Navigating scepticism, budget constraints, and innovation in government digitalization

Published on February 08, 2024

Governments have been using technology more and more to help people access services and support their workers. It’s been a big change, but now there are new challenges coming up. But even though the challenges are changing, it’s still really important for governments to keep upgrading their technology.

New technologies are coming up that can completely change how governments and other industries work. These technologies offer great chances for governments to do their jobs better, of course.

Also, government agencies from different countries already play a big part in these improvements by funding, creating, using, and controlling technology. They often work with companies, schools, and even nonprofits to make new technologies and support people who come up with new ideas.

But honestly, with how fast things are moving, I believe the government has only just started to see what’s possible with technology. The way things are changing now, there are so many new things that governments can use to do their work, and they’ve only just started to figure it out.

However, despite everything, the mission of digital governance shouldn’t and cannot change.

Many people are skeptical about the governments ability to innovate

A lot of people doubt if the government can really come up with new, functional ideas that benefit THEM – the citizens. But history shows that when the government has a good, solid vision, a culture that supports innovation, and puts money into it, they can actually be really good at making groundbreaking things happen.

Sometimes, new ideas come from government research centres, and sometimes they come from private companies. But what often works best is when both groups, the government and businesses, work together.

Sometimes, the government starts the idea, and then companies take it and turn it into things citizens use every day. Like, did you know that the search engine we all use, Google, started from research that got funded by the US National Science Foundation?

Another important thing for the government to be innovative is to have experts in technology and digital fields. That’s why the UK government plans to have/open 2,500 digital and technology roles in government by June 2025. Having these experts can help the government come up with better and more useful ideas for everyone.

Governments view deploying new technology as a challenge

A recent study called “Tomorrow’s Government Today” looked at how technology is seen by both people in charge of running the government (CIOs) and regular citizens in the US.

Good news is most leaders feel pretty good about the technology their government agencies have right now.

Almost all of them, about 94%, think their agencies have at least okay technology for what they need to do. Only a small 6% think their tech is not good enough.

But, for governments to work well in the future, they need to have the newest IT systems, be able to understand information from data, and use the newest tools available (which I have already covered).

Because of this, 60% of leaders are really focusing on making their IT and data systems better. They want to do this so they can make better choices and work more effectively.

On the other side, people in the country now expect their government to work almost like businesses do.

They want services that are really good, just like when they choose something to buy. Around 64% of people think the government needs to get better at providing good service, working efficiently, and being easier to reach.

Additionally, about 70% of people want the government to start using advanced technology like 5G for quicker communication and AI for doing things better and faster.

Now, is the constant need for improvement a bad thing?

Absolutely not! Wanting to constantly improve is a fantastic approach. Think about it: from the time the internet began until now, we’ve made incredible progress, but there’s still a lot more we can achieve.

The fact that those in charge of government technology are always striving to make things better is a really positive sign.

It shows that today’s leaders are fully committed to making steady, ongoing improvements in how the government operates, even if it’s challenging. The whole idea of using technology to create a better government is incredibly important, and they’re putting in a lot of effort to make it happen.

This commitment to making things better bit by bit is definitely something to be encouraged and applauded!



About the Author

Mohammad J Sear is focused on bringing purpose to digital in government.

He has obtained his leadership training from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, USA and holds an MBA from the University of Leicester, UK.

After a successful 12+ years career in the UK government during the premiership of three Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, Mohammad moved to the private sector and has now for 20+ years been advising government organizations in the UK, Middle East, Australasia and South Asia on strategic challenges and digital transformation.

He is currently working for Ernst & Young (EY) and leading the Digital Government practice efforts across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and is also a Digital Government and Innovation lecturer at the Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences Po, France.

As a thought-leader some of the articles he has authored include: “Digital is great but exclusion isn’t – make data work for driving better digital inclusion” published in Harvard Business Review, “Holistic Digital Government” published in the MIT Technology Review, “Want To Make Citizens Happy – Put Experience First” published in Forbes Middle East.

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