Governments improve their services with the help of technology
As I’ve stated several times in the past, I believe that cloud and technology innovations can empower governments and public administrations. In order to come up with the best technology innovations, it is necessary to understand the challenges that governments face every day. We have had many discussions around this topic at the Worldwide Government Solutions Forum 2012 in London.
Several organizations have provided us with important insights on their experiences in solving the challenges of central, regional and local governments through software solutions and services, as well as their results in increased productivity, efficiency and economic gains.
Most of the technology solutions presented were cloud based which clearly reflected the increased momentum and accelerated adoption amongst governments and public administrations.
One of the main realizations around the adoption of cloud computing is that this technology solution is not at all new, but the major update consists of the way the public sector interacts with it.
Cloud has actually proven itself to be especially useful for smaller public service providers that were obliged in the past to either join larger organizations or outsource their services, as they did not have the necessary ICT capability.
I find that the story of The Government of the Perm Region in Russia is a very compelling example of the benefits of cloud adoption. With IT outsourcing in mind the regional government made several key steps to move towards the cloud. They had many important challenges to overcome. The different email, audio and videoconferencing and instant messaging systems that were used had no standardization. Furthermore all customer support was outsourced to different partners with different support and service level agreement in several ministries. At first the Perm Region piloted Microsoft Office 365 for 250 users. They also tested and compared with other vendors but after a successful pilot they moved 2,000 additional users to Office 365. While developing current SharePoint site Perm’s future step will be moving more users to Office 365 until they cover the entire Perm Region. The move to Office 365 has helped the Perm Region to better forecast IT expenses and free up time to innovate rather than time spent managing multiple different systems by standardizing on one.
Also I would like to refer to the County Administration Board in Västra Götaland in Sweden who launched an Internet portal in multiple languages as a way to offer clear information to refugees coming to Sweden. The portal provides a comprehensive overview of Swedish society and its government in six languages. The purpose of the site is to empower site visitors, using a feature called “One Way In” to see all the important information they need to establish themselves as new residents in Sweden. Also the intention is to create better transparency of the induction process and to support civil servants and others (NGO's) who deliver those processes. The site facilitates cooperation among government entities and helps them to share information easily. Businesses also contribute information to the site as potential employers. With the help of IT services provider Softronic, the site was created using Microsoft SharePoint, with connections to products such as Microsoft Dynamics customer relationship management systems and Microsoft Lync. The portal uses features similar to Facebook to share information with visitors to the site. Plans are underway to extend the portal throughout Sweden. It is a very interesting project and a good example of how Microsoft technology can help public sector customer make a real impact on delivering and improving services for citizens. I would recommend that you take a look at the video case study from Västra Götaland here.
I really believe that the future is here today, we just need to embrace it! I believe that we have the obligation to seize the opportunity that technology can provide for safer, better educated, more efficient and prosperous societies. The innovative use of the technology that is already available today is key to accomplishing this.