Australia’s intellectual property agency goes all in on user design, DevOps and AI

IP Australia is using Pega as its case management system, but has also undergone a transformation in the way it works, to meet customer expectations.

Rob Bollard, CIO at IP Australia, the government’s intellectual property department, is proud to say that he heads up Australia’s first fully digital service delivery agency. In just the space of four years, IP Australia has gone from receiving just 12% of its IP applications online – the rest coming through on paper – to now receiving 99.6% through digital channels.

Not only his, but Bollard is overseeing the decommissioning of old systems, a move to the cloud, has implemented agile working, created a DevOps environment that focuses on continuous delivery, ensures systems are designed with the user in mind, and is even deploying AI technologies to improve experiences for employees and citizens.

I got the chance to sit down with Bollard at Pega’s annual user event in Las Vegas this week, as IP Australia has implemented the Pega platform as its case management system. Bollard explained:

Our vision is really to become a world-class IP office and to try to support the prosperity of Australians in the system. Really what we want to do, is as much possible, is try to support Australian innovators, make their ideas great. If people have great ideas, we want to support them through that process.

In terms of why IP Australia decided to rethink its approach and opt for the Pega platform, as well as change the way it worked, Bollard said that there were three main drivers.

Firstly, he explained that the agency was running off of very high cost, old systems, which Bollard described as dysfunctional. He said:

They didn’t connect very well. And they weren’t harmonised at all. That created a lot of cost for us. It also took us a long time to deploy changes for users and customers. Often if you came to us with an issue it might take six months in order for us to develop the code, to go through the environments, and deploy it.

They were on an old technology stack, which was not really developed for a much agile environment. The digital expectations are always accelerating.

Secondly, Bollard was aware that the nature of the economy has changed over the past few decades, with much greater focus on knowledge and information. He said:

If you look over my lifetime, probably since 1975, if you went and looked at the top S&P 500 companies on the stock exchange, only about 16% of their value would have been intangibles, such as IP.

If you look at today, I think they make up about 84%. So there has been this massive growth in the knowledge economy. It’s the fuel for the modern economy. As an IP office, we are front and centre, trying to manage all of this. If you want to be successful as an economy, you need to have a good IP system, you need to be able to enable innovators. So we really needed better systems to support better success for people in Australia.

And finally, the third driver was unsurprisingly around citizen expectations. Bollard acknowledged that today there is a growing expectation from customers and citizens of improved service, in a digital environment, that is immediate and high quality. This is inevitably placing greater pressure on government and others to raise the bar and deliver more enhanced services, he said.

What’s changed?

So, the above situation is what IP Australia was facing three and a half years ago. It has about 850,000 customer transactions, or requests, a year and has about AUS$210 million flowing through the system in terms of what it collects in revenue. As noted above, by implementing Pega and designing services around the user, the agency now receives 99.6% of its requests online…

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