On Government Digital Transformation
24 de March de 2022
24 de March de 2022
Since the beginning, we’ve always said that digital transformation is more about people than it is about technology. Also, as it is people who take on this responsibility (or is it an imposed obligation?), culture and the generational issue take on a decisive role — and this is true for companies, institutions and profitable organisations as it is for government entities in all their levels.
The set of decisions that are made with focus on addressing government digital transformation and its extensions must be a state policy.
Governments with less resources and a long way to go in the development of areas such as health, education, security and employment, should use technology as a bridge. Their goal should be to be more efficient in their investment of their limited resources.
Technology must help bring qualitative and quantitative changes and add real value to the government's managerial costs.
The strategy should be backed by true political determination from every part of the government. It must help governments lay down a path with real impact in the short, medium and long terms.
There are going to be many issues that, if left undebated and with no agreements between the different political parts (from different spaces, not only those in power), may give place to a repetitive and decreasing cycle of bad investments and constant changes or cancellations of programmes, with sides opposing just to “be part of the opposition”.
There must be political consensus; one that defines a clear path to follow, through which two main goals should be reached:
As for the development of industries and sectors, that’s a topic for another moment. Today we will focus on the digital transformation (or adventure) that governments should embrace in order to make the most of the times we’re living in and move forwards.
Many countries already have a Modernisation and Technology Ministry or a Digital Acceleration Ministry. But it’s important to understand that a strategic plan carried out by a ministry is not only a departmental matter, but an issue that must have an impact and application in every ministry of a government.
In order to carry out a programme that reaches every area of society, every industry and every point of connection between governments and citizens, it’s necessary to have solid structures, trained employees and resource allocation in processes, software, hardware and, mostly, in human capital in order to sustain the whole process of change.
It would also be interesting to come up with specific actions that stimulate the development of the tech industry, fostering contracts, training, incentives and incubators.
In the topic of human capital, there’s an important issue related to the ability of the ruling political class not only to internalise digitalisation processes but also to develop new ways of ruling — new ways of approaching people, of carefully treating data, of making investments, spendings and tax allocation more transparent. This is a very important challenge that starts not with those in power but with those who put them there.
Conflict of Interests?
Since this is a human issue, the question could be whether opening access to data and automating government processes would be “beneficial” for those in control of the state.
We must consider that, by managing data, some things become evident, like inefficiency, unnecessary structures, poor time management and delays.
These sort of situations that we will have to face as a society may give rise to some questions such as:
As a prosumer society (both producer and consumer) that has the capacity (and obligation) of choosing their political leaders, the challenge ahead will be to find answers through planning that includes everyone in order to offer a solid, efficient and agile path for people, companies and governments.
Simplifying steps and processes is a good first step to save people time. But it’s also necessary to modernise the economic development of every sector and boost those industries that are based on knowledge.
Here’s some information that can help us understand: In Latin America, for example, it’s estimated that by 2030/2035 the digital gap will be much smaller; around 500,000 millions could be made in new economical activities and almost half a million new jobs could be created annually in the region.
Spain already started implementing a digitalisation programme: Digital Kit. The goal is to increase dynamism and digitalise the management of any sort of company — it’s divided into three groups: big companies, SMEs and freelancers. This opportunity will find its place in the digital ecosystem and it will be developed by companies, consultants and freelancers who will also offer support in order to spread this opportunity and help people understand what it is that’s being digitalised. It’s not just using websites to sell what’s in demand, but rather a group of coordinated actions that will help the whole economy to move forwards.
Lately, the bootcamp modality has been on the rise. And, additionally, there's easier access to doing online studies, whether in more official and professional and traditional centres or in more flexible centres for online education that are closer to the market needs. All of them help increase the amount of workers (but not in large numbers) that seek to develop skills that are expected to be in high demand in the (not-so-distant) future.
As negative as this description may have sounded, I think there are some situations that we can appreciate and be optimistic about:
In spite of the confinement, we’ve managed to connect in other ways. As for the social circle, we came up with virtual replicas of meetings, birthdays and even parties and we’ve become more constant in wanting to know how our loved ones are doing. At a personal level, many have taken this opportunity in order to study, develop new skills or do new things.
We’ve already taken the time to talk about this in detail, but working from home, after much debate, has found its place in most companies and has created new business, ways of managing companies and it gave many people the opportunity to balance their personal life with their work (not in every case, but it has happened a lot).
Sports and physical activity, as well the mental side of health, became of paramount importance. We’re social beings and we need human contact and self-care. Confinements made us understand that this is no minor topic.
In conclusion, the change we should be seeking must focus on driving a digital economy, increasing means and channels to access products and services, improving interpersonal connectivity (without leaving aside human empathy), but also make us think about how we want to be governed and which role we think we want to have as citizens.