The Challenges and Opportunities of Digitization in Public Institutions

Public institutions all over the world are undergoing a process of digitization. 

While the public sector has historically lagged behind the private sector in terms of digital transformations, governments are now implementing new technologies at a record pace.

While approaches vary from country to country, most governments are incorporating a digital strategy with one or more of the following goals in mind: 

  • Higher effectiveness and efficiency 
  • Improved sustainability 
  • Creating a more egalitarian and fair society 
  • Increased focus on citizen necessities 

Read on to learn about the different challenges and opportunities in the digitization of public administration.

Opportunity 1: More Personalized Services

The future of public administrations is expected to look much more personalized than how it is currently structured. In important areas such as healthcare, the use of data analytics and information sharing make it much more possible to provide personalized services like individualized medicine or medical care.

Challenge 1: Cybersecurity Threats

With a more connected digital world, it also becomes harder to safeguard and protect private information. Due to the fact that public institutions deal with a significant amount of sensitive public data, cybercrime will be a growing risk for governments as they digitalize.

Opportunity 2: Increased Trust

Trust is a crucial factor to consider within the public sector. Innovative digital technologies such as blockchain, help to protect data, reduce fraud, and minimize abuse. Another way to promote trust and collaboration between governments and civil society is through Open Government Data. This type of digital strategy helps to create value for citizens by making government data more accessible, usable, and transparent.

Challenge 2: Public Institution Capacity and Culture

The digitization of public administration may be at odds with the working culture or capacity of many public institutions. Governments are known for operating with many bureaucratic and formal procedures, which means that certain civil institutions may struggle to adjust their approach to a new more digital strategy. Technologies are expected to improve existing institutions, but not replace them entirely. As a consequence, implementing digital approaches in already malfunctioning areas will only cause more inefficiencies.

Opportunity 3: Strengthened Feedback Flows

Digital technologies provide more opportunities for users to provide feedback to public service providers. This can be accomplished through mobile-based feedback mechanisms or by making government data more understandable and available for the average citizen. 

Challenge 3: Process Complexity

Many government processes involve a significant degree of complexity and different steps. Although online systems can make these operations more efficient, some websites may be confusing and complicated to first-time users. In addition, certain countries may not have the necessary technological literacy to engage with new technologies.