We are twenty years down the twenty-first century and as expected digitization of the world has reached unprecedented heights, as it is now almost impossible to go through a day’s tasks without connecting to the digital world.
The testing times of the ongoing pandemic have further necessitated the shift to digital working models for organizations which allows for effective operations and efficient connectivity to stakeholders.
While the private sector is keeping up well with this shift, the public sector seems to be lagging behind, testing the waters and trying to find the best fit for its services. However, the Network Readiness Index 2016 by the World Economic Forum labels this “careful” approach as problematic as the gap between citizens’ increased use of digital technologies seems to be widening in relation to the government’s slow adaptation.
In Pakistan, the newly elected government is determined to renounce the outdated procedures and replace them with innovative digital solutions to strengthen accountability, promote transparency, and empower citizens by ensuring the provision of their right to information. However, lack of digital knowledge of public servants, absence of adequate leadership skills, and unstable Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure of the government are the leading factors that hinder the digital transformation of the public sector. In most traditional societies like ours, resistance to change in favor of long-established practices is also one of the major factors that restrain digitization.
In this situation, a look into the few major benefits digital technologies can have on the public sector can guide the leadership towards better decisions and can also attract the concerned public sector servants into improving their working processes. Since the availability of the latest digital tools and the rapid digital transformation of the private sector has made citizens attuned to receiving services in a highly-systematic and digitized manner, the foremost advantage that can be gained through the inclusion of digital technologies is the ability to better understand and facilitate these tech-savvy citizens.
In addition to this, employment of a digital framework in the public sector can help in; enhancing the quality of operation, procedure, and delivery of services; simplifying data processing; ease of data storage and leverage; helping in easy dissemination of information to the citizens, and promoting cost-effective and time-efficient procedures.
Most companies are aware of their shortcomings but are clueless as to why this downtrend is happening and how to overcome it. This is where those latest digital solutions come into play.
The exhaustive list of a variety of software and programs, made available by our thriving IT industry, offers answers to diversified problems of the public sector by addressing these gaps and combining stakeholders’ feedback with suitable intelligence tools to devise appropriate operation strategies.
While it is understandable that an instant full-fledged transformation to a digital method is a long shot, step-by-step progress can do wonders for the public sector by familiarizing the service providers with the new work model and addressing one issue at a time.
To catalyze the digital transformation of Pakistan’s public sector, our team met with the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, during the Finance Division meeting last week, where he was advised to devise an effective strategy for the better use of technologies that are already available.
Thus, in view of the demands of this digitized world, the revolutionary benefits of digital technology, and the availability of highly-advanced, efficient, and feasible digital solutions, there remains little room for the public sector to resist digital adoption against conventional analog tools.