Why Digitization is Worth It

The Digital Age is upon us. More and more cities all over the globe are connecting people and things through the Internet of Things (IoT). We are living in a world where wearable technology can inform your doctor about your vital signs and cities are deploying city-wide wife. However, in order to take advantage of these connected devices and people, and to keep up with citizen demands, the public sector needs to invest in the digitization business process, which applies business principles to technological innovation.

In order to understand how governments are leveraging digitization, GovLoop brought together Stu Davis, State CIO and Assistant Director for the Ohio’s Department of Administrative Services, Office of Information Technology; Derek Bridges, Administrator at the Ohio Administrative Knowledge System; Mike Wons, First State-Wide Chief Technology Officer in Illinois; Alan Shark, Executive Director and CEO of Public Technology Institute; and Daniel Kent, Director of US Public Sector Engineering and CTO at Cisco Systems in our recent online training, “The Digitization Payoff for Government.”

The Digitization Payoff for Government

Digitization can be defined as modernizing processes through mobile and connected solutions. This can range from connecting field workers to their main office through mobile applications to monitoring sewage with sensors throughout a city. The first step to digitizing your agency is deciding to do it. However, this can often be met with resistance because of the challenges associated with modernizing. Shark identified the six digitization challenges as: the need for greater enterprise-wide governance and leadership; moving technology beyond the data center and IT offices; making big data useful; the rise of new c-suite positions; figuring out how to use cloud to manage services; and determining if your agency can afford to adopt digitization practices.

While these challenges do pose significant roadblocks, especially for smaller local governments, Shark said that digitization is possible. “When I look to local governments, I ask not just how but why we are doing modernization projects and who we are doing them for,” he explained. Taking a step back and adding perspective can make it easier to push projects forward in the face of challenges.

Additionally, digitization is necessary because the role of IT is changing. “We are connecting things that have never been connected before and we are increasingly having to understand what is happening on the business side in order to most effectively leverage technological innovation,” Kent explained. Adopting this perspective allows agencies to drive digital innovation. According to Kent, the five benefits of digitization are: improved employee productivity: improved efficiencies and cost reduction: enhanced citizen experience; increased revenue; and new capabilities and services.

Two states that have been particularly successful in implementing digitization strategies and reaping the benefits of digital innovation are Ohio and Illinois.

Digital Ohio

Ohio’s digitization initiative, the Ohio Digital Experience works to provide a secure and private digital identity and an intuitive and interactive user experience for Ohio’s citizens, businesses, and employees. “The main goal of the initiative is to allow the citizens of Ohio to get what they need,” Davis explained. They accomplish this through five building blocks that build the framework of the initiative. The five-prong framework includes broadband connectivity, enterprise identify, user experience, fraud and risk analytics, and digital experience platform and portal services.

The core principles of Ohio’s Digital Experience include being user-centric, operationally effective, intentionally collaborative, and purposefully flexible. These principles allow the initiative to meet and exceed constituent expectations. Bridges explained, “We’re looking at the user experience as more than the aesthetic and taking it to a comprehensive package by onboarding all of our applications into a package so the users can holistically use the solution.”

Just DoIT in Illinois

Similar to Ohio, Illinois started their modernization program to revolutionize their IT department and meet their citizens’ needs. “We positioned this journey as one that is trying to change the mindset of IT to be more business focused and to drive technology innovation across the state of Illinois,” Wons explained.

Their transformation journey, which saw the birth of the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT), is focused on consolidation and speed. By enabling public entities in the state of Illinois to come together in a collaborative environment, the state has been able to bring a collective knowledge of IT to the entirety of the state of Illinois. Additionally, the transformation journey is focused on a series of 75-day sprints that work to effectively and efficiently drive the transformation journey. Looking forward, Wons concluded, “We have to be able to have sustainable change driven deep enough in the organization to empower the people to use these tools to get things done.”

Ready to start a digitization revolution at your agency? Watch the full online training here.


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Mark S. Patrick

Good post! One funny (to me anyway) spell check error in first paragraph: “…deploying city-wide wife…”

It’s obviously supposed to be wifi, but city-wide wife…LOL.

Thanks for your work, and keep being awesome.