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Author's profile photo Frank Godeby

Beam Governments out of the “Digital Stone Age”

When governments are asked about their digital roadmaps/achievements, some departments are just celebrating the implementation of an electronic index in order to organise their paper folders. The technology behind such achievements was available 25 years ago.

On the other side of the “spectrum”, we are discussing Public Sector topics such as Low-Touch, Social Media, In-Memory, Big Data, IoT, Machine Learning, Omnichannel and many more topics in line with the latest technology trends.

While the general “digital divide” has been measure in various ways (e.g. access to internet, mobile phones and alike), the “digital government divide” has been mainly measured via the use/availiblity of self-service Websites. However questions (related to the new digital government topics) beyond website access are more difficult to measure:

  • Are self-services seamlessly integrated and allow real-time processing?
  • Can self-services be replaced by connected systems?
  • Are websites well personalized, device agnostic?
  • How well do government delivered services compare with commercial offerings.
  • Can governments explain constituents’ behaviour on their channels even if transactions are abandoned?
  • How well engaged are constituents?
  • How is the freedom of information act implemented?
  • …..

The digital government divide is evident:

  • Between Public and Private Sector.
    While governments definitely feel the pressure of their constituents to digitally catch-up with the private sector, the adapt-or-die situation is clearly less evident for government organizations.
  • Between different government departments.
    This gap exists between different countries and different types of departments within the same country. Even in G7-20 countries, the level of government sophistication varies widely among different jurisdictions.

Without downplaying the complexity/roadblocks within public sector organisations, I have seen several trends slowing down the digital transformation:

  1. Incremental change:
    Often governments chose the path of perceived minimal risk and follow improvements step after (little)step. They do not consider the possibility to leapfrog into a digital world aligned with current technology.
  2. One dimension digitization:
    There are many modern tools and starting points in order to digitize government business. Often the combination of several modern tools will further leverage full potential of a digital operation.
  3. Complexity of integrated IT systems:
    Rather than aiming for an integrated platform via a holistic program, stove-pipe systems are further band-aided via many, disparate small projects.
  4. Missing openness for change:
    Especially legislation is often used in order to argue against digitalization. “We still need a physically signed paper document”.
  5. Move the “old world”:
    Either old legacy environment or even the paper world are mapped 1:1 into the newly digital world without questioning the ability to re-engineer processes.
  6. Lack of shared services:
    Government departments deliver a clearly defined operational service and especially small departments cannot afford to focus on IT projects. Without guidance of efficient shared service centres, digitalization will either not happen or be linked forever with excel sheets.

Governments must reimagine their models and processes and the way work is performed and organised needs to be redefined.

The HANA platform, providing modern digital tools, allows you to leverage world-class, multi-dimensional digital experience in line with consumer-grade experience of the corporate world.

SAP and our partners are highly committed to successful digital government transformation programs. Please contact us in order to explore your options.




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      Author's profile photo Paul O'Sullivan
      Paul O'Sullivan

      Agree wholeheartedly, would love to see more government organizations leap frog into the digital world instead of taking incremental steps.  Often these small incremental steps leave them further behind private sector who are leading the charge.