Description: Why building a successful digital model for the Canadian government is a necessity filled with exciting opportunities.
Date: June 11, 2018
Resolution: HD/720 (90.1 Mb)
Digital technologies—for the last 50 years in, really, right now—are not going on an S-curve. They are going in an exponential curve. Digitization impacts every program, every service and every job. We are in the digital age. That's what both makes it a bigger opportunity for government today, but also much more than an opportunity, an absolute necessity to move aggressively in this area.
It feels like a time at the moment, in the Canadian government, where we have a real opportunity to look at what we are doing now in Canada and say, how can we make this even better, even more quickly?
People work in an increasingly open cycle; we have an open system of innovation where several people can work together. In the digital world, geographic boundaries no longer apply.
The digital model is just, I think, a radically different way of thinking about operations and government in general. So, I think there are three major components to it: the digital model needs to be open; it needs to have applied learning, constantly learning; and it needs to be adaptive.
The combination of things that have happened so far puts us in a great position to move forward with the next steps. Canada is currently number two in the world in terms of the Open Data Barometer, which is a really fundamental foundation for how you move forward with digital government.
The things that I would really like us to focus on over the coming few years are how do we put the users of services at the heart of how they are developed, and then getting to a steady approach where we expect to be iterating and developing services constantly through their development. To enable that type of digital transformation to happen, to enable us to get to a position where we can measure the successful outcomes of services, we need to support that by a culture change which enables people to act in that way.
All the old conditions that existed in an analog world are disappearing or no longer exist in a digital world. So, if we're talking about what's different between them, we're really talking about a difference in human culture.
Absolutely, it requires a culture shift. This notion of having a digital mindset is probably the most important thing, and you're going to have a lot of people who are going to say, "We can't do that in government. We can't move forward in that way, that's not how we're set up. We can't, we can't, we can't." We just need a lot more people that are going to say, "No, we can!"
That culture shift can start in a lot of different places, but the place it has the most power is when it starts from the top.
So, if there are senior leaders who can show by example how we can change a culture, that is incredibly powerful, and it empowers people throughout an organization to do the same thing.
So, we need to embed a culture led from the most senior levels of government, which says, it is okay to be open. You are not going to build a successful digital service unless you go out there and you talk to your users about what that will look like.
Digitization does not necessarily mean that we're automating all of our processes. That said, there are a lot of advantages to automation. Of course, with automation, there are risks. However, today, there is as much of a risk that someone leaves a piece of paper with information on it on a park bench as there is in the digital world. Even if the government decides not to do it, there are still other sectors moving in that direction.
So, sometimes people are cynical about this current era of digital government that we're in; automation is one component of digital. But when you think about digital, you need to think about it in an explosion of certain technologies pulling together.
There is a change curve that continues to accelerate; it's very exponential. I think it's super exciting! The opportunity to collaborate is incredible, and essentially, it's what will allow us to further achieve our public service mandate.
People are civil servants and public servants because they want to do something that makes their country better, and we need to give people the tools to allow them to do that. Making services that work for everybody who use them is a really important part of what government does.
This is THE way to do things from now on. It is not just one of the ways! It is THE primary way.
There's always going to be a little bit of a gap because of lack of competitive pressures. What's important is for the government to be a fast follower in technology and not to be a laggard. We have to move forward to actually provide the kind of services that citizens are looking for.