What is digital transformation?
Digital Transformation is the process of leveraging digital technologies to create a new or modify the existing business processes, fundamentally changing how you operate your organization and deliver value to customers in order to meet ever changing requirements. Beyond that, it’s cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge status quo, moving away from long-standing norms that organizations were built upon in favor of relatively new and untested practices.
Why does it matter in governance?
1. Making government services accessible
Today’s citizens expect public services to be as personalized and responsive as the services they get from the private sector. Governments need to reimagine how digital can be used to enhance the citizen’s end-to-end experience of public services. This requires the adoption of a ‘citizen-first’ culture and mindset in designing policies and delivering services. The ultimate goal is to improve service quality, promote transparent and efficient interaction, enhance the level of public trust in government, and drive better citizen outcomes.
Social media and mobile platforms are replacing traditional channels as a means to interact with government, report concerns and provide feedback. Mobile services, such as apps and SMS, enable people to access the services they need in a more convenient and targeted way. These e-participation tools also encourage greater collaboration with citizens by involving them in decision making, policy setting, budget prioritization, problem solving and the co-design of services.
2. Improving capabilities in public sector
Governments need to build the skills and capabilities of their own employees in order to drive greater efficiencies, elevate customer focus and strengthen diversity and inclusion. In a competitive labor market, the public sector has not always been an employer of choice for top talent. Governments need to do more to attract, retain and develop people with the required skills and capabilities. As they gradually build a more dynamic and responsive environment, governments will attract younger workers who are in search of purpose-led roles where they can make a difference to society.
Creating this culture partly relies on governments freeing up employees’ time to concentrate on more stimulating and value-adding tasks. This can be done by deploying intelligent automation tools to complement human workers. Reducing the amount of manual and repetitive work leads to higher levels of productivity and satisfaction, in turn helping to attract and retain high-quality candidates and improve citizens’ experience with government services.
Mobile technologies can help agencies empower their workforce to do their jobs more effectively. As a high proportion of public sector employees regularly work outside the office, they can be equipped with devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops to perform their duties wherever they’re located.
3. Better utilization of resources
In an environment of uncertain growth and rising demand, governments must find sustainable ways to finance public services and infrastructure. Digital technologies create opportunities to explore new models for providing services, improve management of resources through smarter spending, and link the money invested in programs and services to the outcomes they produce for citizens, boosting accountability and trust.
4. Better Infrastructure
Many of today’s most fundamental challenges — urbanization, globalization, pollution, water shortages and climate change — can be tackled with smart infrastructure developments such as connected cars, electric vehicles, smart power grids, energy-efficient buildings, Internet of Things (IoT) networks and open data portals.
Governments are facing strong pressure to build and upgrade infrastructure, particularly in urban centers where expanding populations are putting increasing pressure on aging facilities. Many emerging countries need new infrastructure to support their growing populations and increased economic activity, while mature markets must renew deteriorating or inefficient infrastructure. However, the years of underinvestment in infrastructure is now catching up with countries around the world. Estimates show that nearly US$100 trillion globally needs to be spent on infrastructure in the next 20 years.
Smart infrastructure offers a way to harness the latest technologies to obtain maximum value and efficiency and create resilience and sustainability. It applies digital technology – such as smart devices, sensors and software – to physical structures, from power plants to bridges. These intelligent devices enable more efficient and effective monitoring and control of energy and water systems, transportation networks, human services, and public safety operations – all core government functions.
Governments that effectively manage digital transformation will create a world-class quality of life for their citizens, regain public trust and improve their country’s competitiveness within the global economy. They will also be in much better shape to weather the next surge of disruption, whatever form that may take.