$22 billion. It’s the kind of figure that attracts attention. It’s a once in a lifetime policy reform that is now currently being rolled out nationally. The policy has been welcomed with open arms by those in need; clients with special needs who require support for their disabilities. It now puts people with disabilities firmly in control over their lives, as they have the spending power and can choose which provider and which services they most want.
My personal prediction is that we will see increasingly sophisticated choices made by people with disabilities who recognise that they no longer need to settle for anything less than the best. Service providers need to get onboard with recognising the newfound power of consumers in this space or they will fall behind – perhaps catastrophically. This is posing a challenge for service providers, as they undertake large-scale transformations within their organisations, alongside a cultural change. Successful organisations are already striving to establish their credentials for providing great support as well as great service.
We are already seeing a diverse range of providers spring up to fill niches within the marketplace that are rapidly gaining traction. Covocate is a great example of how the application of a fresh approach, in this case using data for flipped recruiting, can help organisations make better hiring decisions specifically for this highly specialised industry (full disclosure – Darren Harlock, one of the co-founders, is a good friend of mine and I’m not above putting in a plug for them).
One of the questions we’re hearing at Linx is whether service providers really are truly ready for a consumer-driven approach. The key challenge for disability and NDIS service providers is to prove that they are good enough to ‘customers’ who really can choose to take their money elsewhere. How can organisations recruit and train the right sort of people who will provide the right mix of support, service and technical skills to meet the discerning needs of customers? For some of our partners, they are working hard to create awareness amongst existing and staff that are creating great experiences and providing fantastic service is core business.
In all of this, there is also a growing awareness amongst the more forward-thinking organisations that they are now living in a world where it is no longer business as usual. Implementation of market mechanics forces the evolution and adaptation of businesses in this space. A key strategy for organisations in the NDIS space is to create a point of difference and stand out from the crowd. What we are seeing is a recognition that recruiting and retaining the right workforce, combining talent, technical skills and great soft skills, is the foundation for success.
James Bell, CEO