There is a time in all things when an idea is simply too early and a time when an idea is perfectly suited to execute. I believe that the time to transform government delivery of services with citizens is now, finally, upon us. I say this as a former Government CIO who tried to stand it up too early, a Global Executive running Microsoft’s Government Industry who Co-Created the Citizen Service Platform in 13 regions across the world and an SVP at Salesforce who tried to get the platform business ignited in the Public Sector a few years back. The idea and the ideals of those organizations were well targeted and met with a degree of success, but the time was not right for the revolution to take hold. That time is now and this post will discuss why.
Revolution versus Rebellion
I have posted before on my theory that Rebellions are Easy, Revolutions are hard. I believe that each are needed, but we are fools if we confuse one for the other. Rebellions do not hold. Well planned and aligned revolutions do. I have concluded that much of this can be timing based, especially in the complexity that is the Public Sector. For a revolution to hold a number of complicated interests need to align, including timing. I believe that 2017 is the year toe execute hard into the opportunity to Co-Create services in Public Service based upon an Open Government Platform. And I believe Cities will be the ignition point for the revolution.
State Needed to be Ready
Governments have been accused of being slow. Um, sometimes very true. Sometimes not. But without true readiness in Government, Platforms will not hold, Co-Creation will not work across government. Wherever this revolution is rooted, the Government itself will need to be ready. Leadership will need to be growth and future oriented. Legislative bodies need to be aligned and support needs to be bi-partisan. Oddly, there needs to be failed attempts in the rearview mirror. There needs to be a deep desire at the political elite level for the radical shift, Kaikaiku, not simply incremental change, Kaizan. The interesting thing is that this attitude crosses all party lines. While not in each government, the ethic seems to be alive on the right and on the left. Often times driven by financial dire straights. Other times by political rough times. Regardless, States have gone through the realization that current solutions are non-sustainable, gone through trials and losses and have seen examples where platforms work well. I believe they are ready.
New Zealand is a great example of radical orientation in terms of change initiatives, while retaining a sense of needed stability to move forward. The Key Administration laid the ground work for sustainable change in light of difficult times. And even when PM Key stood down, the revolution was planned to continue.
Infrastructure Needed to be Ready
When folks busy in the Gov2.0 movement first started evangelize, it was simply too early from an infrastructure perspective. There were dark spots in carrier coverage and broadband penetration. The entire Northern Tier was absent. Cloud computing was nascent and disintermediation was new. Since then, network ubiquity has been established in most of the developed world.
Voters Needed to be Ready
That new infrastructure, especially the cloud and mobile devices (smartphones) was simply too new for citizens to have been demanding that services move. They had heard the promise of these new ideas, but none of them had been proven. The public sector trails the private sector for very good reasons. The mission critical nature of most of what government does simply keeps citizens and taxpayers cautious on adoption until the private sector can prove the new procedures and technology work. Voters have now seen it work. Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Amazon, the list goes on and on and voters and citizens have not only become ready, they have already become users. the demand for the services are there now.
Bureaucracy Needed to be ready
The folks that keep government running view themselves as often the last line of defense when it comes to protecting the civic world. They don’t simply want to see demand, but real efficiency. For instance credit cards were demanded, but processing of them was still far more expensive than the lockbox process they traditionally used. All of those pieces have now been turned in the right direction. Efficiency is in favor of the new process. The security concerns that bureaucrats had has now been overcome by significant cloud service provider expenditures on securing the infrastructure.
Frontier Private Sector Services Needed to Mature
The private sector originally was just at phase one of the development of new revolutionary systems. They were proving concept, not focusing on getting product market fit perfect. They had to make many mistakes, adjust and get them right. They needed to show that through this consumers would stay dedicated to a new platform and they have now done that. The days of consumers being afraid of regular application updates are over.
Ideology Creates Conflict, Alignment of Interests Creates Success
When early governments started this work it was viewed as partisan on the side of whichever administration pushed it first. There was, however, little difference between a liberal and a conservative government as a platform. it took time for both parties to realize that this kind of solution helps political parties focus on their own objectives, while the efforts themselves were non-political. The diversity of governments embracing Government as a Platform proves this to be no longer an issue. Now if we work to align interests, the atmosphere will be accurate to push the effort forward.
Start with Co-Creation in Business Process in Need
Transportation seems well built as a business process in need of repair. The co-creation of services leveraging private sector proven cloud technologies and co-creating new services would solve problems across the entire political spectrum. By lowering the cost of service provision, we lower the cost of government. By leveraging existing public transit into new solutions combining these services with popular on demand transportation services we increase utilization of mass transit which in turn reduces congestion and improves the movement of commerce. And while students, workers, executives and families get from point A to point B in a more efficient and quicker way, we also reduce carbon emissions as a happy side effect. The new private sector structures have been proven worldwide and all of the infrastructure exists to be successful.
Start in SLED
While National programs may come, starting in State Local and Educational contexts may be best suited. Less resistance and at least the perception of non-partisan progress makes smaller units of government a better starting place. And to get to scale it certainly makes sense to start in large cities and regional governments. With multiple fleet audits having occurred recently there are multiple places to start looking.
Create Lasting Structures, Budgets and Authority
Now the preaching on revolution not rebellion. This isnt about knocking down whats out there. Or shouting over others. This requires a ton of background work to ensure there are cross party solutions built. Budgets are identified and authorized. Processes are built. Actual power is given to actual Ministries and Departments to get this work done. The revolution is now.