Almost all routine transactions, whether it be purchasing goods or banking, and even the consumption of entertainment, can now be carried out on digital platforms. With the expectations of modern citizens shaped by their technology usage in the private sector, they will naturally be keen for the public sector to offer digital services that match up or even exceed what they have experienced elsewhere.
|Nonetheless, despite these advancements in technology, governments in the region find themselves lagging behind when it comes to providing efficient digital services.
Savvy citizens prize services that are convenient, intuitive, and personalised, but government websites or digital properties are more often than not unable to deliver in these areas consistently. In fact, 59% of public sector leaders in countries such as China and India admit that simply managing digital data continues to be huge hurdle for their organisations. 
This struggle to digitise could be due to the fact that government agencies typically operate independently – an inclination that hampers digital transformation initiatives, especially when agency-specific priorities are placed ahead of achieving a nation’s digital goals. On a whole, digitising governance tends to be more effective when agencies agree to work together and prioritise the needs of their citizens.
As such, to close the gap between the public sector’s nascent digital offerings and the modern citizen’s expectations, Southeast Asian governments must adopt a “digital-first” mindset and encourage their agencies to work towards digitally-enabled platforms that will eventually form interconnected eco-systems.
In the Philippines, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) embarked on its “One Digitized Government” Masterplan last year, aiming to provide citizens with access to government services via a one-stop portal by 2022. [2,3]
A survey of 250 officials and senior tech executives revealed that nearly half of the nation’s agencies were behind schedule in the implementation of their IT and information management strategy
Some of the challenges cited by these agencies include insufficient in-house skills and a struggle to find appropriate IT partners.
However, a recent survey of 250 officials and senior tech executives revealed that nearly half of the nation’s agencies were behind schedule in the implementation of their IT and information management strategy. Some of the challenges cited by these agencies include insufficient in-house skills and a struggle to find appropriate IT partners. 
Partnering with the right technology company could certainly be key to successful digital transformation, as the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) would attest to. Since linking up with Microsoft and utilising Power BI, the organisation has been strengthened by strategic insights gained from analysing their wealth of member data.
Tapping on Power BI, PhilHealth has been able to connect mountains of member data from across all of its 17 regional offices, creating a national outlook on health and providing the organisation’s management with vital insights to create better programs. 
The usage of data analytics has also facilitated a change in mindset for PhilHealth, from hindsight to foresight. This mindset shift influenced the organisation in its implementation of preventive measures, such as improving and expanding its network of primary care service providers, in order to make primary care more accessible to members and reduce the number of eventual claims.
Indeed, with the usage of technology and data analytics, governments will be better placed to fine-tune measures and policies implemented, which will benefit more citizens and improve the effectiveness of public services across the board. Once a digital eco-system has been established, external partners such as companies, universities, and other institutions could also be invited in to analyse data sets further and bring fresh perspective to emerging issues.
As a start, PhilHealth has begun working with the Department of Social Welfare and the National Anti-Poverty Commission, swapping data sources to co-ordinate programs that provide comprehensive healthcare for Filipinos on all fronts, with the nation’s Department of Health moving toward fully adopting Power BI to form another core facet of this developing digital eco-system. 
Within the Southeast Asian region, Singapore has also taken the lead with their Smart Nation push, following recent announcement of plans to migrate up to 95 percent of transactions with the government onto digital platforms by 2023.  A key Smart Nation project will involve the creation of a Moments of Life app, which will integrate services and information from different agencies, so parents seeking to register the birth of their child or apply for various grants and schemes can do so on a single platform. [6,7]
Indeed, digital transformation within public service has the potential to impact not only the lives of a populace, but also a nation’s economy and growth. Read more about the adoption of technology by other government agencies in the world here.