A little over a month ago, I was in Washington, DC, meeting with the CIOs and CTOs of all government agencies in the U.S. Their prime concern was keeping the government and all of their initiatives running within the boundaries of sequestration.
Sequestration has cut their employee's hours, their funding, and many other things. And of course, they need to maintain their systems at current levels with fewer resources. So they were working feverishly on trying to accomplish that.
At the same time, in Singapore, they have launched something called G-Cloud, which stands for Government Cloud. With G-Cloud, they've put all the government bodies of Singapore in a private cloud infrastructure that meets all the required security assurances the government has mandated. It has been done with a cooperation of SingTel and HP.
By implementing G-Cloud, all branches of Singapore's government can develop, deploy, and scale up applications much more quickly, efficiently, and securely. As a result, they can increase the scope of e-services and raise the standard of service delivery to all of the stakeholders, particularly the public.
Additionally, because they put government IT services in the cloud, government and business can work together to increase the competitiveness of an entire nation. And because the hardware and software is in the cloud, thanks to virtualization, they can innovate more quickly--they can experiment and "get the bugs worked out" at a much lower cost, bringing innovative services to the public faster.
If we step back and look at the two countries--the U.S. government and the Singaporean government--we can see that one is crisis managing, putting out fires, and trying to deliver services with cutbacks. The other is transforming how they deliver services using technology, how they serve the people of Singapore, and how they can lower costs while increasing agility, speed, and flexibility in what they offer, as well as increasing their ability to innovate.
G-Cloud is pointing the way forward for governments all over the world in how to first consider and then adopt cloud computing and virtualization services using a new transformed IT department.
In fact, here are four major transformations that can be enabled with a G-Cloud.
1. Visual - G-Cloud is enabling high-quality visual interactions at a lower cost from anywhere in real time. This goes beyond video conferencing to visual communication, meaning you not only talk to people, but you also see them when you're communicating in a secure way. This is crucial because when you can see what people are thinking, not just hear what they're saying, you heighten your communication and interactions.
2. Social - Using secured social resources at the enterprise level within government, you can quickly find experience, information, and knowledge to solve problems faster. That, in turn, enables preactive customer interaction. In this case, the customers are the citizens as well as the internal customers. Notice that I said "preactive" versus "proactive." Proactive means taking positive action now. The problem is, how do you know it's positive? You have to wait and see. Preactive, on the other hand, is taking action before a future known event. In this case, the Singapore government is being preactive, knowing that this is where governments are going. And the time is now because the technology to secure a G-cloud is at a level that meets or exceeds government requirements.
3. Virtualization - Not only are they able to deliver services, but they're also able to deliver agility and scalability on demand thanks to virtualization. That is very powerful when it comes to being able to move quickly in a world that is rapidly transforming.
4. Mobile - They're providing secure access to information, knowledge, and people on any device, anywhere.
All of this effort is going to greatly enhance Singapore's competitiveness in the long run and help to position them as one of the world's most competitive economies. It's amazing what a country can do when they use technology to transform business, and in this case government, processes!
Ultimately, crisis management does not transform you, and it does not prepare you to thrive in the years ahead. At best, it prepares you to merely survive. There's a big difference between surviving and thriving. In this case, the U.S. government is focused on surviving sequestration, while the Singaporean government is focused on thriving through the innovative and secure use of transformative tools. If the largest technology companies in the world as well as the largest defense contractors are embracing the cloud, it's time for the U.S. government to see sequestration as the reason to transform how government IT operates.