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Digital transformation of government depending on civic demand

The digital transformation of public administration is good for a country and its citizens. In fact, the implementation of digital technology within public institutions is an opportunity that should be exploited as soon as possible. 

Governments usually focus their digitalization efforts on four approaches: public services, business processes, communications and data exchange and transparency. 

But given the convenience that citizens have achieved at a high level of speed and quality of service they receive from popular brands such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, they have not yet this feeling and convenience when receive digital services from the Public Administration.

This situation in Albania remain at the level of this feeling still weak when looking at the ranking in position of 83 out of 194 countries for the Artificial Intelligence Readiness Index for public services. Although this rank shows an increase compared to previous years, it is in the last place compared to the countries in the region. Neighboring countries (Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Serbia) [1]  are 16 to 25 positions ahead of Albania [2]. This result finds itself at a poor level even in the case of analyzing the Network Connection Index where again Montenegro and Serbia are 10 and 18 positions ahead and North Macedonia is 12 positions behind Albania.

But if you look at the rankings in the Human Capital Index in 2018, it is seen that Albania is 3 places ahead of Montenegro and Bosnia, 24 places ahead of Kosovo and 32 places ahead of Northern Macedonia [3], but 29 posts behind Serbia. This positioning shows that Albania is at the average level of the 6 Western Balkan countries.

The rankings above are indicative of the technology use situation in digital public administration in Albania that presents results that speak of a digital technology mastery at less competitive levels than its neighbors for public services and transparency. 

Despite considerable progress, significant gaps in the finalization of start-up and end-of-term investments to required standards may leave Albania less prepared and weak for the challenges ahead both in terms of its neighbors and in relation with its future within EU countries. 

This unbalanced situation between what is foreseen in the programs and what is actually accomplished with regard to digital service delivery may result in citizens distancing themselves from some services, preferring more to the usual model with which they have grown up. This is precisely where the cost-benefit balancing dilemma arises from keeping digitized public services at advanced levels of human and financial capital, as this market is many times more competitive than other service markets. 

Human capital is a major driver of sustainable growth and poverty reduction. Investments in human capital have become more important as the nature of public services has evolved. Looking at the perspective, the indicator of the use of human capital that is on the rise in Albania points to the simple fact that by improving their skills, health, knowledge and competence, so what is called as their human capital, individuals can be more productive, flexible and innovative. 

Digital transformation is not just about new technologies, it requires an adjustment of organizational structures, governance, business processes, culture and mindset. This evolution also means reaching a broader vision of relationships and business models that will redesign the functioning of public services.

Only in this way would the government achieve greater benefits by showing even less up-to-date individuals with tangible digitalization of the benefits digital transformation can bring to people and society. Critics claim that many digital service initiatives in countries such as Albania have created imbalances precisely between strategies and reality, leading to perceptions that the government's digitalization projects are failing. 

It is precisely dedicated to those projects that do not consider all the factors surrounding a digital service / process. It is not clear from the point of view of an ordinary citizen whether the use of some public digital services is something he wants, needs or will benefit from. There is a clear dilemma that the government must know how to respond and be influenced by the correct answer as to how much and what public digital services citizens want before they are approved by government and ready to begin. 

Countries-focused studies that have applied public digital services conclude in a joint opinion that the real progress and development targeted by technology-driven initiatives have not gone ahead as they are projected, as long as they are not based on the complex social-political environment precisely from the trust and demands of the citizens for their government. 

Another study tells us that the introduction of government-designed digital public services without first asking its citizens about them initially achieved the expected success as were anticipated early, significantly reducing the cost and time required for citizens to receive certain services from their local government. The aim was to fight corruption through losing contact with officials and access to technology alone.  

However, the project ended up failing over time due to the flow of prepared human capital and the necessary skills to deal with their demands because the high level of corruption and informality affected the loss of citizens' trust to their government. This facts and civic perception were not considered by government officials. Such digital projects are in risk to fail because they concentrate and commit multiple resources to technological solutions focusing less on the demands and perceptions of the citizens, who in fact need to be the real decision makers. After all they are the only clients and eligible ones for public services. 


[1] Kosovo is not yet included in this index

[2] https://www.oxfordinsights.com/ai-readiness2019

[3] The Human Capital Index (published by the World Bank) measures how well a country harnesses an individual's ability to deliver and create added value through his or her skills, knowledge and expertise. A higher human capital index indicates better human capital management