The Post-Covid-19 “new normal” brings an opportunity for government CIOs to step back and envision their organisation in the new state that will follow. Historically, for many IT organisations, the creation of IT strategies has been a fairly straightforward process.
In the Philippines, the National ICT Ecosystem Framework (NICTEF) was created to set forth a strategic compass, implementation, and communications plan to be achieved by 2022.
In these strategic frameworks or technology masterplans, government CIOs typically review key goals and objectives of their organisations and lines of business. They then craft strategies to meet those needs — including operations, infrastructure, applications, and services — gated by available funding and technologies.
Overall, government IT organisations tend to tread a less straightforward path than their commercial counterparts due to the highly complex nature of their operational environments — financial, governance, structural, function, and socio-political.
Digital government in the Philippines
For the Philippines, the NICTEF had recognised six key areas of sustainable digital government transformations to be pursued. They include:
1. Participatory governance
2. Industry and countryside development
3. Resource-sharing and capacity building through ICT
4. Improved public links and connectivity
5. ICT user protection and information security
6. Enabling and sustainable ICT environment
With Covid-19 contexts however, IDC notes the Philippines government spurring nationwide digital acceleration for pervasive accessibility to health, education, and social welfare sectors; increased automation in critical infrastructure and essential services; and transitioning traditional domestic industries into self-sustaining digital socioeconomic engines.
Digital acceleration and disruption have thus presented a swifter use of advanced technologies (e.g. AI, IoT, Biometrics, Cloud, etc.) and their accompanying disruption and transformation. This has radically transformed traditional government IT strategies: what they need to accomplish, why they matter to IT and program leaders, and how they go about realising their goals while realistically remaining agile to meet constantly changing organisational outcomes.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Philippines’ national government was focused on transforming the nation to a digital economy through various initiatives. These include the Technology Empowerment for Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (Tech4Ed), National Government Portal, Free Wi-fi for all, Digital Farmers Program, National Broadband Plan, Digital Cities, The Integrated/Economic Business Permits and Licensing System, Central Business Portal, and Cybersecurity Management System Project, among many other initiatives.
At the smart city level, city governments were focused on managing high urbanisation in cities with digital initiatives such as public safety projects (e.g. crime prevention, emergency response, threat prevention, and traffic management), water and waste management systems, as well as transportation and traffic management systems.
IT strategies for recovery
Covid-19 has dramatically changed the landscape for many government agencies that are already amid digital transformation. As technology continues to disrupt and change constituents’ expectations at a furious rate, government CIOs are forced to keep up with the post-Covid-19 “new normal”.
The Philippines’ Government CIOs should view this pivotal moment as an opportunity to reset and rethink IT strategies. They should view them as an enterprise framework for creating business/program and digital technology synergies to transform IT and enterprise business and operating models.
IDC puts forth the following recommendations as a recovery guide:
1. Review IT strategies in the context of the “new normal” and digital transformation nuances. Identify potential current states, project future states, and tackle gaps and shortcomings.
2. Design the new IT strategy ecosystem, with all elements and interactions mapped out clearly for all stakeholders, especially non-IT decision makers.
3. Create an ongoing process to identify and review environmental changes that will require new or revised IT strategies.
Gerald Wang is the Head of IDC Asia Pacific Public Sector for IDC Government Insights and IDC Health Insights. In this role, Gerald draws on more than 15 years of research and industry experiences in enterprise IT market research, agile change management and innovation-based consultancy, as well as public speaking experiences across several public sector events. His specialties include managing digital government research and strategy advisories, driving industry-partnerships and knowledge ecosystems, as well as advocating for digital transformation innovations.