Digital Governments Leading in the Time of COVID-19






Technology is disruptive by nature. Because of this, technology and innovations in technology are among the best tools for weathering and recovering from severe disruptions—like the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital governments across the world are leveraging technology across all industries now to accelerate research into the SARS-COV-2 virus and its effects.

They are looking to create vaccines and potential cures to COVID-19 and share what information they find on the virus. Moreover, they are using technology to provide support to their people and industries. Without a doubt, the pandemic puts new demands on their systems, businesses, and individuals.

Digital Governments Driving Innovation

In February, IDC reported that “government leaders recognize that modernizing the workforce and implementing strategies that empower workers”. This is a testament that public officials are realizing that employees are critical components in transforming their governments.

A month later, the spread of COVID-19 increased the urgent need for such modernization. Cashless payments, online banking, contactless transactions between businesses and their clientele all became vital. This was a huge upgrade from being deemed as “preferred”.

According to the report, strategic workforce management includes multiple facets. First, it involves strengthening the leadership of human capital systems. Secondly, it entails developing better human resources processes and capabilities,. Finally, it demands enhancing workforce culture.

The IDC Future of Work (FoW) is a work model for fostering human-machine collaboration, enabling new skills and work experiences and supporting an environment unbounded by time or space. As per the FoW model, “traditional work models aren’t nimble enough, adaptive nor scalable”. Nimbleness, adaptability, and scalability are now needs, rather than ideals for business.

The latest FOW insight is that digital natives will make up a “growing share” of the workforce. As a result, human workers will be allowed to focus on enhancing their imagination, creativity, and empathy. This requires entirely new work environments, organizational structures, tools, training, and metrics for success.

Technological support will definitely influence the success of traditional and digital governments’ efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Governments that embrace innovation will lead the race in finding a vaccine and modalities for treating this new illness, as well as helping their economies survive and rebuild.

AI and FOW in Government Agencies

In its article on FOW, IDC noted that “a big component in approaching the Future of Work is to change how one thinks about what is possible when AI, remote work, and always-on capabilities exist and become essential to day-to-day operations.  Being able to alter strategies and roadmaps, plan budgets, and manage projects in a way that aligns with these new Future of work paradigms will be an important step to drive innovation.” That mode of thinking is what is powering governments’ responses to the pandemic now.

Governments, now, more than ever, have to adapt quickly. They must “necessitate a change in process, policies, and potentially even legislation to allow for new ways to work”. Furthermore, flexible thinking, as well as flexible regulations, will provide a big advantage.

These necessary changes must “improve service delivery, increase capacity, streamline operations, and reach policy goals must invest in people resources and create a tech-friendly work culture,” according to IDC. In the light of budget cuts, and stiff competition for talent and skills, public sector organizations understand that often it is better to develop their best talent. They must give them ample resources, tools, and solutions.

Best Practices of Digital Governments

Leading governments across the globe have begun transforming their functions to adapt to the digital era. In Korea, the National Information Resources Service (NIRS) under the Ministry of Interior and Safety has responded to the Industry 4.0 initiative. Under the leadership of Director Kim Myung Hee, it implemented a Development Plan 2022 TF road map. This includes major digital transformation technologies, such as AI, IoT, mobile and media data, and VR. On the other hand,  Mochamad Ridwan Kamil developed West Java Digital Province in Indonesia. With his guidance, Jabar Quick Response, Desa Digital, and Digital Village Fishery among others have been launched.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority created Space Out. It is a website that allows users to check out how crowded shopping malls are online to help users plan when to buy their essentials. In Taiwan, the Taipei City Government created a platform that efficiently distributes surgical face masks. It makes use of a real-name-based rationing system where people can order face masks using their ARC Card.

Preparing for the Next Normal

IDC predicts that by 2021, 30% of agencies will embrace the organizational skills and technological innovations that affect the future of work to enhance their ability to recruit, train, and retain key personnel.

IDC’s advice? “Don’t limit FoW deployment as a purely HR responsibility. FoW should be within the purview of all other organizational units. Deploy AI to optimize workforce operations, track workforce priorities such as diversity, and deliver strategic labor insights to managers and executives.” IDC also advises that governments should be tapping industry experts, developing talent excellence, deploying intelligent solutions, and thinking differently about what FOW really unlocks for their agencies.

The future of work, in the context of this pandemic, could very well be the future of the world.