The business case for scaling tech for government | Mar20 Newsletter
Advances in digital technology have transformed the way we experience the world, including how citizens interact and engage with public institutions. People now have high expectations of public services in terms of their effectiveness, accountability and performance.
The harsh reality is that many government institutions fall behind the private sector when it comes to tech and harnessing the latest information communication technology (ICT). The often slow adoption of technology is due to a variety of factors, with budget constraints, higher levels of accountability and general bureaucracy all at play.
Government lags behind on digital
A Gartner survey found that despite digital initiatives being a priority for governments, they often lag behind other sectors, particularly with scaling their digital transformation. The report, which surveyed 60 government respondents in six countries, also found a “lack of urgency and readiness for change” in the public sector.
The net result is frustrated constituents who have to deal with outdated, manual procedures or poorly-managed IT services when they interact with the public sector. It also creates a disconnect between government and citizens at a time when public trust in these institutions is often low. This digital era has also thrown up myriad new challenges, where digital security, privacy protection and compliance have become public policy – and a key challenge for government to manage and lead on.
Digital readiness a must
This all makes digital readiness a must, and with new regulations coming into force around the world, governments can’t afford to be behind the curve. Digitally transforming public services will have a number of positive impacts, including:
Democratisation of data.
Reshaping services should ultimately be a change that adds value. It must start with a roadmap that details the digital transformation required and persuasively articulates the benefits to stakeholders. It should also emphasise that digital transformation is collaborative and requires public servants to have key digital skills and literacy.
Collaboration and digital dexterity are key
Collaboration with partners – including citizens, tech companies and service providers – is also key to help government organisations make and scale the transformation of their digital offering. Central to this is implementing and adopting business ecosystems that are already widely in use. This can be facilitated by leveraging information and technology partnerships with the private sector – such as a managed services provider (MSP) – and tapping into the foundational knowledge and digital dexterity of these private sector entities.
Workers in the public sector also need the skills to ensure they can perform and excel in a digital workplace, which often requires cultural change. This is particularly relevant for government departments where the metric of profit is not a clear motivating factor for staff, and resistance to digital innovation and change can be a factor. Any digital strategy should also emphasise a people-led future, as opposed to a technology-driven one.
Digital transformation can help government improve service delivery, help them engage with constituents and better the lives of their citizens. To do this they must lead by example, change the way they work and facilitate partnerships to maximise the effectiveness of their digital infrastructure.