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The driving force behind digitalisation and how to make it work?

Every organisation in the public or private sector, regardless of the industry, is eager to improve their day to day work and increase productivity. I am focusing on the public sector…

The question that is asked most frequently - how to have a consistent level of service, with high quality standards and providing customer or user satisfaction.

In my daily conversations with government, it’s become obvious that in the past few years, agencies in all nations, have tried various approaches to improve their processes, trying to automate where possible, to reduce manual handling.

The process

They initiate internal and/or external attempt through a business consultant firm, trying to map out current processes in order to start the journey of transformation. This is followed by digitalisation. The next question is how to trim the fat from current process and enable a smarter way to achieve an outcome.

The execution challenge remains. It’s easy to discuss and express the importance of digitalisation, and the value-adds. But the hardest question is how to make it happen within an acceptable time and in a cost-effective way? AND - How to keep the business on-board? 

The next challenge is how to get the organisation to adopt changes, taking into consideration the business readiness and being fair. They will have legitimate questions: 

  • What does this mean to them?
  • How it will impact their day to day work?
  • Are they going to lose the flexibility and control they currently have and be at the mercy of IT?

Before even starting the process of digitising, CIOs have the tough job of getting everyone on-board by answering these questions clearly. 

How can you increase efficiency and reduce operating cost? How can you achieve more with current resources, to ensure lean operations, which would be cheaper and faster?

Organisations need to take cognizance of all the challenges from the beginning and have a macro-level view of what are the challenges that need to addressed at once. Otherwise it will remain theoretical. It will be another failed attempt at creating a new buzz word, words invented by large consultant organisation and die few years later (Digitalisation, Transformation, BigData etc.)

You have two driving forces, technology company and consultancy firm. The technology company tries to push products they built years ago, trying to align them with today’s business needs. For example, trying to sell CRM as a platform for digitalisation, which ends up addressing only a fraction of the problem.

The consultancy firm on the other hand tried to make the engagement longer and more complex, so that the assignment can be extended to meet and their quarterly financial result targets are met. Meanwhile, CIOs and businesses remain as they were, with added frustration, lots of Visio drawings, a pile of documents describing the problem they already know, and architecture design, which is way too complex to afford and implement.

Next we learn that the business has no more appetite for new adventures or theoretical ideas pushed by CIOs, promising something that was sold to them by clever IT salespeople and smart consultants. 

Businesses are seeking real innovation to improve the quality of work, provide flexibility, simplicity, mobility and enable efficiencies to achieve work / life balance.

We came to the realization that time and budget are key. Promising business improvement, which will be achieved after 18+ months, is no longer acceptable. 

The offer of even a remarkable solution becomes a hard sell to the business, if implementation timeframe exceeds 6 months. Due to the global economic downturn, budget is another key challenge. Every government and private sector entity is searching where to cut cost, so the days of large budgets to achieve so little are in the past.

How to manage operational challenges by enabling optimisation and increasing efficiency? With smart resource utilisation, using current manpower. It enables micro and macro details of day to day operation, tasks, progress, impacts and increases' resource utilisation based on their capacity. This enables clear visibility of the resource performance and demand.

There is still a gap between business demand and needs and what the technology and consultancy industries are offering. The speed at which the global economy is moving is much faster than what today’s methodology, approach and technology are offering. 

The important questions to consider going ahead: How do we shift from e-government to smart government? What macro strategies can be adopted to make real, pragmatic changes NOW?

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