It’s been quite some time since the Passport Seva Project (PSP) has been delivering excellent services to millions of Indians. It is being considered as a big transformation initiative in the eGovernance domain across the globe. I always say, the journey of delivering excellence is a never ending one and innovation is the only way in which it can be sustained over time.
The application is continuously evolving with addition of new functionalities that make the lives of the citizens and the government administrators easier. Innovative thinking is reshaping it with the prime objective of identifying effective and better ways to do everything, small or big. A new focus on outcome-based approach in governance is becoming a norm.
However, a more matured IT driven operating environment is required for broadbased Innovation to become a norm. Without the right base, it may not simply be a sustainable drive. Based on my long association with the PSP, I would like to highlight four key lessons that are important to build a good base:
Think New Business Model
The whole transformation drive may take its own time, but it must start with a holistic blueprint as a guiding element. I have seen many transformation drives reaping suboptimal results as they go piecemeal within the realm of ‘as is’ practices. Ideally one must start from the end users’ perspective instead of what is possible with the IT system as it exists today. For example, citizens want passport service closer to where they, or administration demands a complete visibility on the process. The whole process of determining ways to provide these functionalities takes time and effort, but it’s important to get the desired results.
Understand Data Holistically
A lot is being talked about the value of data, but the biggest problem is that it is not understood holistically. Where is the data coming from, what is its veracity, how clean it is, how it combines to create new data points, etc. are some questions that need deeper introspection and resolution. Without this holistic thinking, the quality of insights that one gets will not be of high level. Building a data governance model within is utmost important and deals with MDM, Compliances, Execution Model, Ownership and Privacy Concerns, Implementation Tools, and Business Rules.
We hear of Artificial Intelligence quite often nowadays, but very few realize that it requires high volume, variety, and veracity of data to result into the right output. AI, in all its depth and breadth can create autonomous system, but imagine autonomy based on low-quality data, it may be quite counter productive.
Deal with Core First
Any digital transformation initiative will have a ripple effect over time; it will not only impact the core but also the adjoining domains. It’s bound to happen and that’s the way it should happen. But it is advisable to first focus on streamlining the core domain and address the adjoining domains later. A lot is required to put in place within the core domain (ministry or organization) before one could extend it to the external or adjoining domains. Many aspects of the adjoining domains may be beyond your control or require huge efforts, which ideally should be placed first on the core.
Finally, Think of Technology for Mass Empowerment
We must envisage the potential use of technology as creator of business value. Mere deployment of some hardware or software without proper alignment with business requirements creates more inconvenience than achieving tangible outcomes. Digital has huge potential to bring in efficiency and enrich customers experience, but it’s only when it empowers masses that the true impact of technology can be realized.
We shall witness a physical world in future that is more and more digitally connected. Softer skills would play a major role in redefining and leveraging technology for a bigger cause. It will create collective wisdom that’s more than the knowledge we all preserve individually. The way we collect data, access and harness information, perform constructive tasks, and above all, plan and think for the short- and long-term initiatives would lead to digital innovation and exploitation of latest technologies that emerge.
That future possibility can be made real only if we create the right base for technology to work cohesively and data to unleash its true potential. I think these four lessons can be very valuable in building the right environment that triggers broad-based innovation by skilled and empowered people.
It’s a journey and we must undertake the journey with awareness.