DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION: EVOLVING A DIGITALLY ENABLED NIGERIAN PUBLIC SERVICE.
Jacobs Edo, DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION: Evolving Digitally Enabled Nigerian Public Service, Lightening source UK Ltd, Milton Keynes UK, 320pp, 16 chapters.
The book “Digital Transformation: Evolving a Digitally Enabled Nigerian Public Service” centers on an enabled digital Nigerian Public service. The aim is to digitally transform the public service institutions for improved service delivery and empowerment. This book strives to answer the questions of “why” and “how can” Nigeria start its Digital transformation process. It highlights the present challenges, develop a strategic plan, and assess its implementation for Nigeria based on digital key performance indices. The book is divided into three sections. In section 1, the author gave the basis for his writing. The second section outlines the strategy and plan for the concept of the Digital transformation as it relates to Nigeria’s future. The third section evaluates the performance of the developed strategy for digital transformation using the Nigerian public service as a case study. The author of the book, Edo Jacobs, strongly believes that digital transformation is the way for Nigeria to overcome the high rate of youth unemployment, combating poverty, eliminating opportunities for financial leakages and to increase the standard of living. The target audience of this book is policy makers in government agencies, especially in education, health and social services.
Edo Jacobs is a telecommunication and internet technology expert with lots of experience in business transformation. Edo Jacobs is the ERP System Coordinator at the OFID (OPEC Fund for International Development), Vienna, Austria. He earned a B. Eng degree in Electrical Engineering from University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and an M.Sc. degree in Telecommunication and Internet Technologies from Technical University of Applied Sciences, Vienna. He has to his credit many certifications in ICT. So, he is obviously in a right position to write a book like this.
The timing of this book “Digital Transformation: Evolving a Digitally Enabled Nigerian Public Service” is right; especially now that there is a digital gap between the government and the citizens. In spite of substantive reforms across the country, pubic debt is still rising, youth’s unemployment remains at disconcerting levels and overall health and gross domestic product (GDP) grows severely strained, indicating an underlying trend of a depreciating state. The Public service appears to have been riddled with gross inefficiency, corruption, lack of financial accountability, poor human resource management and disregard for its clients. The citizenry seems to have lost confidence in the public service. Consequently, the youths are yearning for a change of approach of governance and service delivery. The relevance of this book within the context of the Nigerian Public service is enormous, if successfully implemented and coordinated it can: increase accountability and reduce corruption; brings transparency and increase public trust; Improves effectiveness; gives better access to information on government policies and programs; avoids duplication of efforts; reduces transaction and operational costs for citizens/government; and improve the standard of living of the average Nigerian.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BOOK
Section 1 begins with a brief (political situation and the economics that impacts the governance, and infrastructure of the country) to set the stage for digitalization in the Nigerian public service for sustainable transformation towards delivering an effective and efficient service system – in terms of technology, innovations and productivity – to the citizens without losing the country’s values. He described Nigeria as a blessed country with human and natural resources, yet bedeviled with so many challenges: He highlighted some of the problems associated with inadequate prioritization of the needs of the citizens, misallocation of human and financial resources, inequitable geographical distribution and skewing of service provision towards urban areas as well as some of the critical issues like demographic change and employment mobility that could make the public service more competitive and efficient.
In chapter 3, examples of countries like Kenya, Austria, Estonia, France, Singapore Sweden, and other Institutions like European Bank, OPEC fund for international development (OFID), who succeeded greatly in improving their public service and economy through digital transformation were given. Sweden had managed her budget crisis, particularly, increased her GDP and moved from National debt to a 2% surplus within a 2 years when it embraces digital transformation. The French government, also, was able to save over 20 % of her annual spending on information technology.
In chapter 4, the author described Digital transformation as not mere buying of digital technology equipment but an organizational change process in which individual technology efforts around a common vision, supported by an updated and integrated infrastructure, compete effectively as a unified business in connected markets. He recommends 4 action points in realizing the benefits of Digital transformation, namely: re-organization of existing administrative structure, rationalization of existing MDAs & optimization of government administrative procedures, optimum utilization of human resources and strengthening of transparency and accountability within all MDAs.
Chapter 5 mentioned the Blockchain technology as another way of digitally transforming the Nigerian public service. The technology is based on bitcoin protocol, with its main innovation of bitcoin crypto-currency. It allows transaction with no traditional financial intermediary. Its benefits to the citizens are secured privacy, lower cost, geographical freedom and increased speed of transactions. Some specific areas ready for the application of this technology within the Nigerian context are marriage registry, procurement and auction, passport issuance, benefits collection, land registration and property ownership, licenses, birth and death certificates, vehicle registration, taxes, voting, government bonds, compliance and monitoring.
