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How to Prepare Yourself for the Digital Age of Government

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a manual on all things life? You might even settle for a manual that helps you prepare for the digital age of government. Unfortunately, it does not exist – yet. However, there are experts out there like William Eggers who provide us with some tidbits about how to set ourselves up for success in this new age.

Eggers, Public Sector Research Director for Deloitte, sat down with Christopher Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER to discuss the findings behind a report by Deloitte titled The Journey to Government’s Digital Transformation: Executive Summary. He also discussed how govies (and agencies overall) can prepare themselves for the new digital era of government.

Eggers explained the current digital transformation the world around us is undergoing. “Digital transformation is really all these technology components that are changing the way we work, shop, communicate, and get around,” he said. “We need to understand how these tools can also potentially change government.”

Social, mobile, analytics, cloud computing, and cybersecurity are all major components that tech-savvy organizations are trying to harness in this digital age, Eggers explained.

“These tech-savvy organizations try to harness the combined power to build intimacy with customers and citizens in order to better understand how and why they buy certain products and services,” Eggers said. “It’s about pulling all these parts together in a very powerful way.”

But, digital transformation in government is no overnight process. To truly embrace the digital age, government agencies need to take on some serious preparation. Eggers outlined three stages agencies undergo to achieve optimal success in the digital era of government.

First, focus on operational issues and how agencies can access “discrete cost savings” via technology. Second, agencies need to focus more on “the citizen as a customer and creating a better customer experience.” Lastly, agencies need to understand much more on “how we can use digital technologies to completely change the way we achieve our mission,” Eggers said.

But what moves momentum forward from one stage to the next? Here, Eggers provided some overarching advice to all govies. “You are not going to get anywhere without strategy and there’s far too many government organizations today that don’t have a digital strategy,” Eggers said. Eggers also pointed out that through Deloitte’s report they noticed that only 14% of respondents in the early stage of digital maturity had a clear strategy, whereas 86% among the digitally mature respondents mentioned having a clear digital strategy.

In other words, leaders in their respective agencies must have a real commitment in moving forward on the digital maturity spectrum. As such, leaders need to “articulate a vision for what digital transformation means…give people something to strive towards,” Eggers said. Leaders also need to hire individuals with “digital skills who understand this new world…that speak the language.”

Also, Eggers pointed out that there isn’t necessarily a problem of budget allocation for this new wave of technology since the U.S. government has allocated roughly $80 billion dollars to information technology. Rather, “the question is: are we spending it in the right way, because most of the money now goes to maintain legacy systems,” Eggers stated. Moving forward, “the key to digital transformation is to start to move a lot of that money that we’re spending on common systems, reduce that down using cloud technologies and do more shared services. This would allow us to invest in more productivity, ultimately, enhancing citizen facing tools and applications,” Eggers said.

Remember to keep an open mind. “It requires thinking in a bigger way which is about how do we create a frictionless sort of customer experience when we’re dealing with government,” Eggers explained. You may hold the answer to that manual in the future – even if it is just within your own agency. So, help build up your fellow govies to embrace the change and become as prepared as you can. You now have a guideline on how to do so-go and use it!

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