Recently, the Government of Dubai, under the directions of its top leadership, initiated the concept of “Smart Governments” or “s-Governments”, the vision being to leap into the next realm of public sector automation and effectiveness. In reality, Dubai’s government plus many others in the country and region have long been “e” Governments, whereby technology was adopted widely in the majority of aspects for public sector services, processes and transactions.
Smartness of governments is perceived by many as a widening in the use of Mobile Application, which was seen in full effect at this year’s Gitex conference - Several government departments in Dubai un-veiled their new “Smart” initiatives, like that of Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) ’s “classroom in tablets”, an initiative to enable students to access all their books and materials and to communicate with their teachers through smart tablets. My understanding of the more toward ‘smartness’ is that it’s more of a next step to automation, an introduction of the “e” factor into public sector operations. For example, the majority, if not all, of the procurement functions in the public sectors of this region have adopted and implemented financial systems and ERP’s for a decade approximately, but still their processes has many deficiencies in terms of ineffectiveness, timelines, paperless process, etc. You would still at the norm find departments that have the latest technologies and versions of ERP’s in place, but their process is a combination of the old and new in an overlapping paradigm of duplication and in-efficiency.
It’s great to see public sector departments embrace new drives for improvement and change with enthusiasm and new approaches, but in my opinion the next step towards a more effective “s-Governments” is to focus more on reaping the value from their investments in their current technologies look more into the processes of needs identification -specs and scope of work definition, Report generation and management of information sharing, Stakeholder engagement automation, and processing of electronic approvals and Automation of commercial negotiation.
These efforts will definitely mean the re-visiting of policies and the upgrading of human capital skill set, but these initiatives are, in truth, the smarter option for a smarter government!