e-government and e-commerce

Thanks to epractice.eu I’ve been made aware in the latest of a series of papers by Hans Jochen Scholl and Karine Barzilai-Nahon from the The Information School at the University of Washington that was presented to the IFIP E-government 2010 conference. The paper entitled “Siblings of a different kind: E-Government and E-Commerce” documents what we’ve always instinctively known, that although there can be some cross-fertilization, the two are rather different.

The paper has examined the comparative literature seeking the differences between the two from a largely internal perspective. Whilst there were structural differences in the approaches identified, it was also found that the respective CIO’s had differing approaches. Those in the private sector looking at simplifying processes, improving services, having effective relations with senior executives, preventing intrusions and  implementing IT architecture, whilst those in the public arena preferring architecture, cultural change, hiring skilled staff and streamlining business processes, in that order. For me the differences between simplifying and streamlining processes, along with the lack of focus on improving services indicate things have to change in government! The authors do recognise that government is challenged by “statutes, regulations and laws”, along with “bureaucratic inertia, turf protection, or unwillingness to collaborate”. However, one would have thought the politicians could do something about this if they weren’t stymied by their own turf wars and power struggles!

The paper also identifies poorer information quality in the public sector compared with the private one. Which, if that is the case,  we need to do something about rather quickly.

This isn’t an easy read, being a comparison of the literature, but if the revelations are correct, it’s time to ring out some changes!

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