Although my Korean is at best rusty (despite having spent five years learning it), I find it fascinating to be able to communicate with decision-makers in Korea on a daily basis about their ICT development and leverage.
Republic of Korea ranks first in the UN e-government assessment and received international recognition for its achievements in public service. With its robust telecommunications infrastructure and ongoing investment in the development of human capital, it is also one of the best networked countries in the world.
The Korean government is among the first to recognise how important it is to be “smart”. This was way before the likes of Samsung Galaxy phones were introduced (a time which sounds prehistoric now doesn’t it)?
Being smart is taking full advantage of technology and reorganising your working and learning space to be more productive and efficient. It’s also about energy savings, safety and mobility. The government is working on both local and national levels to become smarter. Cities like Busan or Seoul are realising their own smart strategies - providing the citizens with seamless e-services, fast broadband, and maximum security thanks to advanced CCTV systems. Even smaller cities have the demand, and are vying for resources to develop their own smart programmes.
On the national level, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS) is taking the lead to redesign the workspace and work routine. MOPAS is also pushing the government cloud agenda as widespread cloud-based services will help achieve maximum connectivity and flexibility.
Mobile employees are often associated with the image of a freelancer working on his laptop in Starbucks. It could be true, to some extent, since with a good, secure network we are not space-bound anymore. Still, a better idea is to create smart work spaces in housing estates and different locations across the cities. Leading technology providers like Huawei or IBM, and countries such as UK, Singapore and, of course, South Korea, are introducing these “workhubs” to pitch the gap between a traditional office and Starbucks. A workhub is the optimal smart working space, providing desks, meeting/collaboration space and even hardware. It can be hired by the hour, and it also can be a great solution for home-based businesses and mobile workers.
Smart work can be done everywhere on any device but if people have a better device, they do their work better. That’s where the likes of Samsung Galaxy phones and iPads make the real difference. Jong-Sung Hwang, Seoul’s CIO, told FutureGov that if the smartphone platforms were made available earlier, the ubiquitous government objective would have been achieved much faster.
Well, it is hard to predict the evolution of technology, but what is important for master planners is having vision and ambition, such that when the technology is made available, you are ready to embark on it and reap the benefits.
Of course, working smart also requires a better quality management and governance structure.
There’s need for a shift from diligent dummy workers to mobile and flexible people. Bosses should also be able to evaluate work by performance and results, not by how long they stay at the office or how long the report is. We need smart workers and smart bosses. It is a transformation of the nature of work, reducing bureaucracy and streamlining processes. It is a great challenge, especially for the public sector which suffers from internal and external pressure that reduces its tolerance for failure.
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