Technological advancements have a major impact across industries, and on people’s lifestyles. Consider the rise of connected cars
, smart power grids, and wearables, for example. Two-thirds of Germans use smartphones – not just for communications, but as cameras and GPS devices, and as a source of news and information (Bitkom, 2015). In short, digitization is transforming our society, and the way people live, work, interact, and consume. Moreover, IT plays an increasingly critical role in the public sector, which must evolve in line with these new developments. This translates into wide-ranging changes to the provision of services to citizens
, homeland as well as international safety
and security, healthcare, research and science organizations, churches and social welfare services.
Fast, innovative – and based on real-world needs
Digital transformation entails a number of challenges. Government agencies at the national, state or local level confronted with citizens’ rising expectations must deliver comprehensive, enhanced services. Emerging threats such as cross-border and cyber crime have to be countered by greater collaboration within and across public safety and security departments. Moreover, agencies must achieve these objectives while increasing efficiency, and balancing shrinking IT budgets.
At the same time, digitization opens up new horizons. It offers new platforms and applications for interacting with citizens, streamlined and integrated processes, and IT for analytics in research. In addition, international cooperation made possible through greater connectivity is crucial to crisis and disaster management, homeland and international security, and much more. All in all, innovative communications, collaboration and cloud services create entirely new possibilities to coordinate efforts, and overcome future challenges.
Greater integration for a stronger Europe
Public sector IT also forms the basis for Europe-wide integration and collaboration. For the EU to remain competitive internationally, it requires a strong economy – and a long-term political strategy. Against this backdrop, the concept of smart cities – that is, future-proof, digital, and connected – is key. For this reason, and to achieve other objectives, coherent digitization programs across Europe are essential. However, by international comparison, some countries lag behind in terms of solutions for e-government and more. Citizens are often unaware of many digital possibilities, such as submitting official application forms or founding limited liability companies via online forms or these are overly complicated or entirely absent. Currently, only 39 percent of German citizens use digital services of this type, while nearly twice as many Swedes do (E-Government Monitor, 2015).
Taking digitization forward
The public sector has to make considerable progress in digitization and cutting-edge IT to make up for lost ground – and now, more than ever, is the time to do so. Tailored ICT solutions, state-of-the-art network infrastructure, and, in particular, scalable, cloud-based solutions will play a pivotal part. IT is key to reengineering and streamlining processes – and as such, it will be critical in future efforts to modernize government agencies. In summary, digital transformation of the public sector is essential – and indeed, desirable, in order to master the challenges of tomorrow, and maintain competitiveness in the era of globalization.