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“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning”  Albert Einstein


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At this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW conference that is the exact mentality I took during the week as I interacted with colleagues from public sector as well as participants also known as “citizens” about reimagining government in the digital era. 

Here are some insights I learned from six questions I asked.  I also added video replays of sessions from the conference that align to digitization.

1. What does digitization mean to you in the context of government? 

  • Going paperless (people used examples like online forms, mobile apps, online training, employee collaboration, automated alerts and cloud based government marketplaces). 
  • Giving citizens access to government services through mobile and internet technology
  • Extending service and operations beyond the four walls of the organization
  • Ability to seamlessly cross operational borders to fulfill a service request 
  • Enabling eCommerce between government and businesses or citizens
  • Enabling citizens’ to find the information they need quickly (tailored to their location)
  • Ability to use data from sensors to maintain assets and infrastructure

Recommended session – See how the Internet of Things empowers digital transformation for safer, more energy efficient cities.

2. If governments adopted digital technology… where do you think they could focus on improving society or services?   

  • Make the government convenient to work with
  • Better protect society
  • Reduce drug use, traffic accidents, crime rates
  • Improve education, housing conditions, employment opportunities, environment
  • Interact better with constituents
  • Accelerate processes
  • Eliminate manual transaction steps
  • Access real-time data to sense and respond (emergency management, disasters, traffic jams, in person wait times for government services)
  • Access consistent constituent information regardless of communication channel
  • Connect buyers and suppliers across supplier networks
  • Leverage sensors to optimize waste removal, parking, lighting, traffic flow, maintenance cycles and prevent infrastructure disasters

Recommended session – Explore how “things” can be connected with core processes and transformed into  intelligent machines, delivering unprecedented insight and predictive action.

3. What are some key digital technologies that can make a difference?

  • Sensors that enable critical assets and infrastructure to be connected
  • Data analytics
  • In-memory computing platforms
  • Social media
  • Smart Phones/ mobile applications
  • Cybersecurity
  • Internet
  • Cloud
  • Supercomputing
  • Geospatial (maps)
  • Employee collaboration platforms

Recommended session – Learn strategies for mitigating cybersecurity risk in the digital world

4. What are some use cases where digital can make a difference in the context of government?

  • Offer individualized experiences that guide constituents and give recommendations
  • Use digital platforms to facilitate interaction and business
  • Use collaborative technology to include constituents insight and ideas for better policy decision making
  • Improve the interaction experience for citizens and businesses with government
  • Sense, predict and act in real time to protect citizens from security threats, health hazards and natural disasters
  • Integrate physical & digital worlds to eliminate unnecessary administrative steps
  • Enable citizen facing employees to access consistent constituent information regardless of communication or service channel
  • Enable better policy decisions across agencies and departments through data hubs
  • Enable a cloud based collaborative government buyer and supplier ecosystem across supplier networks

Recommended Session Reimagine how to find, develop & support the people you need employing new technologies to help employees.

5. What are some challenges to execution in using digital technologies? 

  • Culture
  • Inability to change
  • Cybersecurity concerns
  • Privacy concerns
  • Executive sponsorship
  • Financing

Suggested session – Learn how to win in today’s digital economy and complex environment using a different kind of leadership.

6. What is some advice you could share to those starting to use digital technologies?    

  • One size does not fit all – Take the time to align with your colleagues to think through what is feasible for your specific organization and situation
  • Use your purpose to your advantage – Tap your relentless passion to serve the public
  • Think like a citizen – Put the citizen in the center of everything you do
  • Have the courage to experiment – get out in front and lead no matter what your role is in the organization – your citizens’ are counting on you
  • Have patience…  cultural change will be difficult
  • Simple changes can make a big difference

Suggested session – Construct new business networks, real-time business processes & entirely new business models in our digitally connected world.

Government employees are passionate and want to do everything possible to make the world a better place.  They have the opportunity to make things better for citizens’ today and for those who follow.  Adapting will not be easy but I have confidence.   

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Can you help by sharing your perspective on reimagining government for the digital era?  Please add your comments by answering any or all of the questions posed in the blog or simply going to the comments section to bring up new ideas. 

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