In section 2, the author outlines the strategy and plan for the concept of the Digital transformation as it relates to Nigeria’s future. He suggested digitalization strategies that could drive operational excellence, greater competitive differentiation, customer and citizen satisfaction. The most difficult challenges of deploying digital transformation in the public sector, as identified in chapter 6, include change in culture, skills, governance regime and commercial approaches. In spite of the challenges, the ability to digitally re-imagine the public services can be determined by a clear digital strategy supported by a strong leader who fosters a culture able to change and invent new ideas.
In chapter 8, the three steps to envisioning the digital transformation process are to; identify and diagnose existing strategic and functional assets; using existing key capabilities and collaboration; defining a stepwise transformation vision with clear delivery. Three potential considerations that can enable the change (defined by “3E’s”) are to: engage key stakeholders; establish governance; and to establish a new digital culture.
Implementation and monitoring of the transformation process is detailed in Section 3. Chapter 12 describes the digital action plan for implementation, which is centered on a three-phase organizational framework: plan, innovation and establishing new structures. The first phase defines the strategy and implementation roadmap, creates the lead executive agency, and assesses and builds the digital capabilities. The second phase develops centralized infrastructure for service delivery, rolls-out the digital service and establishes the shared and common services within the MDAs. The concluding phase involves the building of governance and legislative framework and the setting up of knowledge management and training programs. In each phase, operational objectives and the KPIs for a successful implementation are presented.
In chapters 13 and 14, the measurement and indices for assessing the performance/progress of digital transformation, in terms of the social, environment and economic outcomes, are discussed. In this chapter, three groups of KPIs relating to outputs (infrastructure, governance and institution capacity), and impact (social, environmental, and economic outcomes) are discussed. The infrastructure index measures the readiness of infrastructure to achieve goals of digitalization. The governance structure creates the policy and legal enablement framework for the program while institution capacity assess the digital transformation readiness in terms of geographical reach of digital services, digital skills development etc .
Chapter 15 presents the structure of reporting the performance of digital transformation program – with parameters and indicators – using Nigeria as a case study. The author provided a draft report outline for quarterly assessment of goals, KPIs, gains and actions required.
The justification for writing this book is excellent. Its relevance to Nigeria and other developing Nations is glaring. It is well researched and organized with adequate references. The presentations of information in the book were satisfactory and targeted at the right people; leaders in the public service
The book gave a clear background on the theme: “Digital transformation” with comprehensive details on the challenges faced in the past towards evolving a digitally transformed Nigerian public service.
Two technologies of specific interests proposed in this book are the Blockchain and the Shared technologies. The shared technology if deployed can lead to process uniformity, increase professionalism, increase efficiency and reduce operation cost; as support services can be shared on common platforms between government agencies. On the other hand, the use of the Blockchain technology can enhance faster transaction speed at reduced cost, increase transaction privacy, as well as irreversibility and geographical freedom of transaction. This is because the technology uses the Bitcoin protocol and all participating nodes share a common database.
The author proposed a three-phase (plan, innovate and establish new structure) conceptual framework for implementation of organizational change with 8 focal areas for digital transformation of the Nigerian public service. A project timeline of 48 months for implementing the 8 proposed focal areas in public service digital transformation roadmap was provided.
The operational objectives and the KPIs to assess the progress, gains, and viability of the digital transformation performance is a key strength in this book. An interesting aspect of the KPI, according to the Author, is that it is dynamic (time); it measures both program and output, while assessing the output’s impact on the population over time.
The book presented an excellent reporting framework which can facilitate data comparison, and enables aggregation of subcategories
The book provides a methodological background that will be used to start the national digital transformation program. It will serve as a long-term solution reference that could be relevant at all stages of the transformation process. It will also empower the government with the knowledge and tools required to provide sustainable long-term solutions for and to the benefit of the people.
The successful implementation of digital transformation in Nigerian public service will enhance the efficiency of service delivery to global standard, enabling economic growth and innovations, reduction in corruption and operation cost, increased accountability, and bring the government closer to the people.
I recommend a strategic implementation of the key areas of strength of this book to all Government MDAs to conceive the ideas and concepts to kick-start Digital Transformation in their various Institutions.
Digital transformation is the strength of Democracy.