Technology Record - Issue 29: Summer 2023

146 Microsoft’s Angie Heise explains how holistic, long-term strategies that prioritise digital transformation and accessibility can help government leaders to meet citizens’ expectations for modern, convenient and personalised services BY REBECCA GIBSON Located on the Arabian Peninsula, the State of Qatar is building an open, integrated and extendable platform of national services on Microsoft Azure to transform how governmentrun agencies operate and improve the quality of life for Qatar’s citizens, residents, businesses and visitors. Powered by innovative technologies such as the cloud, artificial intelligence and digital twins, the TASMU Platform is enabling the state to offer virtual healthcare consultations, national food security, smart parking, and many other personalised services. Qatar is just one of many governments exploring how they use digital technologies to transform how they deliver services for both citizens and employees. “Citizens are looking for more personalised and convenient services that are available online or through mobile applications,” says Angie Heise, corporate vice president for the worldwide public sector at Microsoft. “In addition, they want accessible services which are more transparent and responsive to their needs and are delivered in a timely and efficient manner. Plus, they are seeking innovative and sustainable solutions to help address the complex challenges facing their communities.” Many public sector organisations have embarked on digital transformations to modernise services but are typically hindered by limited resources, complex regulatory environments and outdated legacy systems. “These challenges can make it difficult for organisations to keep up with the pace of technological change and provide the level of service citizens expect,” says Heise. “Organisations may also face difficulties in attracting and retaining employees with the skills needed to implement modern technologies and processes. Embracing digital transformation to improve public sector services requires an innovative approach with an investment of resources, crossagency collaboration and technology skilling.” Heise recommends that organisations adopt a holistic, long-term planning strategy to ensure they are investing in the right areas. “Such a strategy can help organisations build the capacity and expertise needed to implement new technologies and processes,” she explains. “By better understanding the needs and preferences of citizens, organisations can drive more personalised and responsive services, and identify and address the causes of a problem, rather than just treating the symptoms.” Organisations need high-quality data to do this. “Data is the lifeblood of public sector digital transformation,” says Heise. “Many of the forwardlooking use cases are founded on the insights we can glean from analytics running on the rich data the public sector collects about society. For example, these analytics could be used for creating environmental models, forecasting land use or resource planning allocations. We’re seeing an FEATURE Transforming citizen services