A perpetual journey to successful government digital transformation

For decades, governments have been providing essential services to their citizens. And while the substance of what governments actually do hasn’t changed drastically during that time, there’s been an extraordinary transformation in the way those services are delivered.

It’s already apparent through the Digital Government Experience Centre we recently opened that there is a real demand for jointly sharing experiences on how to transform into an effective digital government. As a precursor to that I’d like to share my views of what’s driving the digital agenda in the public sector today.

In the last decade alone, we’ve seen e-government programmes implemented the world over, enabling effective electronic interaction between citizens and governments. Even more so today, citizen experience is what counts, which is why we’re seeing, in the next ‘digital’ wave, the reshaping of services and citizen experience through the exploitation of data and mobile technologies.

And the big difference is that this new wave of service improvement is designed from the outside-in, reflecting citizen and company needs in combination with a reengineering of processes, rather than the former inside-out approach that saw everyday services built around official bureaucracy and procedures. The rapid pace of change in the way people communicate, work, socialise, shop, share and explore is being dictated by the digital age – and governments must adapt and be as agile and responsive as any other enterprise in the way they engage with citizens and businesses, at local, regional, national and international levels.

Many people, companies and especially entrepreneurs are embracing the changes because they like the mobile, 24/7, self-service concept of living. Governments need to anticipate what their service users want and rapidly meet the requirements to provide efficient, customer-friendly services, with easy interactions anytime, anywhere.

Another critical factor driving the digital agenda is the need to become data-driven. Data is the fuel powering the digital transformation journey and there are significant challenges around how to manage massive volumes of information. The trend towards personalising services means sharing private information, so the need to exchange data securely is paramount. Data needs to be authentic, trustworthy and single-sourced. By being data inspired, the common experience of re-telling your problem or story many times to different officials in many departments will be a thing of the past, and citizens will only need to be asked once for their information.

Governments around the world use an open data system, which offers greater transparency to citizens by sharing government data in a cost-efficient machine-readable format, for free reuse by others. Data-driven governments can also use knowledge and shared insight to collaborate and proactively deliver innovative and intuitive services – turning ideas to value quickly. And by using Big Data and analytics techniques, governments can optimise decision-making and develop data-driven processes to support core operations and policy setting.

This information-based ecosystem is also supporting new efficient business models by simplifying, standardising and automating administrative processes. The more that integrated digital government becomes the norm, the greater collaborative working becomes.

Digitalisation too is allowing governments to take collaboration to a whole new level. Governments are not doing it all by themselves anymore – everyone needs to be part of the fabric of the process. Governments can now orchestrate the distribution of responsibility for services, pushing delivery out into the community. This collaboration ensures our entire society becomes part of the fabric, participating in the end-to-end digital process – for example by offering mobile user experiences, citizens or companies are more likely to fill in the form or issue the request.

Another dimension to the digital transformation journey is government workers themselves. At the moment, there’s a lot of focus on defining ‘digital talent’, where governments are determining what competencies people need to become the next generation of civil servants – who want to be able to use their own devices at work, work at home and have access to their tools 24/7.

Frank Huynen has spent half of his 30-year ICT experience in the Public Sector, advising clients on how to improve citizen engagement, increase efficiencies and drive administrative simplification.

A principle that really resonated with me in recent discussions was the fact that there’s no ‘end-point’ to this digital transformation. It’s a perpetual journey, where governments have to adapt today and then again tomorrow, as innovation drives advances in technology. So, this isn’t a story about governments digitalising current processes and it’s not about planning where you want to be in, say, 20 years’ time. It’s a story about governments re-engineering their processes and re-imagining their offerings on a continuous basis.

At the end of the day, the objective of government digital transformation is about driving better outcomes for society – strong economic growth and sustainable, safer communities with citizens that benefit from better healthcare and education, and greater employment opportunities.

At DXC Technology, we’ve been helping government agencies do this for many years. Our new Digital Government Experience Centre (DGX), in Mechelen, Belgium, marks the spot where entire government ecosystems can collaborate and accelerate their digital transformations supported by industry experts and the very latest technology solutions.

In my next blog, I’ll be explaining more about DGX, what is represents, what it offers and how it is helping different governments to address their own challenges through effective digital transformation.