July 16, 2012 | Written by: sietze-dijkstra
The IBM Global CEO Study 2012, “Leading through Connections” is based on face-to-face conversations with more than 1,700 CEOs from 64 countries and 18 industries, including 176 senior government and public officials representing 34 countries. The study reveals three imperatives impacting geographies and industries: Empowering employees through values; engaging customers and citizens as individuals; and amplifying innovation with partnerships.
In our conversations, we found that senior government officials envisioned significant changes in the channels they utilize to connect with citizens. According to them, social media would become an important channel of engagement — 59% of officials expect to use the channel over the next 3-5 years compared to just 14 percent today.
Government leaders expect a significant change in the way governments are communicating with their citizens. In my opinion, there is no other organization in the world which knows more about their customers than Government. Governments know your ID, how much you pay in taxes, whether you are entitled to benefits, whether you have kids, etc. Facebook is certainly jealous of the quantity of information that governments have about individuals.
There is considerable opportunity for governments to extract greater value and insight from this data. Currently just 34% of government officials report their organization as being good at translating insight into action, compared to 57% of outperforming CEOs in the global sample.
So what are Governments doing with all this data? Are they tailoring their government services to the needs of their citizens, taxpayers and businesses? In most cases, the answer is no, they are not.
Of course, there are exceptions. Some taxpayers get their annual tax bill offered by the government. In other cases, beneficiaries are pointed to entitlements by social service agencies. The ability of Governments to use data from private companies like Telecoms for criminal investigation purposes is such an example. However, the majority of government organizations are still acting in silos and are not yet prepared for a huge transformation in the way the citizens expect to communicate. They argue that current legislation and privacy protection are big hurdles for getting this in place, but often this is being used as an excuse to do nothing. (As an aside, IBM was ahead of the curve when in 2004 we created a white paper that addressed this topic, The Big Lie about Transparency.)
The big question is who should lead this transformation, of which 59% of the people interviewed expect to happen? Without political visionary leadership, combined with execution power across government silos, not a lot will happen on this front. What will help is the global movement regarding Open Government and Open Data. This will put more pressure on Government institutions to collaborate, clean up the data and become more transparent to society.
There is a great amount of progress to be made before a mature Open Government stage will be reached. The next step is to be pro-active towards citizens and businesses and provide tailor-made services which are fitting to their needs, while driving cost efficiency in the back office with shared services and collaboration. Minimizing the reinvention of the wheel by leveraging successful front runners and best practices is the name of the game. It will take time and hard work, but most Governments will get there at the end.