The Public Technologist

Issue 02 2017

Welcome to the second issue of The Public Technologist, produced to coincide with the second meeting of the public Sector ICT Forum, held 31 May 2017 in Johannesburg, focusing on the topic of 'Driving collaboration to improve service delivery'.
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The levels of effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery vary widely across South Africa’s broad range of government institutions. However, collaboration as part of the digital transformation process is critical to improving service delivery across the board. The tone and messaging from those at the top must be correct to empower collaboration and ensure that better services are delivered, irrespective of where that comes from. After you’ve got that right, then you can start looking at the structure so that everyone, whatever their level, can lead in their own area. In the era of digital transformation, collaboration becomes important as a way of harnessing a new set of technical skills and mapping them to these operational and service delivery processes.

We used to require certain skillsets, whether it was COBOL or Microsoft skills. And introduction of suite of enterprise solutions like SAP or Oracle minimise development innovation. However, the technical skills necessary today are taking a different form. Coding is at the core of digital innovation so we need to focus on upskilling developers.

This is where the public sector can bring millennials into the mix. I believe it’s easier for the younger generation to grasp and develop the technical skills required. Collaboration comes when you get these new entrants to the workplace, who aren’t ingrained with the more traditional paper-based ways of working, partnering with those experienced colleagues who better understand the mandate and processes of the institution.

The younger generation are asking why things should be done in a particular way; they are more entrepreneurial in outlook and are looking at things differently. The Public Sector ICT Forum will soon be launching a government focused hackathon called – Govehack, which must establish and support a digital transformation agenda.

The process of a hackathon provides a fundamentally different product because it engages a full community of citizens who purposely collaborate in the real work of their government – in this case, the work of 'reaching for new heights and revealing the unknown'. Hackathons create a mechanism for the public to share feedback and ideas via access to government decision makers. Creative and innovative concepts are introduced that help evolve government to be more efficient and effective.

With younger workers questioning and disrupting age-old traditions there is, of course, the potential for conflict with their longer-serving counterparts. I believe the involvement of change management specialists and HR departments can play its part in moving everyone towards seeing the ultimate benefits of improved service delivery. However, for collaboration and digital transformation to be truly successful, it relies on the buy-in of the institution’s leadership.

The Public Technologist is created as a thought-leadership publication providing coverage into the same areas as the forum event, but tackles them in a somewhat different way. The content of these pages will hopefully prove useful and insightful in seeing how collaboration can improve service delivery. I hope that the content within these pages proves useful, insightful and thought-provoking.

Let’s engage for excellence.

Mandla Mkhwanazi


The Public Technologist

Issue 01 2016