Digital delivery does not come without its challenges. Culture, processes and the digital skills required to use new technologies are just a few of the hurdles digital project teams need to mull over before they seek to transform important services.
We know that digital transformation is a lot of work, but today we’re not going to focus on the challenges. Instead, we're focusing on three different success stories from three very different nations. Digitising government services is a journey and luckily, we have a whole world of new and exciting strategies that we can learn from. This post looks at three different nations and their different approaches to digitising services for the citizen-centric era.
1. Thailand’s five-year digital integration strategy
Thailand’s forward-thinking Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha is a firm believer in the strength of advanced technologies driving economic and social progress. Those of us who have kept up with the pace of digital transformation understand the potential that technology has to transform our lives. But we also understand the challenges of implementing and integrating new solutions into more traditional ways of operating.
None of these are hurdles to Thailand’s Prime Minister though, as his newly announced digital integration strategy has been given a timeframe of five years. Within that time, all sectors of government will be required to develop the digital acumen to plan and run quality public services.
The ambitious digital evangelist states: “Within the next five years, the government will be transformed into a ‘digital government’ backed by the integration of operations and management among various government agencies. Smart technology and services will be fostered by a citizen-centric strategy aiming to accelerate Thailand in all aspects, both substantially and practically.”
This transformation strategy will focus on four key development models: government integration, smart operations, citizen-centric services, and driven transformation.
It is an ambitious strategy, but the Thailand Government is actively encouraging all sectors to focus on similar strategic visions while upholding the same standards. By 2021 we will know if this all-in approach to digital government is successful, and if so, it may just be a new model for other nations to follow.
2. The UK’s newly released Digital Strategy
To boost a digital economy, you need to have the right skills and people leading these projects, and a great way to ensure government projects are running well is to collaborate with the private sector.
This is the idea behind the UK’s new Digital Strategy that aims to create a partnership between government and industry to encourage digital innovation.
There is much the public sector can learn from business, and the strategy hopes to coordinate digital training programs to show government agencies how to build a new culture for change, while also teaching them the new skills required in the new information era. ‘Outside experts’ will be brought in to show policymakers how to generate ideas with the latest technologies in mind.
One of the challenges facing many nations looking to digitise their critical services is effectively tackling the digital divide. In an effort to mitigate this, one of the main focuses of this strategy is to ensure that all citizens, young and old, are included in the digital landscape.
Part of the strategy is aimed at training primary school teachers to teach their students new essential skills in computing. Unfortunately the age-old conundrum of accessibility is still an issue in the UK, so the strategy is also aiming to fund full fibre broadband plans.
3. Denmark’s vision to improve digital service delivery
Holding true to their reputation as one of the most digitally-advanced nations in Europe, the Danish government has worked tirelessly to engage their citizens in the new era of online services, and it’s started with the very building blocks of a nation: personal identification and healthcare.
Denmark has successfully integrated their digital identity scheme into many facets of their day-to-day operations. Roughly 4.8 million citizens now use EasyID and digital identities are needed for all registered businesses.
Denmark’s digital identity strategy has become so prolific that you can even make an appointment to see a hairdresser with it. The project has been popular since 2001, when the government partnered with private banks to develop a user-friendly ID that is also secure.
But it’s not only in the digital ID space that Denmark has been working tirelessly, they also have a vision to move patient care to homes. The tech-savvy nation has started shifting chronic lung patients to their home and tracking their progress through a national monitoring system.
This is still a pilot system, but Denmark has started to see positive results for patients with mental sickness. Lars-Frelle-Petersen, Director General at the Danish Agency for Digitisation, states that in the future they’ll also be looking to roll out the project to elderly patients.
Although Thailand, Denmark and the UK have all taken different approaches to digital delivery, the end goal is the same: to improve the lives of citizens and productivity of the nation.
The traditional sense of government is changing, and we’re seeing the ripples of digital transformation usurp one nation after the other. That may not be new to you, but what is new is the shift in mindset when it comes to digital government.
Brunel University London released a draft research report stating that there needs to be a complete turnaround in the way governments think about digital technologies. And what these three nations have shown us is that it’s possible to shift a government’s mindset when it comes to service delivery. Co-Author of Digital Government: Overcoming the Systemic Failure of Transformation, Paul Waller states that using different language isn’t enough when it comes to embedding new technology into a country.
“If you want to transform government and public administration, you have to redesign your instruments and their legislation to embed the use of technology in creative ways, not just build a web front end.”
So is that the major challenge of digital government? Ensuring that services go through the whole process of transformation so that they’re not even called services anymore, as opposed to just giving a service a cosmetic uplift? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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