Andrea DiMaio

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Andrea Di Maio
Managing VP
15 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Andrea Di Maio is a managing vice president for public sector in Gartner Research, covering government and education. His personal research focus is on digital government strategies strategies, Web 2.0, open government, cloud computing, the business value of IT, smart cities, and the impact of technology on the future of government Read Full Bio

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Do We Really Need Government Interoperability?

by Andrea Di Maio  |  May 31, 2013  |  5 Comments

Yesterday I attended a meeting where different European jurisdictions were describing their experiences and plans about government interoperability frameworks, to address the thorny problem of supporting meaningful and timely data exchange as well as coordination and synchronization of business processes across different agencies within the same or different tiers. There were several mentions of enterprise bus services, service oriented architecture, open standards, and the likes.

What struck me were the references to shared services and reuse that all speakers made. These came in two flavors: reusable components to support interoperability and shared services that would actually replace the need for interoperability.

The former category includes data transformation functionalities as well as identity and access management services. The latter would include application services, such as financials, accounting, payroll, base registries, that could be shared to basically reduce the size and complexity of the interoperability problem. It was interesting to hear that two jurisdictions that have been quite successful with their interoperability efforts also enjoy centralized base registries (holding people’s names and birth dates, lists of registered companies, as well as land and other real estate location).

It appears that interoperability is more important where there is limited ability to share and centralize. Establishing an interoperability framework is a way to overcome the insurmountable obstacles of rearranging data and applications in ways that make services truly citizen-centric.

On the other hand, implementing a framework and enforcing its use is not an easy undertaking either. It does require strong governance and ability to drive agency behaviors in the same direction. But, then, how much more difficult would it be to take an extra step and go for sharing or even centralization? Is interoperability just a temporary fix for a more sustainable solution based on rearranging competencies and responsibilities in order to manage information in a far more citizen-centric way?

5 Comments »

Category: Europe and IT     Tags:

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Do We Really Need Government Interoperability? ...   May 31, 2013 at 6:00 am

    [...] Yesterday I attended a meeting where different European jurisdictions were describing their experiences and plans about government interoperability frameworks, to address the thorny problem of supporting meaningful and timely data exchange as well as coordination and synchronization of business processes across different agencies within the same or different tiers. There were several mentions of enterprise bus services, service oriented architecture, open standards, and the likes.  [...]

  • 2 Bill McCluggage   May 31, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Andrea, an interesting observation and I wonder where Government as a platform fits, or is this just a rebadged view of functional shared services rather than the norm? Also, even if organisations develop shared services there will still be interfaces and it is at the interface where interoperabity helps architects to deal with data transfer/translation.

  • 3 Eugenio   May 31, 2013 at 9:04 am

    A very good point, Andrea.
    Yet, establishing an interoperability framework is a way to achieve true cooperation leaving each member state able to define (and live with) its set of rules. Which, given the actual state of the Union, is something to take into account.

  • 4 Doug Hadden   May 31, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    It’s rather odd, on first glance, to see the notion of interoperability OR shared services. Of course, these two notions seem to be the most common misunderstood IT concepts among non-IT government professionals.

    Shared services are often seen as a quick fix for government IT limitations: standardization, cost, reliability and interoperability. Yet, as we know, a shared government service from a single enterprise software vendor may have interoperability limitations – i.e. complex & proprietary metadata management in ERP vendors. And, at unforeseen costs.

    My sense is that this isn’t an IT problem per se (other than the overuse of legacy technologies – but the finance sector has a similar problem). Interoperability can be achieved with modern toolsets. The critical problem is functional interoperability among ministries and the lack of an outside-in (citizen) view of government. This opens up possibilities – well beyond “shared services” promises.

  • 5 Uma Maheshwar reddyvari   June 2, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Andrea, as you would be aware the objective of \ASEAN e-Government Strategic Action Plan\ is to integrate collaboration and government e-services amongst the member nations: Laos, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam.

    Key action plan is to create \Online service component\ by identifying 15 key e-services and applications related to logistic and free movement of labours. The key areas involve e-services that would address registration process, permits and license process, revenue generating, and social returns.

    Given the repercussions of hacking, vulnerability of such single integrated place is daunting.

    Whats your take?