A particularly interesting backdrop to Canada’s current Digital Government programs is that as they reported in 2004, the nation led as the world’s number one equivalent of the time E-Government.
With a change in administration came a rapid decline in the importance of innovation and the country dropped away to become a laggard. During that period other countries like Estonia emerged to take the crown and have dominated the landscape ever since.
Now, the new Trudeau era has brought a renewed vigour for leadership and now there’s no missing the impact this has had already. Under the stewardship of new captaincy from a recently appointed, dedicated Minister for Digital Government Scott Brison and Government CIO Alex Benay Canada has surged back into the limelight as a Digital Government pioneer.
Digital Government – There’s an App for That
As TechVibes reports Scott is on a mission, and his TEDx talk he describes that mission as bringing the capabilities of the digital native leaders, like Netflix and Amazon, to the principles of Digital Government.
He highlights how these innovators have adapted rapidly to the new digital world and deliver online services that are so simple and intuitive his four year old children can quite happily navigate them via an iPad. But yet online governments still struggle to achieve this same streamlined ease of use.
We can’t be a Blockbuster government serving a Netflix citizenry
How can we create that digital startup mindset in government is the key question he believes will ignite that same transformation, citing the example of the huge failure of Obamacare prompting President Obama created a digital startup in the heart of USA Government IT to tap the Silicon Valley effect for their Digital Government systems.
The principle change is in how government IT is built – Moving from slow, waterfall methods to an agile, work-in-the-open approach, where releases are delivered quickly and iteratively to users to ensure the goal of user-friendly systems is being met in real-time.
Translating this vision into practical reality is Alex Benay, Canada’s CIO and author of his latest book Government Digital.
In this Youtube video Alex shares eight essential points that governments must adopt in the 21st century:
- Digital is everything we do. IT is no longer a back-office function, it’s the entirety of how government needs to work.
- From linear to exponential. The snail-like RFP procurement approach that takes years to deliver big bang projects is no longer fit for purpose. Agencies must work within high velocity digital ecosystems.
- Policy and legislation needs to keep up. The lawmaking procedures must change the same way. Countries that change their laws to accommodate trends like Blockchain will be the economic winners of the 21st century.
- Operate in the Open – New tools are available to work openly and engage citizens and stakeholders and should be used as much as possible.
- Embrace the digital community – Accept the fact government is no longer the sole expert and work collaboratively with others in key areas like AI.
- Adopt open source software – Especially in front-facing, customer engagement areas where this can encourage collaboration with sectors like academia.
- Harness the Gig Economy – HR practices must also transform and adapt to the new world, becoming more agile and able to harness those seeking more of a gig economy portfolio career.
- Digital First mindset – An absolute foundation of success is that wherever possible the first option for service delivery should be digital.