Improving the delivery of services and boosting citizen satisfaction is a top goal among public sector organisations. Alongside this, the proliferation of mobile devices and Web-based applications to access government services is highlighting the public sector's need to transform how it develops and delivers services.
This is where digitisation comes in, says Trevor Bunker, senior vice president: Global Presales, CA Technologies, who says digitisation is as compelling for government bodies as it is for the private sector. "It's about delivering a higher quality service, in a shorter amount of time, at a lower cost."
He says there are examples all over the world that show how the adoption of digital technology is changing peoples' expectation of how they should be consuming government services, and causing governments to rethink how they deliver services to citizens.
One of the most common digital initiatives is going paperless, says Bunker. "Imagine never having to fill out a form, or stand in a long queue at a government agency again," he adds. Not only will this free up time for citizens, particularly those who have to travel for hours to reach the closest government services centre, but for governments, as there will be less resources needed to file, organise, capture and manage paper documents."
Doing things digitally will make governments far more efficient, and the advent of cloud computing and mobility, means that documents can be accessed and updated at any time, from almost anywhere.
"Think about the first hundred people to test the iPhone, who then said what they did or didn't like about it? This is what we should be doing with citizens. There are ways to incentivise citizens to try out, or adopt digital services."
In terms of rolling out digital services, he advises against trying to launch a perfect app or service. "Historically, I think a lot of governments went for the ‘big bang' approach, of trying to iron out all the bugs and wrinkles before launching. It takes far too long to try to perfect a new solution, and you end up losing the idea of what you were trying to do in the first place."
Bunker says governments need to start using the more agile techniques that are being employed in the private sector to ultimately deliver a better service. "Governments tend to get caught in this ‘analysis paralysis' of looking at every end use case and every scenario, to a degree of precision that is unrealistic. By the time they've vetted all that, it's three years later, and they've forgotten what they built the service for in the first place. They key is to get going and deliver something. Be directionally accurate rather than precisely wrong."
In terms of how SA measures up with its global counterparts, Bunker says there are some great examples of where SA is leading. "An instance of this would be around RICA and the traceability and registration of mobile services to help offset crime and corruption, the fact that you have to prove identity and ownership of mobile services."
On the flip side, he says currently there isn't a lot of collaboration and sharing among government departments in SA. "For example, take all the information needed to apply for a driver's licence renewal. You'll fill out a lot of the same information when it comes to healthcare or education services, so citizens are not getting the benefits they could be, should this information be reused or shared."
CA Southern Africa executive, public sector, Gordon Hayden says at present, CA is trying to work through Sita and put an agreement in place with them that allows them to purchase on behalf of government. In this way, it is attempting to drive an economies-of-scale approach with the agency.
He says CA offers a cloud platform around its IT management solutions, which is ideal for government departments as it helps with standardisation, reduced costs and ease of management.
"In addition, fewer skills are needed to use the technology, as the solution is managed by CA. In this way, it takes away some of the issues around IT management for the various government bodies and allows them to focus on the business of doing government itself."
Speaking of the skills shortage in SA, Hayden says: "We see with many of our customers, even in the private sector, that the skills aren't always there. Because of this, although they are extracting value out of their technology investments, they are not getting the maximum benefits they could."
To address the issue, Hayden says CA introduced an IT Management Academy that brings in six to eight graduates every year and puts them through an extensive life-orientation programme of four to six months. "This time teaches them working in business, Excel, presentation skills, and other general skills, then moves them into mainframe certification training. "CA is trying to work on the skills shortage in the country by doing a small part, because skills are critical."
There is no shortage of opportunity, concludes Hayden. "It excites us to drive programmes and initiatives that will make a difference in SA."
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