Unleash Digital: Accelerating the Transformation of Public Services
The transformation of public services is a continuous journey that involves many critical success factors that goes beyond technology.
First of all, it requires a top-down approach. Singapore, for example, used to have many siloed systems and databases, which the government began to address with an organization-wide approach that have since made services more people-centric. This is especially important since transactions with the government are usually a means to an end. As an equivalent example, opening a restaurant is the end objective, but the owner has to interact with various public sector agencies to obtain the necessary licenses, which are the means.
To be people-centric, the government typically needs to mandate data exchange and governance across departments by leveraging interoperability platforms, agile applications development and hosting, data center, and cloud. A centralized Electronic ID is crucial to identify and provide people-centric services. And while often under-emphasized in developing countries, a national backbone network, government WAN, and last-mile solutions are necessary to bring the Internet to the people.
Various countries that rank highly in the UN e-Government Development Index started offering people-centric services two decades ago. But, successful digital transformation requires many critical success factors, which differ from country to country because of differences in areas such as politics, economic conditions, digital access, and literacy. This is why a local ‘Technology Ecosystem’ is crucial.
Other critical success factors include:
- Vision & Leadership
- Governance & Structure
- Law & Regulation
- People & Culture
- Operating Model
- Security & Sovereignty
- Data Strategy
Globally, many countries have published national digital transformation and public services transformation agenda and plans, such as Thailand Digital Economy and Society Development Plan, Digital China & 14th Five-Year Plan, Digital Switzerland & Federal ICT Strategy. Most of the above critical success factors and technologies are highlighted in these plans.
However, national plans can be enhanced further to make them truly transformational, as we need more than people-centric services. Governments need to provide proactive and personalized services too. This is where big data and AI become important to quickly analyze the needs of the people.
Moreover, it’s worth noting that plans for safeguarding digital privacy and data sovereignty are missing in most national plans.
While digital transformation is all about people, data also matters. This is why data is the new crude oil. Just like before crude oil can be made into many products of value, we need to drill for the oil, we need to transport the oil, and then we need to refine the oil to finally produce valuable products. In digital transformation, this represents innovative services.
Huawei’s Intelligent Twins reference architecture offers end-to-end capabilities for the data management process. Through technologies such as WiFi-6, CPE, GPON, and SD-WAN, Intelligent Interaction (drilling for oil) ensures connections and the interaction of people and devices. Enabling such interactions is the Intelligent Connectivity (the oil pipe) that covers the national backbone using DWDM and Microwave, and the last mile using Fiber, IP, Microwave, LTE and eLTE. Intelligent Hub (the oil refinery) covers the data center facility, IT hardware, and cloud services, including DevOps and AI. Finally, Huawei works with its global ecosystem to offer Intelligent Applications (final products of value) to provide the innovative services of digital transformation.
A major obstacle to delivering people-centric services – without which we can’t even talk about proactive and personalized services – is infrastructure silos across departments. This is why I hold Vision & Leadership and Governance & Structure as two important critical success factors. Ideally, be it at the national level or big city level, a government needs to have centralized operations and management of the Intelligent Interaction (e.g. Mexico Internet for All), Intelligent Connectivity (e.g., Nigeria Galaxy), and Intelligent Hub (e.g., UAE G42).
On Intelligent Hub, our experience shows that due to data privacy, security, and sovereignty, one size cloud does not fit all. Governments needs to typically offer three types of clouds: Public Services Cloud (on a public cloud such as Huawei Cloud), Administration Cloud (by a centralized department to serve other departments, such as on Huawei Cloud Stack) and Security Cloud (by the user department, such as on Huawei Cloud Stack).
A successful digital transformation journey has to be top down, identify segments to ensure some quick wins and value, and to leverage the local ecosystem. The long-term and wider implementation of national digital transformation may need a formal study by a consultancy. Governance and workflow need to be reviewed to support the success of the transformation. And lastly, the value of digital transformation needs to be measurable and the public servants entrusted to implement such transformation appraised based on such measurements.
Huawei Digital Government Solutions [Huawei Enterprise Business Group webpage]
Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.