The revolution of digital technology and connectivity over the past few decades has led to the creation of a new ICT-centered economic era. Rapid proliferation of transformation enablers such as cloud computing, Big Data analytics and broadband combined with seismic shifts in technology; has created an ICT environment and become one of the key transformative forces for governments, industries and individuals alike. In a nutshell, Digital transformation refers to the changes associated with the application of digital technology.1 Whilst technology is typically the enabler for these opportunities, truly transformed digitalecosystems go beyond mere technology proliferation and adopt acustomer-centric/citizen-centric operating model clustered around efficiency, adaptability & inclusive growth. As an enabler, Digital Transformation has direct impact on citizen service delivery, economic growth and governance mechanism. According to a survey conducted on 1,200 government officials from over 70 countries (by Deloitte University Press), 75% 2of the respondents mentioned that digital technologies are disrupting the public sector of their respective governments. Transformation through digital technology creates an array of direct & indirect impact on global economy and business-as evidenced by Huawei's Global Connectivity Index 2015: 20% growth in ICT investment increases a country’s GDP by 1%.3
Bangladesh has set exemplary milestones in terms of achieving an inclusive digital transformation under the ‘Digital Bangladesh’ vision i.e. using ICT as the enabler for socio-economic transformationto realize a prosperous and equitable middle-income Bangladesh by 2021.
‘Digital Bangladesh’ vision has four key priorities –
4Since the inception of the Digital Bangladesh vision in 2009, Bangladesh has made important strides in utilizing technology to bring in tangible transformation in all spheres of life including the four key areas of Digital Bangladesh. Around 5,000 Union Digital Centers (UDC) have been established at the grass-root level where every month, over four million citizens in rural areas electronically get diverse critical services such as birth registration, land records, exam results, work permits, tele-medicine services, timely information on agriculture and so on. In the last 4 years, 115 million electronic services have been provided from the UDCs. Progress made in bringing government services to the doorsteps of citizen is probably the area where Bangladesh registered most significant progress. Citizens all over the country can now pay their utility bills online; download educational resources and consult with a doctor remotely through mobile phones. This transformation has been made possible for bold initiatives of the government to adopt some innovative approaches, which has seen a complete overhaul of the mind set of public service providers, who are now more oriented with information technologies and more focused in terms of designing and implementation of e-services.
Transformation from traditional governance to e-governance has been adopted in a systematic manner. The vision of ‘connected government’ was materialized by connecting over 18,000 government offices across Bangladesh. To host the e-services &enormous amount of data generated via government’s digital processes, a tier 3 data center has been established. A tier-4 data center has been planned to meet the growing demand. With a view to ensuring service integration and seamless delivery, National Enterprise Architecture (NEA) has been established, with e-Government Interoperability Framework (e-GIF) as the key facilitator for integration.
With 99.8% of landmass under mobile coverage & rapidly rising Internet penetration, digital divide is gradually decreasing in Bangladesh; thanks to a very well planned ICT ecosystem led by the visionary leaders of the country. Local private sector, academia and industry associationsare also contributing to this paradigm shift by creating an IT skill equipped workforce and a digital-ready consumer base. Local ICT industry is well on its way to achieve the goal of earning $1 billion in export revenue as well as 1 million IT sector employments by 2018.5 In a nutshell, Bangladesh has been striding forward through an inclusive journey of Digital Transformation.
Digital transformation is no more an option but an inevitable route in this era of information revolution. Governments across the world have embraced it to shift from their traditional governance model towards digitally networked governance through diverse initiatives like Digital Bangladesh: Vision 2021, Europe 2020 Strategy6, Germany's Industry 4.07, Kenya’s ICT Masterplan8, Made in China 20259, USA led Industrial Internet10 etc. All of these initiatives are aimed at achieving similar goal i.e. growth through digital transformation. But this journey towards transformation has a never ending path as newer technologies are rapidly emerging and existing processes are constantly evolving. In line with this perpetual shifts, governments are being exposed to new challenges & threats, many of which are global in nature. Therefore countries need to enhance mutual collaboration so that every country can carry on its Digital Transformation ensuring security, minimizing error and broadening its coverage.In line with that, the ministerial conference in Digital World 2016would like to bring ministers/policy makers of different countries under one umbrella to facilitate discussion and develop consensus on global issues in relation to Digital Transformation. This conference will work as an anchor for cross pollination of ideas among all relevant stakeholders to facilitate collaborative learning, devise transformative digital strategies and tackle challenges with concerted efforts.