“The sooner and faster governments embark on digital transformation, the more capable individuals, business and countries will be in harnessing opportunities offered by the technology revolution.”
We are living in the era of technology revolution, which disrupts and transforms business, governments and society alike. Every country is challenged to adapt and keep up with the change.
Can governments neglect the technology revolution?
This question is even more relevant for governments, which have failed to deliver growth and prosperity to their people, being trapped in inefficient and obsolete development paradigms. The whole governance ecosystem is being questioned and governments’ responsibility is to lead and embrace digital transformation to respond to growing demands and challenges of the new world.
The Future of Government Smart Toolbox by the Global Agenda Council, World Economic Forum provides for clear recommendations for governments to embrace technology to boost their delivery capability and respond to challenges like: corruption, inefficient bureaucracies, poor quality of services, low citizens engagement and trust, old-thinking leadership and resistance to innovation in government.
For developing countries, like Moldova, government inefficiency and corruption are the biggest challenges that undermine their present and future, making their citizens and business, captives of outdated policies, institutions and practices. Insufficient leadership in embracing digital tools will perpetuate inefficiency and corruption in public sector, continue to generate high transactions costs and low productivity for both, government and business.
Time has come for governments to become champions of digital transformation and lead by example. The sooner and faster governments embark on digital transformation, the more capable individuals, business and countries will be in harnessing opportunities offered by the technology revolution.
The key precondition – Digital would have to be embedded into governments’ DNA to address the following priority challenges:
- Government inefficiency and poor service delivery. Redesign of archaic governance and service delivery models, and use of digital should become the ‘default modus operandi’ in government. ‘Digital by default’ along with top political commitment are key success factors for cutting red tape, generating efficiency and providing high quality services.
- Corruption, as a major obstacle to economic development. A study by Suffolk University finds, as the use of ICT enabled government increases, corruption decreases (1% increase in e-government Index may result in a 1.17% decrease in corruption). Most interesting, developing countries, compared with developed ones, benefit the most from the use of technology in government, in reducing corruption. ‘Good governance powers innovation. If you know how corrupt a country is, you can predict fairly accurately how much innovation you will see there’.
- Increasing digital skills gap. Only in the European Union, by 2020 more than 90% of jobs will require digital skills. Governments averse to technology and innovation might be late in responding to this challenge. By keeping their education policies and systems unchanged, governments risk to continue producing irrelevant skills for the digital economy. To break the status quo, governments have to approach ‘talentism’ differently, and invest digital capabilities and skills that can make their economies innovate and grow.
- Getting ready for digital economy. ‘The digital economy is simply becoming The economy’, stated EU Commissioner for the Digital Economy & Society, Günther Oettinger at the Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona. The digital businesses and industries are driven by knowledge, data, innovation and entrepreneurship. Forward-thinking governments are to act as ‘digital brokers’, and invest in digital capability of its people and business, provide incentives and support them to compete, integrate and succeed in the ‘The economy’.
Technological revolution provides countries with unique opportunities to reinvent themselves and overcome the ‘developing country’ status. The world is changing and is changing fast. Old solutions just don’t work any longer. Technology can help but two conditions are absolutely critical:
- A courageous and forward-thinking political and governing elite, ready to assume and embrace digital transformation; and
- Governments should lead by example and embed digital in their ‘modus operandi’ to advance digital transformation of their individuals, business and society.
Estonia did it, and is one of the best practices to follow for small and large countries. Will other countries dare and be able to reinvent themselves by tapping into benefits of innovation and digital technologies?
Author: Stela Mocan is Executive Director, E-Government Center, Government CIO, Moldova, and a member of the 2015 intake of World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders
This article was initially published on Young Global Leaders 2015, World Economic Forum