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Joan Van Loon, Enterprise Business Unit Leader Public, Life Sciences, Telco & Utilities IBM Belux

Joan Van Loon, IBM

Author:  Joan Van Loon, Enterprise Business Unit Leader Public, Life Sciences, Telco & Utilities | IBM Belux

About the author: Joan has over 17 years of experience in business management and management consulting, with expertise in diverse areas like business operations and transformations, IT strategy & governance, quality management, knowledge management and people management. He is currently leading the Public Sector in IBM Belux with personal focus on Watson, government innovation and healthcare.



Citizen empowerment 

These days, people rely heavily on digital information. They use their smartphone or tablet to book their holidays, perform all kinds of transactions, do work and even buy groceries. Most products and services are now available online, and consumers have the power to choose those that best meet their needs and interests for their business and personal use.

This is possible because companies put the customer first, in the centre of their activities, understanding and anticipating their needs in order to create an easy way of engagement. As a result of becoming accustomed to the level of service they receive from these companies, people are increasingly expecting the same kind of understanding, service, and engagement from the government as well. Because the government does not compete the same way as private companies do, their success is measured by the level of engagement with its citizens. The government should redefine its relationship with its citizens to enhance engagement.

In order to offer their citizens the same level of empowerment as private companies do, first, the government needs to get to know the people. This means that the government should consider all the data it has on citizens when building and offering a public service. Data analysis will enable the government to provide services tailored to the individual needs of each citizen. With customized public services, the government can take the lead of the relationship with its citizens and engage them. An engaged citizen with a proactive government will become an empowered and well-informed citizen.

All over the world there are plenty of examples of governments that have successfully adopted the new technology and centered the citizens in the middle of their processes in order to offer personalized public services. This has proven to be extremely useful in various situations, from guaranteeing public safety to protecting citizens against natural disasters. In the following articles of this series, we will be discussing the challenges of becoming a mobile government and how technology can redefine the relationship between citizens and government, illustrating some successful local examples.


*The new relationship Citizen – Government is full series of 8 articles and studies about how the new era of technology changes is perceived and embraced by the public authorities and which are the new challenges encountered when trying to keep or build a relationship with the modern citizen or when trying to ensure them with security.


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