Enabling knowledge exchange - Govt goes social

Government organisations are increasingly looking to collaboration solutions to connect to enable their staff to work better together

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Enabling knowledge exchange - Govt goes social Collaboration solutions are gaining in popularity with government organisations.
By  Mark Sutton Published  February 16, 2016

Government organisations are increasingly looking to the benefits of collaboration solutions such as video conferencing and enterprise social networks to connect their personnel to enable them to work better together and to create repositories of organisational intelligence.

The foundation of most IT solutions is to support and enhance the flow of information, but as governments seek to break down silos of operations and improve knowledge sharing, so specific solutions for collaboration are coming to the fore. Government organisations are increasingly seeking the benefits of connecting their personnel and enabling them to work together better.

The current landscape of collaboration solutions tend to focus in three areas, voice, video and document sharing, or a combination of all three. Vendors are promoting unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions, including video conferencing, document portals, online collaboration environments and so on as the means to better connecting personnel and increasing their productivity. In general enterprise organisations have been the first adopters of these solutions, with varying degrees of return, while public sector has lagged behind.

Abdelhamid Suboh, partner and Public Sector leader at Deloitte Middle East commented: "There are early initiatives to promote collaboration among public entities within each of the regional governments at different levels of maturity."

He pointed to Saudi Arabia's Yesser e-government authority's E-correspondence system as an example of a solution to drive government collaboration, but noted that on the whole, "public sector collaboration is behind the private sector in both maturity and uptake".

Mukesh Chulani, program manager, IDC Government Insights Middle East, Turkey, and Africa, said that a recent IDC survey of MEA CIOs showed that less than 20% of government sector respondents have implemented some form of UC&C, against adoption of rates of greater than one-third of respondents from other major verticals. The picture is changing, however, he said: "There is certainly growing interest in UC&C among governments in the region. Over 40% of MEA government sector CIOs surveyed without any active UC&C solutions indicate they are evaluating implementing the technology within their organizations over the next 24 months. This interest is being driven in large part by applications around Bring your own Device (BYOD) and mobility, collaboration, videoconferencing, and the integration of communications and collaboration functionalities with internal processes and applications."

The benefits that can be derived from better collaboration are many, according to Wael Abdulal, senior manager - Collaboration, Cisco UAE, including cutting operating costs, accelerating decision making, and improving productivity.

"Collaboration is fundamental to building a more engaged, efficient government organisation. Collaboration tools are changing the business of government. They're helping government employees connect with constituents, colleagues, and vendors more efficiently and with greater clarity, to simplify operations, share knowledge, reduce travel costs, create new experiences and increase performance," he said.

The potential benefits have certainly been proven in some deployments. Chulani highlighted the Australian government's National TelePresence System, which in a little under six years has hosted over 10,000 meetings and saved $97.5 million in government travel and related costs, by enabling desktop video meetings instead of staff having to travel. Closer to home, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Justice has made extensive use of UC&C in case management, collaboration between judges and training, he added.

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