“From an individual’s point of view, communication with AI becomes so natural that in the very near future, we will not imagine it otherwise,” said Indrek Velthut, Head of Data, Analytics & AI at Nortal, predicting what the year 2022 would bring in the realm of artificial intelligence. On November 30, 2022, OpenAI’s ChatGPT opened up the global community to the said, fulfilling Indrek’s prediction. So, what does 2023 hold?
Deloitte’s GovTech Trends 2023: A government perspective pinpoints some technological trends most likely to cause disruption over the next few months, focusing on how governments can harness them. Here is a look at the trends with further insights from government officials and experts in the related fields.
1. Through the glass: immersive internet for the enterprise
The shift from traditional screens as a method of connecting to the digital world to immersive virtual interfaces has started with companies and even some governments are already leveraging them. According to the Deloitte report, governments can take advantage of this technology to enable virtual means of engagement with the citizens and provide immersive training activities for constituents, government officials, and workers.
Commenting on this, Ott Velsberg, the Estonian Government Chief Data Officer, highlights that Estonia is working to give citizens and companies the option to choose how they interact with government services. He reveals that plans are underway to carry out an analysis and proof of concept on the “digital twin” this year to define citizen preferences for government interaction. He adds the state is already seeking partners to test this new way of interaction, which includes virtual experiences and the metaverse.
2. Opening up to AI: learning to trust our AI colleagues
As AI tools become increasingly standardised and commoditised, businesses and governments must focus on trust. This involves developing a new understanding of what it means to trust machines and creating AI systems which are reliable and trustworthy. Meanwhile, governments can leverage the advantages of AI by using it to support automation and make operations more efficient whilst also viewing it as a wise colleague providing helpful and unbiased assistance.
“Consider, for example, AI being the gentle nudge to law enforcement or other employees to take a second look; being the tireless triage of trivial cases; and being the patient phone agent,” the report cites use cases. Ultimately, the aim should be to create helpful and reliable AI systems rather than aiming for perfection, the GovTech Trends report stresses.
3. Above the clouds: taming multicloud chaos
“As the number of cloud platforms maintained by the typical enterprise proliferated, so too did operational complexity,” the Deloitte report notes. This is where meta and supercloud tools present a solution. Metacloud tools and techniques can help simplify this complexity by providing access to shared services and enabling organisations to control their multiple cloud platforms from one place and with synchronised activities.
At the same time, these solutions enable cost efficiency and reduce the risk of security and compliance breaches. For governments, metacloud solutions can also automate provisioning, rights and other cloud-related tasks, freeing up resources for more operation-critical tasks. According to the report, governments should leverage this trend by investing in metacloud solutions and automating cloud-related tasks to reduce complexity and cost.
4. Flexibility, the best ability: reimagining the tech workforce
Unfortunately, the heated competition for a limited supply of tech talent continues. The GovTech Trends report underlines the need for a new strategy. Now would be the best time for companies to prioritise flexibility, build a skills-based organisation, seek tech workers from the creative spaces, and provide a compelling talent experience. In addition, the report highlights that governments can take advantage of the current uncertainty of the global workforce market to create pipelines of non-traditional talent and an employee experience that rewards adaptability.
Piret Luts, Nortal’s Global Head of Talent Sourcing, notes that, indeed, the high competition in the talent market is expected to remain in 2023 due to the current economic and political situation. She stresses that, in this highly competitive talent market, organisations should focus on supporting people development and creating a growth-oriented work environment to gain an edge over talent-search competitors.
She divulges that Nortal has embraced a remote-first set-up, offering employees more freedom, such as flexible work locations, working times and contract types. The global company also provides its employees with exciting learning and development opportunities, a chance to be a part of visionary projects and pursue competitive internal career options.
5. In Us We Trust: decentralised architectures and ecosystems
Blockchain-based solutions are revolutionising how digital assets are developed and monetised while also enabling trust between stakeholders. By leveraging decentralised architectures and ecosystems, trust is distributed among users rather than in a single entity. The Deloitte report points out that governments are both users and regulators of blockchain, and they can leverage this to automate and streamline processes while also providing policy clarity to support innovations.
Kristo Vaher, the Estonian Government Chief Technology Officer, acknowledges decentralisation as essential to Estonia. He highlights that Estonia’s digital government has been decentralised for almost 30 years, contributing to its successful digital services. On this note, he showcases X-Road, a decentralised solution that enables secure and unified data exchange between private and public sector organisations, which serves as the backbone of e-Estonia.
6. Connect & extend: mainframe modernisation hits its stride
Legacy systems like mainframes still perform well for their initial workloads; however, that is no longer enough. To meet growing demands, organisations are modernising their legacy assets by connecting and extending them to emerging technologies rather than ripping them off. According to the GovTech Trends report, AI-powered middleware solutions, microservices applications, and refreshed user interfaces are combining the trusted functionality of legacy systems with the expansive capabilities of new tech.
Governments, in particular, can leverage this approach to reduce migration risk and better support their operations. Kristo Vaher notes that legacy systems are a continual issue for digital governments worldwide, more so in a country like Estonia, which had long digitised its infrastructure even before most of the globe caught up.
He reveals that, like the trend highlights, Estonia is pairing its legacy systems with emerging technologies for efficiency. Additionally, the country is pioneering diverse innovations like the concept of a “data embassy” to provide digital security and stability in these current times riddled with uncertainties.
7. Widening the aperture: from InfoTech to xTech
Historically, “technology” has been equated with information technology. But a new set of technologies, known as xTech, is emerging from the formal, natural, and social sciences. The Deloitte report notes that these fields are attracting significant patent and startup activity, investments, and venture capital funding and will eventually rival IT in their impact. Six disciplines, in particular, will herald the new dawn. The report goes on to encourage governments to ensure the right balance of opportunity and safety for and towards these disciplines.
Sille Kraam, the Deputy Secretary General for Economic Development at the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, comments that deep tech is the fourth wave of innovation that is emerging. She reveals that Estonia is taking steps to support the growth of 500 deep tech startups by 2030. Furthermore, she notes that the Estonian government has set up a Research and Technology Organisation (RTO) to accelerate applied research in specific domains and provide the private sector with the necessary services and infrastructure.
Specifically, the RTO will focus on hydrogen technologies, biorefining, autonomous vehicles and drones, and the valorisation of medical data. In addition, the Estonian Research and Development, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RDIE) Strategy 2021-2035 has prioritised five focus areas to grow the Estonian economy. These focus areas are digital solutions across all areas of life, including health technologies and sustainable energy.
Check out the full Deloitte GovTech Trends report for 2023 to better understand these trends, their level of relevancy (on a scale of 1-5), what they mean for both the public and private sectors, as well as the level of government readiness to adapt and adopt them.