The Importance of Government Leadership in Digital Transformation

Negative Space -

Our societies and economies have reached a new threshold. The developments that have lead to this are a logical continuation of our evolutionary process, but interestingly, the current rapid societal changes coincide with the availability of new information and communication technology (ICT) tools. These tools can assist us in:

  • Political transformation – creating a more democratic environment at grass root levels.
  • Transform our economy to create exponential opportunities.
  • Transform society through e-health and e-education.

On the negative side, these tools can also be used to undermine democracy, enhance (cyber) crime and increase commercial and political surveillance. There is also a clear warning to the United Nations from 116 global leaders on the threat of weaponised artificial intelligence(AI) and robotics.

Digital transformation can equally be used to destabilise markets and in the rush to face off competition, risks could be taken that would undermine internal processes; further concentration could lead to a new group of too-big-to-fail companies (for example in the financial and ICT sectors). We also need to listen to the 116 global leaders who have urged the United Nations, governments and society against weaponising AI and robotics, before the tech world opens this box of Pandora.

In order to benefit from the positive developments and to manage the negatives, significant transformations are needed at horizontal levels and this means cutting through the many individual departments that are often not related to each other that make collaboration more difficult, known as the silo system. This requires leadership from the top at the level of prime ministers, state premiers, mayors and CEO’s.

These transformations are important if we want to reach the sustainable development goals (SDG’s) as agreed by the United Nations (UN) and show the critical importance of the need for government policies to facilitate smooth transformations.

Good governance policies and regulations are needed at national and international levels in relation to telecommunications infrastructure, cyber security, data management, data analytics coordination/regulation, managed open systems and privacy.

Governments need be accountable, so clear measures need to be part of e-government (i.e. the use of electronic communications devices, such as computers and the Internet to provide public services) to get outcomes that are delivering a positive contribution to society.

It is equally important to create local environments that empower people and facilitate community and crowd engagement; smart cities are good platforms for such developments.

Changes will be needed at enterprise levels as transformations are typically long-term developments, while the current economic and financial business model favours short-termism. Change will be needed from an emphasis on short-term shareholder value to one on a much broader long-term stakeholder value. As the value put on the exponential new digital giants shows, truly transformed enterprises are also more valuable enterprises.

Global Seven News

Paul Budde

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