Italy plans to run its government like Amazon

And it's hired an ex-Amazon chief to serve- probono - for two years.

After 29 years at Amazon and Apple, Diego Piacentini has taken up a job in the civil service. The former Senior Vice President at Amazon was recently asked to lead digital innovation by the Prime Minister of Italy. Piacentini has since published a rallying call for cross-cutting talents to join his team, and received over 3,500 CVs within 12 days. “Without an enthusiastic and competent pool of talents, I will not go too far”, he admitted in a Medium blog post. He will serve as Commissioner for Digital Italy for three years, and work pro bono for two years, leading a new Digital Transformation Team. Piacentini has outlined his vision to build “modern digital products” in public service delivery. His aim is to “make public services for citizens accessible in an easy manner, via a mobile first approach”, he writes. The team will also "support the different central and local government departments in making the best and most data driven decisions", he wrote. To achieve his vision, Piacentini laid out five tasks for the new unit. First, it will coordinate across different agencies and stakeholders to manage digital platforms. The unit will "manage existing and future digital programs in an integrated manner with an agile methodology and an open data approach", Piacentini wrote. Second, it will identify new digital and tech transformation initiatives. Third, it will become the authoritative centre for digital innovation competencies, sharing guidelines, directives and opinions between government agencies. Fourth, it will create a talent pool of developers and designers who can work on improving the Government’s digital services. It will "create a community of developers and designers who can contribute to the development of Application Programming Interfaces", he wrote. Fifth, it will lay the digital architecture groundwork and keep up with tech trends. The will build an "evolving architecture that will grow over time and will stay on top of emerging technological trends", he wrote. Piacentini is working with Paolo Barberis, Innovation Adviser to the Italian Prime Minister to scale Digital Italy. “After such a unique learning experience [in Apple and Amazon] and many years away from my home country, I have decided to ‘give back’,” Piacentini stated. This year, Italy ranked 25th out of 28 EU member states in the Digital Economy and Society Index, according to the European Commission. The country is on a long road to change. “Italy cannot hope to fully grasp the benefits of the digital economy as long as one third of its population refrains from using the Internet regularly”, the report states. Image by Chris Yunker, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0