As is often the way, or so it seems in the connected world we live in today, a string of threads joined up last week. Across the Blogsphere I got to see some really interesting stuff under the heading of ‘Government 2.0; The Government as a Platform’ which espouses a radical approach to the Government in the future. Should we try to improve on the current use of Web sites by Government departments? Not in the minds of authors to this interesting debate.
In their view it’s time to stop trying to make the old model work by tinkering with a government structure set up in the era of paper around limited communication. Instead we need to consider a shift to a era where everyone can be as well informed as a government manager, and play a part in the decision making process. So the big idea is to make Government an open platform from which both people, and the private sector, can MashUp what they need to know, or use, from ‘clean’ authenticated government data sources.

This interests me as being essentially the same argument as that of ‘Value Networking’ where each party contributes their speciality towards the whole. Think of Amazon as a commercial equivalent to a Government in terms of being the value network where all parties come together to find what they want. You could see it as a sort of ‘people who needed these social services also needed these services too’. Could work very well.
To do this will need some serious capabilities and some of this came out in an EU workshop of the eGovernment unit of the Commission’s Information Society DG, where the topic was research that would be required over the coming years for eGovernance and Policy Modelling targeted to the 2015-2020 timeframe.
The single most obvious point that was made repeatedly is that we lack research on the effects of millions of people collaborating, and that it’s not just a technology issue, but a combination of technology and sociology.
It’s an interesting simulation topic to try to reason out whether a future based on mass collaboration will produce massive instability, or some kind of collective reasonableness will occur and stabilise situations around the majority. This is research that we should all care about as it will be the same issue in large commercial enterprises. It has become increasingly clear that technology is a part of all our overall activities and is no longer a separate capability making the definition of an Enterprise 2.0 to me simple. It will be an Enterprise where the structure is organised around any to any collaboration to optimise events and not around systems and processes as if the enterprise can exist in isolation from the external world.
There were some moments when during the presentations and discussions, some good and well known contributors were present, when remarkable clarity occurred. One of the most striking was around the decision making process. It started with the premise that decisions will clearly need to be made faster within a de centralised environment and in response to events as a whole making the ecosystem of the EU increasingly dynamic. Under these conditions decision making is not a single big event from time to time, but a stream of small corrective decisions in a feedback manner. I was seriously taken with the work of one research team that had looked at how this could be tracked and recorded so government or business would actually know how and why decisions had been taken in response to a stream of events.
This would answer a lot of questions about how auditors would know that enterprises were able to ‘manage’ or at least understand their decision making structures, but most of all in if the Government were a huge data platform it could provide the answer as to how public accountability could be provided. I hope the EU is going to apply itself to the process it has started in thinking courageously about what is needed in the future around people and organisational issues, if not we will have the academic thinkers such as those I started with, but no way to make it work.