Brainstorm November 2017 Issue: Special Focus - SITA

Setting the tone for SA's ICT direction

About a month after we produced the last Brainstorm Special Focus on SITA, back in early 2015, the then-CEO Freeman Nomvalo left. It was a shame for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the fact that the publication suddenly seemed a little dated highlights the drawback of print media compared to the quick-to-update internet content. Of course, print does offer other benefits that can outweigh those of the internet. And, secondly, following a series of short-lived appointments before him, Nomvalo had been in the job of CEO for around two years, thus providing much-needed stability. With his frank assessments of the state of the organisation, he seemed, at least from the outside, to be doing a good job. Following his departure, there was an air of uncertainty about the state’s IT agency and the oft-referenced ‘turnaround strategy’.

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Fast forward two years, and we’re finalising the 2017 edition of the Special Focus. In it, the now not-so-new CEO Dr Setumo Mohapi has provided a similarly honest opinion of the current state of the organisation he presides over. His assessment tends to agree with the popularly held view (and Nomvalo’s) that SITA had not been performing optimally in the past; that it had not been providing value to state entities. One difference between the 2015 edition and this one, is that the phrase ‘turnaround strategy’ doesn’t seem to come up anymore. Things just seem to have moved on without reference to the fabled strategy. One example is the cloud. Perhaps surprisingly to those outside of the government ICT space, SITA is spearheading the government’s move into the cloud and a number of instances of cloud operations are already live.

Another example, and something that talks to the ICT sector topic of the bimodal approach to digital transformation, is how Mohapi has started to create a new solutions-driven, innovation-friendly energy within the organisation. Following an internal hackathon designed to identify ways to improve SITA last year, Mohapi moved all volunteers who participated in the hackathon to the e-government department. This strategy was designed to recognise the people who had the right mindset, but it also spurred on those other employees who wanted to join the department to look at ways within their own sphere of the organisation where things could be improved. His quote from the article on page 20 summarises nicely the approach to evolve SITA: “Modernise the underlying system, change the culture and draw in the talent.”

As well as the above, the stories in this publication look at SITA’s philosophy towards security and the emphasis placed on GovTech as a key tool in its strategic engagement with stakeholders. You’ll also find the stories on the winners of the 2016 Public Service ICT awards, which recognise the inroads being made by the public sector and civil society to improve the way ICT is harnessed in the name of service delivery.

Happy reading!

Adrian Hinchcliffe

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