How digital transformation enables organisational resilience

Singapore, August 10, 2016

How digital transformation enables organisational resilience
·   Digital transformation enables public sector organisations to better meet diverse citizen needs, overcome resource constraints and prepare for the unexpected
·   Partnerships are key
Before we can talk about the impact of digital transformation on organisational resilience, we should ask: “What does ‘organisational resilience’ really mean?”
A useful definition is this one from the BSI, the UK’s national standards institution, which says organisational resilience is “the ability to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to events – both sudden shocks and gradual change. That means being adaptable, competitive, agile and robust”.
In today’s rapidly changing global economy, that ability is undoubtedly a benefit. It’s especially important for public-sector organisations facing strong pressures to modernise and keep up with changing social needs while also controlling expenses.
Adopting digital technologies for operations and service delivery can help with both these demands. But success depends on careful thought and planning.
What’s driving digital change?
In today’s technology-driven and knowledge-based society, information is the coin of the realm. Organisations that can access, understand and respond to changing information are better positioned to meet evolving needs and service demands. They can be more adaptable, competitive, agile and robust – in other words, more resilient.
Public-sector organisations also need to pursue digital change because their stakeholders – citizens, employees, partner agencies and other government agencies – expect it. People today expect anywhere, anytime access to services. They expect to be able to access those from any kind of devices. And that’s as true for public-sector services as it is for private-sector ones.
Changing technological expectations aren’t the only major challenges public-sector organisations are facing, though. Other “megatrends” – that is, major forces affecting economies and societies globally – driving change include rising population, emerging new markets, rapid urbanisation and climate/resource challenges.
Long-term planning
So how can public sector organisations become more resilient and prepared for such large-scale changes? This is where the careful thought and planning we referred to earlier comes in.
For example, look at Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, which first kicked off in 2014. Among the programme’s goals are “better situational awareness through data collection” and the creation of “an anticipatory Government that can better serve our citizens”.
Prior to the smart nation programme, the government has been paving the way for a technology-enabled future as early as 30 years ago, starting with a national computerisation programme in the 1980s, to iN2015, a “living blueprint” for a well-connected society.
Such efforts have already borne fruit. Singapore is now one of the most connected countries in the world, thanks to its nationwide fibre broadband network. Singaporeans also have easy access to over 100 mobile services from the government. In healthcare, medical caregivers can remotely monitor chronic disease patients.
Preparing for the unexpected
In today’s fast-changing environment, large-scale transformations must always be implemented with the potential for unexpected developments in mind. For example, as Singapore has become more and more connected, the risks to the nation’s networked systems have also grown.
“Cyber-attacks have increased in sophistication and attackers have become faster and bolder,” Singapore’s minister for communications and information Yaacob Ibrahim said recently. “It is inevitable that Singapore’s critical information infrastructure will at some point be targets.”
Preparing for such threats requires digital systems themselves to be as robust, prepared and resilient as possible. It also requires support, input and participation, not just from IT teams but also from other department heads, executives, citizens, businesses and partners.
Indeed, partnerships and collaborations are key to realising the resilience benefits of any digital transformation effort. The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), for example, brings together cybersecurity capabilities across the government. The CSA has also partnered local and foreign industry players to boost Singapore’s cybersecurity capabilities.
All in all, digital transformation enables public sector organisations to better meet diverse citizen needs, overcome resource constraints and prepare for the unexpected – in other words to become more resilient. With new challenges expected to span multiple domains, it also takes careful planning, plus collaboration across agencies and industry players, to achieve organisational resilience.