Sharing the Secret to Digitization in Emerging Economies

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Governments must realize that data is the currency of the future.

Isabella Groegor-Cechowicz is a senior vice president and global general manager of public services at SAP.

Around the globe, economies are progressing at different speeds: some lightning fast and others much slower. What should interest governments the most is how people and technology can play a part in transforming economies of all types.

Two developing economies that are interested in economic growth—and have potential to meet it—are Africa and Asia. Both are looking at the future role the government will play in driving economic change and digital transformation, and how they believe people and education are at the center of creating a positive change in the government.

Here are the three “secrets,” or core drivers, that stand out at the center of digitalization in developing economies:  

Implementation of New Technologies

Developed and emerging economies are all able to implement change through new technologies, but at different paces. In Africa and Asia, some government officers believe economic change comes from within their borders and begins with implementing new technologies on a smaller scale. Because developing economies are just beginning to invest in digital technologies, infrastructure and the workforce, they cannot yet leverage the larger technologies that developed economies are experimenting with today. However, the fact that Africa and Asia are eager to follow trends and implement new technologies on some scale is a testament to their commitment to the digital age.

On a smaller scale, developing economies should invest in IT and new software that can improve issues within their economies, such as those that transition governmental services, contracts and papers to online platforms. Governments must realize that data is the currency of the future, and if people can collect data, they will be able to receive insights into methods of transformation in their own economy. According to the UK Government of Transformation Strategy 2017-2020, data allows for not just transparency within a government but also enables transformation across the government and the private sector.

Hiring Trained Workers

About 90 percent of the processes used by businesses today will disappear over the next decade. Technology, data and transformation become successful through people and interactions. Technology becomes a benefit for the country and stimulates economic growth only when there is a workforce to take the lead.

The right skills are the foundation for moving transformation in a forward direction. Alongside the investments in digital infrastructure that governments are making, the government is also growing talent that has skills to execute on digital strategy. This talent pool that can operate under new digital strategy includes local, qualified people who understand how to operate the newest technology. Additionally, these local workers have the vision and skills to make sure the technological investments are running correctly and being used effectively.

Importance of Education

Education is key. It’s an investment in the future of developed and emerging economies alike. With the implementation of new mentoring programs, extended learning programs and volunteering courses, those in developing economies will be able to fill the most needed jobs. Offering these programs validates the talent pool will be filled by those who can administer new technologies properly.

In addition to offering education between each other, governments can administer extended learning programs in universities and create designated Information and Communications Technology volunteering courses for the youth. Investing in lifelong education programs generates disruption and new conversation for change within the government itself. Adding a focus on advancing digital fluency and literacy skills will allow for local people to learn about the new technologies of the future.

As these case studies illustrate, emerging economies are yearning to follow the digital transformation path of developed economies. Though resources may vary among different countries, the overall message remains the same: providing education within an economy will help generate a new talent pool, thirsty to use new technologies. By hiring local talent, governments have the advantage of managing knowledgeable employees who are aware of new technologies and how to operate them. Governments should embrace the power of educational programs in all economies and the importance of learning to succeed in the digital age.