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The Public Technologist

Issue 05, H2 2018

Peter Drucker, the famous management consultant and author, once wrote: “The only skill that will be important in the 21st century is the skill of learning new skills. Everything else will become obsolete over time.”
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As we move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, different flavours of technology, such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things, analytics and artificial intelligence, will start fusing together. Where once technologies and their associated specialist skills operated in relative siloes, now they are starting to collide and they must be carefully blended together to support the mandates of our various public sector entities. The need for appropriate skills to bring these technologies together will only continue to grow.
The skills to tame these technologies and the knowledge required to harness them for the benefit of service delivery to citizens is an area that needs desperate attention across the public sector. The strategic-level decision-makers who shape policy, or direct the various public sector entities, must be aware of these technologies, their potential impact and benefits, and how they will shape the economy and society. They must start to determine how to leverage the Fourth Industrial Revolution for the good of citizens and society.
Government IT leaders should be at the forefront of knowing what’s coming and how it can all fit together in order to advise those strategic-level leaders alongside whom they work. They must also determine how to plug the technologies into their organisations to benefit the public sector and citizens.
Then there’s the requirement for those who work at the public sector technology coalface to keep their technical skills sharpened to bend these technologies to our will.
While some may question the spending of valuable public funds on new technologies when a number of public sector entities are facing cashflow challenges and some citizens are lacking basic infrastructure, the need to modernise the public sector as a whole will benefit society and it will be demanded by citizens.
As our country’s youth population grows in size and its constituents mature in age, they will expect government to operate in ways they experience elsewhere in their world.
However, there’s a tragic correlation between rising youth unemployment rates and the age group where fresh IT skills and innovation should come from. We must educate the public what the Fourth Industrial Revolution is all about. Our youth should be riding the wave of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but if we’re not careful, they will get left behind. As the public sector, and as a country, we must address this.
As much as technology brings benefits, the potential that artificial intelligence has, for example, for tackling repetitive tasks, which are often found in jobs on the first rung of a career ladder, could spell disaster for those seeking employment for the first time. We must skill our people sufficiently and position tasks so that Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies augment jobs, not replace them. These technologies must help us to personalise and customise services, and assist with rapid decision-making while giving us time for considered problem-solving to bigger challenges. Technology should encourage collaboration, global competitiveness and inclusivity, but we need the right skills in place to achieve this.
In this edition of the Public Technologist, we look at many of the issues around skills, the Fourth Industrial Revolution and what this could mean for various arms of our public sector, and for society as a whole.
Ultimately, we all need to adapt and learn to grow ourselves and our skills so we can stay relevant and make the most of the opportunities offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
I hope you find the content in this edition insightful, interesting and thought-provoking.
Let’s engage for excellence.

Mandla Mkhwanazi

APP TITLE HTML FlipBook PDF

The Public Technologist

Issue 04, H1 2018

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Issue 02 2017

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