Let’s see then what trends are set to change the relationship between states and digital transformation in the next years.
- 1 – Governments as innovators
Governments must support and prepare the necessary conditions for the development of a digital society. In terms of education and skills, for the positive effect they have on the general readiness of the population to the adoption of new technologies. But then also through measures to make the digital economy flourish.
“Every country has certain centres of gravity, a sector of excellence driving digitalisation in the national economy. This might be banking and finance, or industrial production, or even culture and tourism, depending on the characteristics of the nation. In this sense, governments should enable this competitive edge to translate into spillover effects to foster widespread digitalisation in other sectors,” Viik explains.
States should shift their focus from internal IT development to targeted investments, and fair rules for market competition. And as innovators themselves, public sectors can have a crucial role in creating better ecosystems for digital transformation.
- 2 – The emergence of a hybrid model and public-private partnerships (PPPs)
Whether we look at OECD or BRICS countries, state expenditure in IT is a significant part of the macroeconomics of national digital markets. And if roughly 30% of all IT development and spending in the economy comes from the public sector, where does this money go in the end?
“States could potentially take care of the whole process of digital transformation by themselves. Or, better, they can make this funding available on the market, and contribute to the growth and competitiveness of companies in the IT sector. Not only these would see the volume of their own customer base increase, but they would also contribute to develop and operate efficient digital solutions for the public sector too,” Viik highlights.
We see a new, hybrid model for digital transformation taking shape, where states increasingly engage the private sector – and not only through public procurements. When problems are identified together from the beginning, developing and managing the solutions comes easier. Furthermore, in a context where equality of opportunity and access to investments are ensured, cooperative projects of digital development enhance the competitiveness of a country’s private sector.
- 3 – An accelerator for public digital transformation
Maybe not so surprisingly, common challenges can make different nations stronger, together. Size, population, institutional setting, issues to tackle that are specific to certain geographical or economic areas. When the approach is collaborative and strongly result-oriented, digitalisation can be made painless and cheaper. Just as it works with accelerators in the private sector.
Similarities in contexts and aspirations allow countries to be grouped in clusters. “Jointly, they can benefit from external technical advice and mentoring, and achieve amazing results much faster and with smaller investments. For this purpose, to facilitate roadmap development and implementation, e-Governance Academy this year is launching a digital transformation accelerator for governments. In this way, countries take the most from superb expertise and coaching to intensify institutional and regulatory development, as well as capacity building,” Viik proudly announces.
- 4 – Rethinking sovereignty in the digital age
Lastly, a talking point at the intersection between computer science and theory of law (yes, exactly). New technologies become an integral part of the organisation of states, and increasing interconnectedness changes the way we interact and exchange goods and services. Is it maybe the right time for a reconceptualization of sovereignty in the digital age?
“It is not far-fetched to imagine clusters of states using a shared currency or judicial system, as well as registers. It is happening in Europe, or between Estonia and Finland with data exchange. International organisations are growing, and borderless digital tools are developing. What would it mean for a group of countries to rely on public cloud solutions, for example? Currently, laws establish that data and operations need to take place within a country’s territory. But rethinking certain aspects of sovereignty, in the era of ICTs, could prove particularly useful for highly connected or small countries, such as in the South Pacific or Caribbean areas,” Viik outlines.
New talking points in governments’ digital agenda might shake up established practices. But e-Governance Academy will keep supporting and assisting public organisations and policy makers to make the most of the digital transformation.