GovInsider’s annual flagship event, the Festival of Innovation, aims to dive deep into the innovations that have not just kept government agencies afloat, but have helped create ripples of impact across the finance, sustainability, design, and healthcare sectors. This year, the in-person event will be taking place from 13 to 14 July 2022 at Raffles City Convention Centre, and is free for all public sector officials to attend.

Joining us at the Festival this year is Siim Sikkut, the former Government CIO of Estonia and current Managing Partner of Digital Nation, a digital advisory network from Estonia. He will be speaking at the Citizen-centricity at the heart of digital government panel, happening on 13 July at 10 am.

Sikkut led the digital government and digital policy in the Republic of Estonia for the past decade and has been recognised as one of the world’s TOP20 most influential people in digital government by Apolitical. Under his charge, Estonia launched the groundbreaking e-Residency programme in 2014. This is a government-issued digital identity and status which grants programme participants access to the country’s business environment, allowing them to start an EU-based company and manage it from anywhere in the world, entirely online.

Most recently, Sikkut published a book titled ‘Digital Government Excellence: Lessons from Effective Digital Leaders”. 

  1. Tell us more about you! Which organisation are you from and what do you do?

I am Managing Partner of Digital Nation, a digital advisory network originating from Estonia, and on a mission to build future-ready societies around the world. Previously, I had the privilege and hard task of leading Government of Estonia to next levels in digital transformation as the Government CIO for 5 years. So, now we are helping other governments to transform, with Estonia’s hands-on experience and global best practices.

  1. Can you share the most fulfilling or meaningful project you were involved in recently?

Digital Nation must be it! We started the company in February 2022 to see if we would have traction – and we’ve had a rollercoaster few months trying to catch up with demand. There is hunger from hands-on, practitioner-to-practitioner advice and this is exactly what we bring.

As Government CIO, my most thrilling recent endeavour was to get #bürokratt vision together and off the ground into delivery – the government is on the way to make all its services and information available through virtual assistants in the next few years.

  1. What is an innovative project in government that you were most excited about this past year? This can be up-and-coming digital tools, or a new way of work that your organisation has implemented.

I am excitedly looking at how governments around the world are starting to apply AI in public sector in earnest. Estonia was an early pioneer in this (even if late to the game compared to global tech companies), and now others are joining. This prompted us in Digital Nation to even start a special AI programme to help governments and countries go AI-way the best.

  1. What is a new frontier that you believe governments today should explore further, and how do you think it can change the way governments work or help you better serve citizens?

I do not believe in jumping to new frontiers only all the time. I am more keen on how to really scale out the old frontiers – for example, systematically transform our existing services end-to-end and to as best as possible. This takes a culture, practice, mechanisms for constant innovation and this is much more resultful in the end. Constant delivery of improvements. But it is easier said than done. It is way easier to do the next sexy thing than hard tedious work every day.

However, if I have to choose one new frontier, then I already shared my excitement for all things AI in government. Not because it is cool tech (which it is) but we see it already bringing so much practical benefit, in an age of narrow AI.

  1. What does the government of the future look like to you?

Invisible. Government as bureaucracy should disappear into background with seamless and proactive services. Government as a community steward and the helper upon dire need can come to the fore this way, also helped by digital means and tools.

  1. Who or what inspires you?

The doers of digital government – who just get going and experiment, and try again if there is resistance or if it does not immediately work out. And who then deliver constant improvement to people’s lives this way.

Hear more from Siim Sikkut on how government leaders can best nurture the public officers of tomorrow, as well as from other government leaders on how they are pushing the boundaries of innovation at the Festival of Innovation, happening on 13 – 14 July. Register now!