Remember cloud washing, when vendors were calling any hosted service and application a cloud service? This was very popular 3-5 years ago. Now, customers are much better at seeing through vendor’s marketing hype and recognizing what is really cloud.
But as usual – the next big trend repeats the same cycle. Washing machines are again running at full steam, white washing and branding practically any application or electronic device as something “digital”. Some are satisfied by claiming 5-10 year old e-services as digitalization. So e-business has now become digital business.
Just as there is no official definition of digitalization, there was no regulation 10 years ago saying what you could call an e-service. Still there seems to be rather common understanding of what government e-services are. The Nordic region was at the forefront of public e-services, but this is not the case for digitalization. It is likely that the reason for lagging behind is that when you already have computerized your services to some level, it is considered harder to disrupt and go through a big change again. In reality the situation should be exactly the opposite.
The difference between digital and e-services is interesting. E-services were more like traditional IT – you change paper forms to web-based forms, you move physical contact over a desk to a connection via the web, but you do not re-think and invent a business model or service process. E-services were, and still are, typically provided by the same players as earlier paper based ones, the value chain remaining the same. Digitalization is different.
Going digital can’t be done at slow speed or in a half-hearted fashion. You can, and should of course, limit the scope of a particular digital exercise, but it should start with the big picture. Not just a helicopter view, but with the view of an angel – looking down to the actual process or business from really high-up, so the details won’t obstruct your thinking. Customer behaviour, markets, products, channels, services, competition all should be transformed through digital technologies including e-services. And this has to be done end-to-end, top-to-bottom and vice versa.
Nordic public e-services are now moving to next phase. The Finnish tax agency started with e-services many years ago, with income tax being handled almost completely via the web and automated processes. This adds up to about 1,000 man years for 4.8 million Finnish tax payers – a significant reduction from the 5,000 years in 1991 but still not completely efficient. The tax agency is currently planning to move to a real-time tax process with everything processed in the background, removing the need for web forms in the majority of cases and, by removing the possibility for human errors resulting in more accurate taxation. As well as this, Estonia’s e-Residency – is a flagship example of disruptive thinking in the public sector and one Fujitsu is proud to be helping to deliver. It means that now you can have a digital residency in another country, enabling new ways to do (digital) business without even visiting the country.
So someone will probably design a robot who will get a digital citizenship and will emerge as a first digital Bitcoin millionaire employing thousands of digital employees enabled by Robotic Process Automation. Good topic for a blog but not something we should sit around and wait for. If you wish to learn more about digital disruption and the way to digitalize top-to-bottom in your organization today, I’d recommend reading further opinions from my colleagues at Fujitsu.