We are going under a major overhaul in Saudi Arabia, mainly driven by the Vision 2020 & 2030 program. Almost all the public sector is chipping to meet the aspirations road mapped by the Vision plans. As demonstrated by the vision, there is a very empathizes in enabling a high-level caliber of engagements between all stakeholders in the kingdom to govern better and optimize the intersections parties.

Before discussing what is going on at the moment, let us go back to 2007 when the public sector started to catch on the “things are changing” reality. It wasn’t local here; the rest of the world was experiencing the early days of digital disruption. At that year, the government incepted Yesser’s program to establish the E-Government backbone. At that time, every consulting & researching firm celebrated the new era of interconnecting systems through the SOA approach. That experience resulted in a seamless customer experience for a small set of government services. It wasn’t about the technical challenges but related to understanding the core principles of SOA and breaking the business services before the technical capabilities.

Nevertheless, people saw an increase in the quality of government services with fewer visits to regional offices. This continued with new integration approaches outside Yesser’s GSB & GSN. Elm & Thiqah pioneered in the public-private partnerships and generating new revenue streams for the public sector. Well, it was mostly managed business operations with zero overhead on the public.

All the sectors remained on this path until the 2020 & 2030 vision plans, where Saudi had an explosion in modernizing all the public sector infrastructure and especially on the information technology field. And from there, the consultancy firms didn’t hesitate to take their share by bringing new visions and frameworks to make the public spending justifiable. The firms incepted the idea of the Digital Transformation as the new frontier to discover.

Throughout my experience with multiple Digital Transformation initiatives, I have noticed that consultancy firms anchor their deliverables on four pillars:

  • Cloud technologies
  • Data technologies
  • Customer Journies
  • Modernizing any IT assets in need

And from there, you get the project cards, budgetary estimates, and the KPIs. From time to time, you will see throwing emerging while suggesting that those emerging should take the backseat to the more critical pillars. There are no questions about the “why” part of the architecture, only the “what” and “how.” The premise of becoming digital is absent from the scene; give us the consultancy work and move from there. We have a due date to catch!

No wonder that 70% of the enterprises fail when delivering Digital Transformation projects. Organizations don’t understand the premise of becoming digital. And the public sector more susceptible to this due to the unclear Value it provides to the market (I tend to exclude the Proposition part of the Value Proposition from the public due to their regulator nature). And what the consultancy brings is only what the client wants and, in most cases, power and reasons for budgets. The consultants stay for three months at max to present a couple of presentations capturing a typical business systems planning with the everchanging technology landscape.

Digital is a change in culture, behavior, and heart. You can’t claim to be digital by buying COTS without a differentiating your business model to exploit the digital benefits. And I don’t mean by developing the business model canvas and stopping there, but rather rebuilding your model by cutting much of the waste and bringing business innovation. In this day and age, it isn’t enough to expose your services through a mobile app or a website. Going Digital requires a complete reversal of how the organization looks into itself from within and navigating the views from its boundaries.