Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Government and IT - A glimpse of future

Introduction: I have read the article " Ten IT-Enabled Business Trends For The Decade Ahead (Bughin, Chui, and Manyika, McKinsey Quarterly, May 2013)—SKIM" which is assigned for this week and connected my thoughts on government embracing these technology trends currently and in future. I feel its an important discussion because although the corporate world has made a huge leap by using cutting-edge technology, governments across the world are still not making complete use of the services provided by these latest trends and there could be tremendous improvement in the policy making and citizens' lives if the technology is used to the optimum extent. 

The first thing that comes to our mind when we say the word IT Enabled services is technology companies. This perception is slowly changing and many of the other verticals are adopting IT enabled services on a large scale. Perceptive Technology companies in the Silicon Valley and the Banking giants are the first to adopt any new technology that comes to the market. The main reason behind this being the intense competition present on this front. Every organization can make good use of these niche services to provide value added services to the customers. So this leads us to our main focal point: How will the government organizations respond to this change in technology ? 

 How important is providing value added services for the Government?
With the advent Web 2.0, a large portion of people could be easily reached out to. Many organizations used this as a valuable resource for crowd sourcing. Now, when we talk about the Government organizations, the incentive to provide high quality and value added customers is less in comparison to the corporate organizations. However, with ‘bigdata’ and the analytics field booming and is at its peak, I feel that the Government organizations must adopt this formula to achieve success. With abundant data from multiple points and new analytic tools coming into the market at a very rapid pace, the customization and the services that the government can offer would be seamless. The areas that Government organizations serve require a lot of predictive analysis, which can be made easier by adoption to this trend.

This leads us to our next trend, which would see a lot of popularity and adoption by major firms which is automation. With the advancement of big data analytics, physical labor and transactional tasks have been widely automated. This trend is expected to continue over the next decade too. Government functions are one of the major areas where physical labor is required but they always fall short of resources. Like, remember when you had to experience those long wait times in a government office because there were not sufficient attendants? Yes, this can be considerable reduced by automation. This is where most of the industries are looking at and government organizations especially, will benefit a lot from this implementation as they can solve their problem of hiring minimal professionals and reduce our wait times as well.

Current applications of technology:
Although government organizations across the world have been slower than the private sector in adopting cutting edge analytics, there are examples of government using internet and technology effectively to reduce problems. India, one of the fast developing countries has implemented the world's largest biometric-identity program, Aadhaar and also planning to use the Web to save $6 billion in fraudulent payments. India is also running the trials of the $50 Tablet computer to build an affordable e-learning program. Rural parts of Bangladesh are using mobile technology to administer child births. Technology is also being used to effectively collect feedback from the citizens thereby improving the performance of government itself. For example, South Korea has implemented e-Peoples site which collects complaints of corruption and petitions thereby making policy changes more citizen-friendly.  The new IT trends are also changing the way education is delivered. As we all know, global massive online open courses (MOOCs) 
Biometric fingerprint reader for Aadhaar program in India

Aakash- World's cheapest tablet

There are several aspects that any organization, especially government organizations should be careful about while adopting new technology such as maintaining transparent business models, training and education, organizational implications, privacy and security to name a few. Privacy and security is one of the most important issues for government organizations . But a strategic balance should be struck between security and usability of IT systems, otherwise the system might be very secure but it wont have user-friendly architecture which happened in the case of Affordable Health Care IT system.

The super complex architecture of Affordable care IT system
Too many errors in the system due to extra security; not user-friendly

The Bottom Line
As many of us would think about the obvious, governments are always slow when it comes to adoption of a new technology due to number of reasons such as investment, lack of trained resources and high communication costs. This has to change as these technologies are becoming more affordable to organizations and the learning curve is small as well which would allow Government organizations to cross train their resources. The bottom line is that government organizations have started responding positively to the latest trends of social media and big data in a slow manner, like the impact that President Obama created through his online campaign utilizing social media to its fullest unlike ever before. Over the next decade, consumers are going to be more informed and would expect government organizations to address their issues in a more professional manner. I feel that the government led organizations would respond positively to these IT- Enabled trends. But How quickly?  How efficiently? still remains a question that we all are looking forward to.

What do you think will make government embrace these technologies faster and gain positive advantage? Think about it and post comments below :)


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