Explainer: The shift to digital governance in the GCC
Now Reading
Explainer: The shift to digital governance in the GCC

Explainer: The shift to digital governance in the GCC

Regional governments are rapidly integrating digital transformation processes into their systems to boost their economies, opines Liam Maxwell, director, Government Transformation at Amazon Web Services


What are the key trends shaping the future of digital governments in the GCC?
Several key trends will contribute to shaping the future of digital governments in the GCC, most of which revolve around an open approach. It has already been established that open approaches work faster and will benefit digital governments tremendously moving forward.

In terms of related trends, these include open standards due to large scale internet usage; open source because it accelerates operations and practices; open data as this helps identify what works and what does not; and open markets as these can generate significant economic growth.

Some of the fundamental components of digital transformation include continually measuring the transition to establish where success is being driven, identifying the areas which require improvement, and enacting change via implementation. The requirement to change based on user experience is right at the heart of digital reform. Another trend that will shape the future of digital governments regionally is monitoring user interactions and acting accordingly to implement change where necessary. In the Covid-19 environment, we have witnessed governments move quickly and effectively at scale, with data helping people make policy decisions.

At the same time, we have seen significant acceleration in public and private sector cloud spending across the region due to the pandemic, which will increase as the far-reaching benefits of cloud become more and more apparent. According to a recent survey by IDC in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa, 51 per cent of public sector CIOs have spent more on public cloud software-as-a-service than originally planned, while 38 per cent spent more on public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service than they anticipated. In terms of hybrid cloud, 55 per cent of CIOs spent their allocated pre-pandemic budget and 34 per cent spent more than they planned.

Public sector CIOs are aiming to do more with less or the same, with fewer resources and smaller budgets. Looking ahead, this trend will likely shape the future of digital government. As per IDC’s survey, 50 per cent of CIOs are shifting their budgets towards digital initiatives in government, healthcare, and education, 34 per cent are pursuing approaches towards greater OPEX spending and reduced CAPEX spending, and 27 per cent aim to spend more on automation to significantly reduce costs.

Are there any regulatory challenges for governments?
There is an opportunity now for governments to tackle regulatory challenges and reap the benefits of next-generation IT practices. A host of cloud-first policies have been adopted worldwide in recent years in order to fuel innovation and allow government organisations to focus on their missions in better serving citizens.

In the Middle East, Bahrain adopted a forward-thinking national Cloud First policy, with the aim of reducing costs, increasing security, and increasing productivity and agility to improve citizen services. By adopting the policy, the Bahrain Information and eGovernment Authority (iGA), which is responsible for moving all government services online and is also responsible for ICT procurement for the government, has helped to reduce the procurement process for new technology from months to less than two weeks, and reduced IT infrastructure operation expenditure by up to 80 per cent.

How has Covid-19 changed the timelines of innovation?
Because of the widespread actions to mitigate the pandemic’s impact and adapt to an unprecedented situation, innovation timelines have been accelerated dramatically. A prime example from our
perspective is the use of data to help make policy decisions, which had already been a topic of conversation for several years prior to the outbreak.

In light of what happened around the world, as much as a decade’s worth of reform transpired within five months – and the speed of action and change that we have witnessed in the new normal environment would be di cult to put behind us at this stage.

Speed, scale, resilience, and data are all components of innovation, and these will be fundamental to harnessing innovation moving forward. Speed is now an expectation, government services are for
everybody and scale is essential, resilience is pivotal to acting quickly and effectively, and data is used to measure what works. The future of IT in governments entails these four areas, which will
collectively drive innovation, deliver continuously improving services, and provide newfound value to government services, customers, and society.

The focus on digital transformation in the GCC public sector has also accelerated due to the pandemic, which is another reason behind faster innovation. Again, IDC’s META CIO survey sheds light
on this. Although only 20 per cent of regional CIOs have initiated completely new digital transformation initiatives to meet different customer and operational requirements, 51 per cent have increased their efforts in this direction and 49 per cent have continued pursuing related activities as planned at the start of 2020.

What are the primary technologies that will pave the way for regional governments?
Open source and the cloud will pave the way for regional governments in the years ahead. Open source drives transparency, proactivity, and productivity; increases innovation and collaboration; improves service delivery; and results in better time to market.

Services can be built that are clearer, faster, simpler, and drive positive change through open source – meaning regional governments can fundamentally transform digitally. In terms of the cloud, most modern governments are already moving towards cloud-first policies and establishing whether the cloud can be used to deliver the desired change.

Because the cloud is a dedicated, custom, and permissive technology, it effectively delivers services that can be changed and modified quickly, and having a cloud-first policy means identifying whether you can use the cloud to deliver the change you want to have.

You might also like


Scroll To Top