Half the government respondents to the survey are looking to digital government to support a combination of transformation and optimization goals. The other half is focusing on a single ambition, either optimization (33 percent) or transformation (17 percent).
Gartner distinguishes five stages on the road to digital transformation: desire, designing, delivering, scaling and harvesting. “Ninety-one percent of government respondents consider themselves at one of the first three stages. These focus on the development and introduction of new services,” said Dean Lacheca, research director at Gartner. “Only 9 percent identify their digital initiatives as being in the later stages. There, the focus is on scaling the service and exceeding the value of comparable nondigital initiatives.”
“Therefore, the survey results indicate a lack of effectiveness by governments at scaling their digital business,” said Lacheca. “We envisage two possible internal barriers. On the one hand, there is misalignment between digital strategy and business priorities. On the other hand, there is lack of urgency and readiness for change.”
A digital business and technology strategy cannot exist on its own. It must be part of a larger business transformation journey. “If strategy and ambition are aligned with business priorities, but progress remains elusive, the focus should be on the urgency and readiness of the organization for digital change,” Lacheca added. “If there is no urgency to act, or if the culture is not ready to accept change, progress will remain slow.”
Increased investment in external ecosystems to boost digital impact
Ecosystems are also key to helping government organizations scale their digital business. Collaboration with partners, including employees, consumers, and service providers, can play a major role in scaling the benefits of digital government.
The survey shows that government respondents already use a range of business ecosystems. Over half of respondents use third-party developers to deliver value to citizens. This figure is substantially higher than that for all the survey respondents (41 percent).
“Government support of services built by third-party developers can be directly linked to open data, open APIs and support for civic technology. This a big step in the right direction,” said Lacheca. “To exploit the full potential of ecosystems, government CIOs should explore new partnerships. Other external ecosystems, like those of startups and citizens themselves, offer tremendous opportunities. Establishing or engaging citizen ecosystems can significantly boost civic engagement. Therefore, it would have a positive impact on society as a whole.”
Governments recognize the importance of digitally skilled staff
What is more, the survey also found that governments are working to improve the digital dexterity of their employees. Forty-eight percent of government respondents rated this critical to the success of their digital business. Nevertheless, 58 percent indicated that they have no formal program to ensure their workforce has the digital skills needed for digital business success.
“A digital workplace program brings together a higher standard of workplace technologies with the development of skills needed to increase digital dexterity,” said Lacheca. “Government CIOs should therefore work with HR to assess the current state of digital dexterity and develop an organization-wide program.”