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Digital Transformation: Public Policy in Emerging Economies


March 3, 2016

Will advances in digital technology increase inequality, social inclusion and global instability? This is a well-founded concern, recently expressed by the World Bank publication Digital Dividends. The evidence suggests new technology is disruptive with ample positive and negative consequences. The negative consequences appear to be more immediate. It’s sobering reading for technology utopians and ICT4D enthusiasts.

New digital technologies threaten the role of governments. The calculus of public finances and the linkage to public policy. This is a subject passing by many aging politicians. Yet, it was the underlying theme at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, particularly the effects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

We see digital technology has introduced new issues of trust and legitimacy. Of citizen empowerment. But who is more empowered? We also see digital technology can improve education and health outcomes at the same time as it can eliminate jobs and employment. What’s the point of increasing lifespans and improving education if there are no jobs?

It’s not all digital gloom and doom. Public policy is a flexible and powerful tool. That’s why the implications of digital technology is the major theme at the upcoming FreeBalance Minister’s Roundtable in Managua, Nicaragua next week. Ministers come from developing countries and emerging economies. At the fulcrum of digital transformation effects.

How can public policy optimize digital technology benefits while reducing negative outcomes? This includes digital infrastructure, education, health and social inclusion. Sustainable growth is a concern for government ministers from FreeBalance customers.

The FreeBalance focus on governance is radically different from traditional enterprise software vendors. Traditional vendors tend to use governance challenges as a technique to sell more software. FreeBalance uses governance lessons-learned to help governments. It’s part of our mission. And, it expands beyond the confines of the software we develop.

Of course, the Roundtable and the FreeBalance International Steering Committee (FISC) helps drive our product roadmap. FISC is also in Managua next week and is more focused on Public Financial Management (PFM). FISC changes our product roadmap. So, this is not your legacy “user group” conference where FreeBalance attempts to position software to be bought by customers. It’s an opportunity for customers to influence us – not us to influence them.

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Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

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