Podcast 🎧 : Digital transformation trends for governments entering the next normal
This year’s e-Governance Conference – A Digital Decade in One Year – looks at the implications of the accelerated digital transformation resulting from the pandemic. The programme creates space to explore the new normal in which we find ourselves today, and the next normal that we are entering.
In the build-up to the Conference, our podcasts will introduce some main speakers and topics that will take part in the programme. With Siim Sikkut, CIO of the Government of Estonia, we explore Estonia’s experience in adapting to the new normal and consider what the next normal has in store for national digital transformation plans. The episode was hosted by Federico Plantera.
Digital state navigating the new normal
In Estonia, the pandemic presented the ultimate test for the country’s existing digital foundation. From this perspective, Sikkut believes Estonia managed to cope rather well with the unprecedented crisis. The digital services that had been built up over the years continued to function as usual, allowing the government to continue serving its citizens remotely.
But the impact of the crisis clearly varied across sectors, with healthcare and education experiencing the greatest pressure. “In many ways our schools have been coping well and it has been better than we feared,” Sikkut notes. “But unfortunately, the experiences of children and teachers vary across schools, and how ready they were to adapt,” he admits. With healthcare, Estonia was lucky to have a good digital health foundation. At the same time, in response to this specific crisis, many changes had to be introduced overnight.
Lessons for digital transformation in the next normal
The other side of the coin is that any new pressure may be approached as an opportunity for improvement. The pandemic has uncovered new lessons that can be taken into the next normal and, in some cases, it reaffirmed existing plans too.
In Estonia, this includes the plans for invisible government services. When it comes to public service delivery, Sikkut contends that “the best user experience is where the government does not bother people” – in other words, services should be as automatic and proactive as possible. This extends to both public servants, at the backend, and citizens as well as entrepreneurs at the frontend.
The principle of proactivity has been driving Estonia’s digital transformation for a while, but Sikkut notes that the pandemic provided further momentum. “In times of remote work and study, people want to be bothered even less by the government, so the same drive we had before has just been strengthened,” he concludes.
The session, ‘Which Trends Should Governments Follow in Their Digital Transformation Plans?’, at the e-Governance Conference, will delve further into what the next normal demands from governments around the world. There, Siim Sikkut will be joined by Randall Brugeaud, CEO of the Digital Transformation Agency in Australia and the discussion will be moderated by Linnar Viik, Programme Director of Smart Governance at eGA.