Less e-paper!

June 28, 2011

Within the new Singaporean eGov2015 masterplan is an interesting concept that I hope will catch on elsewhere – “the government will continue to streamline the number of transactions, reduce the steps required to complete them, and where possible, eliminate such transactions altogether”. Imagine that, eliminating an unnecessary transaction! How many of those must we all face?

At the same Egov Global Exchange conference Steve Bittinger, Gartner’s research director for government research, is reported to have identied the commoditization of IT infrastructure and services, and seamless socialization and collaboration, as being among the current key trends impacting the public sector and that with movement toward shared services and the cloud, government IT departments will also face changes, forecasting that within four years about half of government shared services and centralization initiatives will be supplemented by public or community clouds, resulting in job reductions for infrastructure and operational services of 20 percent. This is something accepted and trying to be planned for in the Socitm ‘Planting the Flag‘ strategy for the UK. What we must concentrate on is improving services during these massive changes.

Marathon not a sprint

October 3, 2010

A somewhat insightful post from one who should know comes to us from Singapore via Oklahoma. Mei Lin Fung blogs on evidence-based Customer Experience Management, employing her learning in Asia and the USA. I last considered Singapore in June 2010 as the Island of Dreams.

Mei Lin proposes, from her knowledge, that transformational government only succeeds if many things, including the practices of previous decades, are changed at the same time in order for the new technologies to make a positive difference for the citizen. She also describes Singapore’s approach as having moved on from “Government knows best” to a new “Gov-with-you” one. However, when she promotes the amount spent by Singapore on its initiatives, whilst stating how much it would be per citizen in the U.S. she fails to give the actual figure spent, I suspect a federated government, as in the USA, may make it more difficult to calculate and deliver compared with Singapore’s central control.

Mei Lin also states that a key strategy is to employ the social media channels like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to engage with citizens, which again may be easier with Singapore’s smaller population, compactness  and ‘hybrid’ democracy unlike the many-layered democracies of the west.

The key message from Mei Lin is that e-government requires a shared vision with all the stakeholders and that whilst developing it is a challenge, it can be rewarding.

Island of dreams

June 20, 2010

The Head of Civil Service and Permanent Secretary in Singapore, Mr Peter Ho, has outlined the next Singapore e-Government Masterplan. In a speech at the iGOV Global Forum on 14 June 2010, he stated:

” Singapore’s next e-Government masterplan will facilitate and enable this major shift from a “Gov-to-You” mindset to a “Gov-With-You” mindset – to fuel innovation and to encourage co-creation. The vision for the next masterplan is of a collaborative government that co-creates and connects with the people.”

Thus, with Singapore’s excellent record of developing and using electronic government, they are now putting weight behind the concept of co-creation. However, they are not stupid enough to think they can rely purely on that, since they also note that:

“But as we push the envelope to exploit technology, we must also look out for the pitfalls. At the end of the day, technology is just an enabling tool that can equally be exploited for either the good or the bad. For instance, while the Internet provides an excellent platform for disseminating information and getting feedback from the ground, public officers need to develop the instinct to separate the “noise” from genuine feedback. There is also the danger of succumbing to pressure from the vocal minority and doing what is popular as opposed to what is right for the country.”

They are also quite clear that not everyone can or will use e-government and so are allowing for it:

“We also need to be mindful of the new digital divide separating the digital natives and the digital migrants. There may be segments of the population that may not be able to, or prefer not to use, such new media for engaging the government. So we should exploit the new media in such as way that no one is left out or left behind.”

In e-government terms, if no other, Singapore is surely the island where dreams might become reality.

Complaining culture

March 19, 2009

Whilst I am encouraging the use of citizen feedback to bring about engagement and change, I think it sad when complaints reach the stage of ‘complaints culture’ as in the Singapore Complaints Choir or the orginal Helsinki one.

I can only assume their complaints weren’t observed or they were just a bunch of whingers…

Old Australian joke: Question – How do you tell when a airplane has landed full of poms (UK immigrants)? Answer – because it carries on whining after the engines have been turned off!

Without being totally anti-complainant there is a web site worth considering:


Along with a fairly lengthy private-sector publication from June 2008 from the Aberdeen Group available for download via the Clicktools site entitled: Customer Feedback Management – mind if I ask you a few questions – lots of ideas and actions to play with!