk, specific to the kind of service you provide. Knowing your industry is absolutely vital in being able to successfully understand the breadth of risk facing your business. Industry training and networking is the key. Spend time with other business operators in your industry and get a feel for the individualised challenges you face. If you are looking for industry customised events to be involved in, get in touch with training organisations such as Konnect Learning, to investigate the best available networking opportunities for you.

 

Ensure your business acumen aligns with the needs of the business

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This is something all CROs must learn and understand. A successful CRO needs to understand the processes and aims of the business as well as the potential risks. A fine balance needs to be struck at every corner, as risk needs to be mitigated and managed while minimising the disruption of the business.

 

Ensuring that your CRO has strong and effective business acumen can be key in managing that tightrope-esque balancing act. All Things Admin is a fantastic resource for business administrators and they have a fantastic article for those looking to develop their business acumen.

 

Develop your communication skills

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You may understand your industry and the wider industry of risk assessment, but if you do not contain the communication skills, your knowledge will be for nought. Every business professional should consistently work on and build their communication skills. Invest in communication across your business and you are investing in the prosperity of your business. Understand emotional intelligence and develop your ability to communicate.

Hone your ability to lead and influence

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Affecting change can be tough when you are faced with a business full of naysayers. The fact is managing many risks will often get in the way of business and understanding how to balance risk and business will only get you so far. Sometimes the CRO will be responsible for making the hard choices, the choices that may initially look like a financial burden. The CRO may be responsible for creating walls instead of tearing them down. A CRO needs to have the ability to make change with the enthusiastic backing of the wider business. This requires leadership. Be confident in your ability to lead and influence others, and if you are not confident, learn.

Whatever the risk, ensure you protect yourself with a successful and effective Chief Risk Officer.

10 Top Tips for fostering a positive company culture

Research is increasingly revealing some scary statistics when it comes to employee satisfaction. Employees aren’t engaged, trust in our leaders is at an all-time low, and employees are on the constant lookout for something new, exciting and more appealing. The fact is the happier your employees, the more productive, loyal and committed they will become.

You cannot underestimate the importance of a positive company culture. Get that right, and so much of your business will fall into place. Follow these top tips to create a more effective culture in your workplace.

Communication is key

We are all starting to realise the value in realising effective communication in the workplace. A tight communication strategy and an open-door policy can make strides in changing the way your employees see both the leadership team and the company. If you have five minutes, we highly recommend taking a moment to view these hilarious videos about communication in the workplace.

Be the right kind of leader

There are some pretty uninspiring examples of rubbish leadership out there – quick to put people down and crush morale. Striving for power and superficial congratulation is the quickest route to becoming a crappy leader. Be an authentic, genuine, effective and trustworthy leader, and your team will follow you to the ends of the world and back.

Know your vision and communicate your goals

When your team understands your wider vision, they are more likely to be invested in it. Create achievable goalposts for all employees and create a direct link back to your wider company vision. This way your team is always connected to your higher overall goal.

Do everything in your power to engage your team

Employee engagement is one of the most important tools in maintaining satisfaction, loyalty and productivity. Don’t be another statistic. Don’t make the same mistakes as so many companies. Your culture is entirely reliant on whether or not your team is engaged with it. Read Dale Carnegie’s 50 Employee Engagement Ideas and Tips for some hands-on advice.

Whatever decisions you make – be transparent with your team

We often talk about the value of transparency in our blog posts, because you really cannot underestimate how valuable it can be. When someone feels trusted they are more likely to trust in return. Your team will be more powerful, more loyal and more engaged when you involve them in the process.

Celebrate when things go well

We are so often quick to criticise when things don’t go to plan – looking for a face to blame in a bid to ensure it doesn’t happen again. What about the wins? Your team has achieved their goals and instead of celebrating, it’s business as usual. Celebrating those wins with your team is crucial to a positive culture and there are numerous ongoing advantages.

Foster health and wellbeing

Employee health and wellbeing are not just buzzwords to repeat in your annual report. If you want to keep a solid, satisfied, productive workforce, you absolutely must actively support their mental and physical health. Following these simple tips, are just some of the ways you can improve your workplace health and wellbeing.

Promote teamwork and camaraderie

As we’ve mentioned your company culture is entirely dependent on the investment of your team. Without them, it’s lip-service for the board. Your team needs to feel that they are part of something – they need to feel like a team. Work on building a feeling of camaraderie amongst your employees by implementing changes such as the recommendations in this Small Business article.

Inject a little bit of humour

We all love to laugh, it makes us happy and builds positivity. In the workplace, there are real and tangible advantages of injecting a little bit of humour into your workplace. Don’t be afraid to throw a little fun into your work. If it is consistent with your wider goals, it’ll only serve to improve your company culture overall. Watch this hysterical Twitter video on workplace culture for a little inspiration.

Support training and development

Nothing shows you’re invested in your team more than when you actively invest in their development. The wise words of Richard Branson are timeless and so true. Create an effective learning and development program, and you’ll reap the rewards.

Culture is a fickle thing. If you get it wrong, you can forever scar your reputation and business overall. Register for the Konnect Learning Fostering Company Culture Masterclass and you are on the path to business success.

Embracing infrastructure – getting around the roadblocks

The next 10-20 years will see extraordinary change in Sydney. Not only is it expected that the population will grow by nearly a million in a decade, but technology and priorities for communities will change with it. How then can we hope to stay ahead of the curve and create, or evolve a city’s infrastructure