Just back from the GovTech conf in South Africa. Very interesting to see how eGov is still a hype there. Impressive organization (thanks!). Lots of money spent in the event: just to give you an idea, we had an opera on the first night, parties with live music every night, and everybody (1500 people!) received a webcam and a 2giga memory stick. All offered by the vendors. Uhm.
However, one can find some cracks in the armour, some uncertainty emerging. People laughed a lot when I quoted this CIO of a regional government in Italy saying:
“we need an exit strategy from eGovernment”
The title of the conference was “collaborate-innovate-deliver”. As usual, the title reflect better what we miss than what we have. There is a feeling that eGovernment hasn’t delivered – so far.
The first to realize this are the politicians. I was very impressed by the Minister for Public Service and her collaborators.
She made strong”reality checks” and was somehow the critical voice, with respect to all other speakers who were more “hype”. The sentences struck me, because of the context where they were given:
“innovation exists only when implemented”
“there is a conference euphoria, with lots of talk and enthusiasm but then little implementation”
“with 6 million spent in computer you could feed X children”.
I talked a lot with people in the ministry about web2.0 and innovation in public sector, they seem very interested and I hope we can do something together. They certainly share somehow this feeling of disappointment towards the impact of eGovernment.
Another interesting chat I had was with Graham Taylor of OpenForumEurope. South Africa is apparently very advanced in terms of pro-open source policies. We realized how big a change we have seen in recent years, with a feeling that Microsoft is now somehow the weak player in the game. At least it was at this conference.
Finally, my presentation was very similar to the one I gave in Lisbon (see on slideshare). The only new thing I recommend is slide 20.
Also, the organisers provided all delegates with a device to answer to questions posed by the speaker. I had some interesting answers:
- 40% of people used RSS readers, while does who didn’t mostly did not know what it was. So we can say “RSS: if you know it, you use it”.
- the impact of web2.0 is perceived mainly in the front office
- the leading force will be individual citizens, not civil society/government/industry.
Finally: yes, the key impact perceived for web2.0 is on fighting corruption. We were right!