Time to Market Matters – Why I Wrote Government Digital

Time to Market Matters – Why I Wrote Government Digital

Posted on October 23 by Alex Benay in Non-fiction, Recent Releases
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Think of how you did your banking ten years ago, or rented a movie, or bought a book. Now think of how you accomplish these tasks today. The digital revolution has changed almost every aspect of our daily lives, but our interactions with government have largely stayed the same.

Government Digital: The Quest to Regain Public Trust looks at how governments must adjust to our new digital economy – or risk being left behind. Governments must look at leveraging technology to provide seamless services to citizens online, through multiple channels – be it their phone, social media platforms, digital assistants, or even the smart appliances in their home.

How do we get there?

The public sector needs to think bigger and act quicker. In the startup community, a great deal of emphasis is placed on time to market. Similar thinking must now be adopted by governments. The public sector can no longer rely on policies and practices from an analogue era that mean it takes four to five years for change to happen.

The digital revolution has drastically altered the pace of change, and governments need to adapt. Procurement timelines need to shift from three to five years to six to 12 months, and governments as a whole need to be more agile in their approach.

Internationally, Estonia is a great example of a country that quickly changed their legislation in order to prepare for the digital economy. From a national digital ID program, to encouraging global startups to make Estonia their place of business via e-citizenship, Estonia has established itself as a world leader in digital government. The economic benefits of this approach are easy to see: the small country with a population of 1.3 million currently boasts four ‘unicorns’ (tech companies valued over $1 billion).

Another example of how time to market matters is in our very own backyard. Markham, Ontario is home to General Motors’ autonomous vehicle research centre for North America. However, Ontario was slow to adjust legislation to allow for testing of autonomous vehicles, so south of the border Arizona and California have reaped the economic benefits of becoming North America’s testing grounds for self-driving vehicles.

In emerging technology, South Korea was one of the first countries to pass legislation concerning the development and distribution of Intelligent Robots. This act was passed in 2008, way back when many people still considered smart robots to belong in the realm of science fiction. Today, South Korea has become a leader in robotics, and has sold more robots than any other country on the planet.

These examples, and others (Malta and cryptocurrency, China and artificial intelligence) should have governments around the world looking into how their legislation and policies can quickly change to accommodate a shift to the digital economy in a way that respects the rights of its citizens. It’s a fascinating conversation, and one I’m happy to be a part of with Government Digital.

Alex Benay

Posted by Dundurn Guest on March 1, 2017
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Alex Benay

Alex Benay is the Chief Information Officer of the Government of Canada. Previously, he was the President and CEO of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation (now called Ingenium — Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation). He is also the author of Canadian Failures: Stories of Building Toward Success. He lives in Ottawa.