We are living in an era of technological revolution that is disrupting and transforming business, government and society alike. All are being challenged to adapt and keep up with the change. This is especially true of governments, which have struggled to deliver growth and prosperity, are trapped in inefficient and obsolete development models, and now have a responsibility to lead digital transformation.

The Future of Government Smart Toolbox, co-launched by the World Economic Forum`s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government, provides clear recommendations on how to embrace technology to respond to challenges such as corruption, inefficient bureaucracies, poor quality of services, low citizen engagement and trust, old-fashioned leadership, and resistance to innovation in government.

Leading by example

For developing countries like Moldova, government inefficiency and corruption are the biggest challenges that undermine the nation`s present and future, holding their citizens and business captive to outdated policies, institutions and practices. Failure of leadership to embrace digital tools will perpetuate inefficiency and corruption in the public sector, and continue to generate high transactions costs and low productivity in both government and business.

The time has come for governments to become champions of digital transformation and lead by example. The sooner governments embark on a digital transformation, the more capable individuals, business and countries will be in making the most of this opportunity.

Governments need to embed digital into their DNA. Here are four reasons why:

  • Government inefficiency and poor service delivery. A redesign of archaic governance and service delivery models should become the default modus operandi in government. “Digital by default” will help to cut red tape, generate efficiency and provide higher-quality services.
  • Corruption is a major obstacle to economic development. A study by Suffolk University found that as the use of information and communication technology by governments increases so corruption decreases (a 1% increase in the e-Government Index may result in a 1.17% decrease in corruption, according to the study). Meanwhile, it is developing countries that benefit the most. Good governance powers innovation.
  • Increasing the digital skills gap. By 2020 more than 90% of jobs in the European Union will require digital skills. Governments averse to technology and innovation risk being late in responding to this challenge. By keeping their education policies and systems unchanged, governments risk continuing to produce irrelevant skills for their economy. To break the status quo, governments have to approach “talentism” differently and invest in digital capabilities and skills that can make their economies innovate and grow.
  • Getting ready for digital.The digital economy is simply becoming The economy, said Günther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for the Digital Economy & Society, at the Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona. Forward-thinking governments need to act as “digital brokers”, investing in digital compatibility for their people and businesses, providing incentives and supporting them as they strive to compete and integrate into the economy.

The technological revolution provides countries with unique opportunities to reinvent themselves and overcome the “developing country” status. Estonia did it, and is one of the best examples for small and large countries to follow.

The world is changing fast. Old solutions no longer work.

Author: Stela Mocan is Executive Director, E-Government Center, Government CIO, Moldova, and a member of the 2015 intake of World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders 

Image: An Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) official saves digital data after having scanned a voter’s fingerprint with a biometric identification system during the Kenyan general elections at the Lorubae primary school in Archers Post, Isiolo County in northern Kenya, March 4, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola