Ula Kepezinskaite Duric, Senior Account Executive for Public Sector, has a cosmopolitan lifestyle. She was born in Lithuania, where her roots and family are, lived in Germany during her studies, and currently, she resides and works in Slovenia. She speaks six languages fluently and emphasizes that communication with people makes her happy and inspires her to move forward. We talked with Ula about how the public sector is changing, how successful partnership with the government is built, and how to benefit from it.
Inspiration matters. We all get inspired by people’s attitudes, behaviour, intelligence, an act of kindness. In some cases, those things tend even to “infect” us to do better and take on more challenges. One of the things that feeds my passionate aspirations for digital change is seeing how the Government onboards on a fast transformation journey and adopts its culture through partnerships. Partnerships between the government and other sectors – business and civil society, in particular – are not new but increasing in frequency, magnitude, and sophistication.
In the new reality, the digital transformation, one of the most regulated sectors that touches each of us personally and professionally at any point in our lives or business, has taken a much more important role. I couldn’t help but wonder, what is the role of a successful partnership in achieving accelerated digital transformation of the public sector? How does this change the way the public sector works with its partners so they could achieve their aspirations, become the beacons of light and trendsetters in the country, the region, worldwide?
Government is the Beacon
When I was speaking at one of the most influential event IT Government conference in Slovenia, I highlighted that the government is the beacon for everyone and everything, whether it aspires to be or not. Whatever they decide to do or not to do, has an impact on IT sector development. That is why government decisions indirectly influence other sector players by setting an example in the market. Interestingly, the reactions I received were both surprising and contradictory – some people took this as a compliment and are still using it as their motivation (that was my intention!). Yet, some might have found it less appealing to hear. For me, the change or the acceptance of change means an exciting and thrilling journey ahead, and we should enjoy it as we discover the future. And what can be more critical in this journey than the partnership, especially in our new reality which pushes us to change the way we live, work, or learn? As an old saying goes: “Tell me who your friend is, and I will tell you who you are” – we define ourselves by the partner we choose on our journey.
The decision on how and which partners you choose for your Digital Transformation journey will inevitably affect your results and achievements. Undeniably, it has even more impactful importance in the public sector. What are the ways to build and benefit from a successful partnership with the government? I would like to list three significant things, in my opinion:
- Experiment to create new experiences
While working with partners, the government can employ more ways to attract new ideas, new partnerships, and solutions, all in the legitimate framework of government operations. One such example was a very successful Hackathon of Sustainability organized by the Ministry of Public Administration of Slovenia and Slovenian Environment Agency in September 2020. In 36 hour-time, the start-up community was able to come up with the MVP to show cases where and how the already existing and accessible data could be turned into solutions that would bring value both to public sector employees to make decisions and the citizens to be more informed. The technology partners were able to navigate the start-up community through complex solutions. Is this not the best way to be informed, gather innovative ideas, and add them to your digital agenda?
- Innovate on the experience from the best experts in the fieldOn one hand, the government is undeniably the only SME where governmental processes are organized and dependable, where the law must be adhered to and implemented; on the other, companies work every day to achieve their business goals by selling and deploying top-notch technology solutions. As the government delivers services to citizens every day, so are the partners and technology companies learning, delivering, and excelling at what they do best. I believe that making space for dialogs and sharing experiences and opinions can shorten the government’s way to deploy solutions. There is no better win-win situation where partners guide the government in what new technologies can do and help the government achieve, while the government guides its partners through its legal framework, requirements, and aspirations.
- Knowledge at handWhile working with your partners, you learn from each other on every step of your mutual journey. It not only covers the formal report your partner delivers as a project milestone, but furthermore – the whole cooperation concept. Partners bring diverse cultures and leave you with different opinions and experiences which you might want to consider adopting. They can also strike up new friendships in your professional or private lives, bringing new opportunities to explore. Usually, this knowledge cannot be easily acquired from a formal course. While building new partnerships, one must evaluate what experiences, awareness, and insights it can bring along in one’s next projects.
Talents attracted by winning mindset
The most critical outcome for investing time in developing partnerships for the government is ultimately creating a sustainable environment for talent development in the government. So, the journey towards DT cannot be driven without talents. To attract promising and potential talents, especially in the highly regulated sector, it is crucial to have an environment that motivates and nourishes culture of change and diversity and has a shortcut to the best knowledge. One of the sources to influence and create such an environment is through partners which the government chooses to work and build trusted partnerships with. By regular interactions, the partners give their share and make an impact with their culture, thus creating an opportunity to absorb the best knowledge, behaviors, practices. In that respect, I believe the importance of partnerships has never been explored enough, especially in public sector environments. Still, I have seen this cultural change with one of my customers.
There are no shortcuts on the road to successful digital transformation in the public sector. For every country, it is a complex, time, energy, and change-demanding journey. Choosing partners who will support you on this journey can become more attractive, more efficient, and even more aspirational.