Any digital transformation within the public sector should have a master plan that focuses on creating efficiency and transparency and ensuring easy access for individuals and businesses.
This was highlighted during a webinar session on Thursday, hosted by the Singapore-based management consulting firm CrimsonLogic, on the topic Driving Digital Government Transformation.
The company, which has partnered with several governments to implement state-of-the-art digital transformational projects and offer cybersecurity services, has a presence in some 19 countries.
Sharing lessons from Singapore and how the company has been helping several countries in their digitalisation process, Nicholas Wee, Chief Architect and Senior Vice President of Product Group, said planning for the future was a critical part of the digital transformation process.
He said it was important to plan how to use information technology to drive value, build the economy and improve the lives of residents.
“Any transformation programme should not only talk about an inward looking perspective of just transforming what you can do better, but transforming in a way that looks at how do you impact the economy towards a positive outcome,” Wee said.
Adding that digital transformation should be an ongoing process, he said countries should pay close attention to cybersecurity along the journey.
He also advised that good governance should be kept front of mind “to make sure the digitalisation journey doesn’t end”.
“Going digital we all know is very critical. The reason is very simple. We can boil it down to three key factors – creating efficiency, creating transparency and it is about providing access,” said Wee, who added that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of having a digital process within governments to still provide services to the population and businesses when there is a lockdown.
Pointing out that during the process some jobs were expected to be lost, Wee said governments and organisations should upskill those employees and put them in other areas.
“So, there is a level of change management involved. There is a need to make sure that when you . . . are taking away that service, you need to transform the person’s job to some other job, some other high-value job,” he said.
One of the major pitfalls Wee said the region should avoid was getting distracted by the technology.
“Look at the needs. Don’t always go with the feeling that the latest technology is the solution to your problem. Don’t let the technology be the driver of your transformation. Look at the needs of the society, look at the needs of the businesses, understand what is critical to you as an economy and a nation. Start from that point of view,” he advised, adding that in the case of Singapore the type of technology used was for the country’s “survival and for it to thrive”.
“Digitalisation doesn’t mean you need to use the latest of technology. It means how do you capitalise on the technology that is already in your nation,” Wee added.
The senior management official said while he saw a lot of transformation taking place in some countries, they were moving ahead with big ambitions and not taking the needs of the population and businesses into account.
Pointing specifically to the Caribbean, he said he believed it was in the transitioning stage of digital transformation and digital readiness, pointing out that there were four stages: the emerging stage; the adoption phase; the transitioning stage; and the transforming stage.
Wee said one of the challenges limiting countries’ ability to digitally transform their economies was the availability of finance, adding that private/public sector partnerships could provide some ease in that area.
He also identified poor infrastructure and lack of public readiness as barriers to digital transformation.