Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Digital disruption

Government is a concept and practice that has been exercised in some form for thousands of years. Technology can be defined as, “the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial arts, engineering, applied science, and pure science.”[1] Throughout the centuries these two elements of society have evolved. During different time periods one would progress faster than the other, the two never quite being in step with each other.  During the last 50 years technology has outpaced government at an astounding speed.  Government was always forced to attempt to adapt to technological advances. The question now is, will government embrace technology in order to perform at an optimum level for its citizens?
In the article, A tale of two countries: the digital disruption of government,, the author discusses the lack of significant, useful immersion of technology in the practice of the Australian and British government. Governments could utilize technology to streamline services, collect data, perform vital functions, and enhance the lives of its citizens.  According to the author, the Australia government online strategy from 2000 and the 2013 policy for E-Government and the Digital Economy had no reference to its citizenry, their needs and experiences. There was only a single reference to overhauling common services such as payments. This smacks of a government that has little interest in involving its citizens in the actual formulation and practices of government. One consideration is that governments may not be willing to sacrifice some of their controlling powers that would enable citizens to participate to a greater degree. To that, I would say government exists for the citizenry and is empowered by the citizenry.
The business sector has proven time and time again the benefits that can be derived through customer participation. Business can more accurately determine what the market desires for goods and services, therefore minimizing waste and providing what the consumers actually desire. Corporate giants such as Amazon and EBay have not only opened the doors for consumer participation, they relish in it to the point that their corporate strategy and business model has become a monumental success. These successes have come at a cost. Corporations place vast resources into the development of technology and its strategic utilization. They have seen the achievements technology and consumer participation can produce and therefore are willing to risk the capitol in order to achieve the success.
If government would be willing to take the same risk and commit the capital expenditures and inspire citizen involvement, the rewards would come. Government could define a more focused agenda to address societal needs by simply allowing the people to speak and be heard; let the citizens work with the powers that be. Through this method they can addresses issues jointly that are important to the people while requesting the assistance from the populace to solve the problems. Innovation is as much a part of society as the people are.  In this day and age, governments need to embrace their constituents and utilize the intellect and ingenuity that they possess; if it chooses not to, than those gifts may be used against it!

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