Increasing the smartness of smart government
Achieving truly smart government will require governments to go beyond smart services, according to Fady Kassatly of Booz Allen Hamilton
The journey to smart government services has been a gradual progression as governments have been tracking innovations in technology for a few years now and have worked out ways to adapt them to their own processes. From adopting online communications and launching information portals and e-Services, through to the drive to shift services to mobile platforms, governments in the region have embraced technology as a part of their aim to create world class services.
Consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton has been active with government customers in the region since the early days of e-Government, including helping to establish government bodies to drive IT initiatives, and also in the development of strategic plans for technology adoption. Today the company continues to advise on a number of smart government programs in the UAE and GCC.
While there has been a good degree of progress by government to deliver their services via mobile platforms, that does not mean, however, that government in the region can be considered ‘fully smart’.
“If you ask me today, have we reached a state of smartness in government? According to the definition of Booz Allen Hamilton of what smart is, we are not fully there yet,” said Fady Kassatly, vice president, and leader of Digital Government and Public Sector Innovation for consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton.
“We have services that are on mobile that are much more effective and efficient in serving constituents, but these are not services that I would necessarily call fully smart. A service that is smart is a service that is responsive, that is adaptable and predictive — predictive in terms of what the customer needs are.
Integration between services is a key part of creating smarter services, and this requires a collaborative approach that can extend to areas including sourcing and sharing of expertise and skills among government entities.
“Additionally, it is important to note that a smart government is not only a government that offers services that are smart, it is also a government that can operate as a smart ecosystem beyond service delivery,” he added.
There are many different facets to what makes a government ‘smart’, Kassatly said. Governments need to show more innovation across all areas of their activities, including planning, operations and service delivery, and they also need to create more flexible structures that can react to changing technology or operational environments in an agile way.
In the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai has already set the direction for a truly smart government in the UAE with his directives for government entities to focus on innovation and create connected services, Kassatly said. But he also noted that for many government entities, it is just the start of the journey.