One of the interesting things I observed at our recently concluded FutureGov Summit was how enthusiastic government officials were to get their hands on technology.
At the HP booth I was pleasantly surprised to see that even the most senior government officials, generally without a background in ICT, were busy poking and prodding and asking lots of questions. This surprised me, as I have always tended to focus my attention on the magic that happens during the small-group conversations in the main conference room - but I realise that there’s a lot of magic that happens on the exhibition floor too.
It reminded me of a conversation I had about eight years ago with Dr Cheok Beng Teck, the then CIO of Singapore’s Ministry of Defence. As he was flicking through our print publication, I noticed him pausing at all the adverts, rather than all the beautifully written (by me) interviews with government executives in the region.
As I tried to steer him to my painstakingly written editorial, he said that he would get round to reading it later - but that for now, he wanted to see which technology companies were targeting government through the pages of FutureGov magazine, and what solutions they were focusing on: “As soon as you leave university, your technology exposure drops markedly,” Dr Cheok said at the time. “IT officers in government need to be reminded what the latest technology can do, otherwise our knowledge turns to stone.”
This was a bit of a revelation for me, and I thought to myself that maybe advertising works afterall.
These sentiments were echoed by Laurence Millar, the then GCIO of New Zealand, when on the fringes of one of our early conferences he said that one of the reasons he liked going to events was because it allowed him to interact with multiple vendors in a short space of time - as opposed to having companies constantly knocking on the door of his office requesting a meeting.
Seeing how government actually quite likes the opportunity to keep itself abreast of the latest developments through FutureGov’s platforms, this is going to inform some of the changes we intend to make to this online publication.
This is currently the third version of the web site (if you’re interested, here’s a snapshot of the first version), and frankly hasn’t seen many changes since 2009. But from March 2014, we will be moving to an entirely new platform which will allow us to provide new tools for government, new data services for technology companies, as well as more options for technology companies to partner with FutureGov and manage their relationship with the region’s public sector.
It’s clear that the region’s public sector is working its way through the implications of a number of intersecting technology trends - inexpensive cloud computing providing the capability to leverage the Big Data generated by the rapidly falling costs of remote sensors to provide ever more personalised services to an ‘always-on’ generation of mobile users.
What is also clear is that to deliver the level of service that citizens, businesses and civil servants expect, the public sector is going to have to work much more closely with its technology providers. The future of government is going to be more collaborative - across government, between government and its users, and not least between government and its suppliers.
So as FutureGov enters our second decade we will continue to work closely with government and industry to provide the best possible platform for engagement with the largest, most established, and most awarded community of government ICT officials in Asia Pacific.
Between now and early 2014 we’re going to be pretty busy working on a range of cool/shiok/ayos/gerek/attagasama/mast/darun/tuyệt/ku/sugoi new features - including subscription services for government, new benchmarking tools, an easier to use awards interface, the region’s biggest government projects directory, personalised alerts, RFPs, CXO mentoring … all this, along with a fancy new colour scheme.
The new features have very much grown out of feedback from our reader community, as well as from our technology partners - so if you have a question, or have a feature you’d like to see not already mentioned, do get in touch with myself and my colleagues. We’d love to hear from you.
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