Architecting Digital Governments of the Future

Digital transformation has become a critical activity for all organizations today, and enterprise architecture (EA) provides a structured, model-driven, methodology to approach strategic transformations, in both business operations as well as for supporting information systems.

According to Dr. Pallab Saha, General Manager of The Open Group – India, “Governments across the world are embracing architecture-driven transformation initiatives with a digital-first perspective. Digital technologies are changing the way citizen interactions are happening, with new rules and opportunities that were unthinkable a few years back. Government services delivered via multiple channels need to be coherent and provide a consistent experience. The adoption of such digital services requires a change in citizen behaviors and habits.”

Digital interactions force the evolution in culture with speed, decision-making methods, and rules, that may run counter to the traditional way of doing things. The Open Group – India invited speakers from different parts of the world to share their experiences on how they successfully architected their government.

Marta Tomovska, Director of Public Administration Reform from the Office of the Prime Minister of Serbia shared that “No matter how big or small the country is, the digital government architecture is the same.” She further shares that by setting up the building blocks of digital government such as databases, payments, deliveries, security, privacy, they were able to have huge savings in the end. Initially, the cost for doing so is high but the return on investment and the benefits that the citizens and government attained made the lives of Serbian citizens easier. Once a digital government has been established, it also means that a greener government is created and they build this in line with their country’s sustainable development goals, which is exactly what Serbia has done for its citizens.

Dr. Simon Hsin-Ke Lu, Commissioner of the Department of Information and Technology from Taiwain, shared that the government of Taipei adopted technology in a big way wherein they focused on a city perspective while using different Enterprise Architecture approaches and frameworks such as TOGAF, ADM, and BPMN. In order to ignite the momentum of economic development and drive industries to upgrade and transform, Taiwan needed to enact more aggressive national ICT policies to respond to fast-changing and evolving technologies such as cloud computing, big data, IoT, and ultra-wideband infrastructures in the era of the internet society. Aligning with the national policy directory “Digital Nation, Smart Island,” the Taiwanese government has promoted the “Digital Nation & Innovative Economy Development Program (DIGI+) 2017-2025,” which is intended to enhance digital infrastructure, re-construct a service-based digital government, and realize a fair and active internet society with equal digital rights. In addition, innovative cross-boundary digital applications can be initialized with solid digital infrastructures, not only to further drive the industry to adopt digital development, but also to promote the smart city concept and bridge the digital divide in rural areas.

As they undergo significant digital transformation programs, governments across the globe are faced with a series of increasingly complex challenges, says Hani Eskandar, Digital Services Senior Coordinator for International Telecommunication Union. One issue discussed was the issue that architecture is gaining a lot of traction. Without architecture, it will be very difficult to scale digital services and transformation. There has been an increase in demand for countries that would like to accelerate their digitalization however there are huge risks when planning is not done right. A digital government may end up with more silos and a lack of interoperability because the lack of proper architecture may not lead to the efficiency and type of transformation that they envision.

If a public sector digital transformation project is to deliver better outcomes for a country’s citizens, then it must take the form of a holistic construct with integrated thinking. Innovative technology needs to be combined with a clear vision of the project’s objectives, efficient operations, enabling policies, and measurable goals.

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