The Digitalization of a Country – Or Is It All Just a Dream?

People side by side on a bench using different digital devices such as a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Process digitalization, data analysis, and AI are present in the news on a daily basis. Every week we hear about businesses employing digitalization to improve service offerings or enhance customer experience. Other times, we are confronted with news about the acceleration of digitalization. Watch out or your family may be digitalized next – the speed and push for digitalization is everywhere. Or is it? Walk out the door and wham! Welcome back to the real world without digitalization of governmental and social services.

Before you go any further, this is not an article complaining, but about the future of digitalization. So please read with a sense of humour and wonder about the future.

Medical Services

Do you know this situation: You travel to a doctor’s office and are handed three pages to fill out. After receiving friendly clarification on how to fill the forms out just in case you didn’t already know, then completing the forms, waiting to return the forms and have them checked, and then waiting for the doctor to review the forms before being able to speak to you, at least 30 minutes of your time has disappeared – forever. Wasn’t that a valuable and enjoyable experience? The other week I was confronted with this situation again, except that it was for two children, meaning double the forms. Does it have to be this way? Can’t the chip on the insurance card store all the general information that is needed? Yes, there are those concerned about personal information, but maybe they also have a lot of free time for sitting in offices. I would rather have the time saved from this situation for much more enjoyable experiences. For example, I could eat a lot of ice cream in 30 minutes, or learn something new, or have happy hour with a class.

Consular Services

Due to COVID-19, the USA consulate office is closed. I need to renew my passport. The good news is that it is possible to complete this through the mail. However, one requirement is a cashier’s check (a special type of paper check that can only be obtained in a bank and costs a fee), in USD, and drawn on a US bank. Hmmm, this will be a challenge. I guess I wait until the office opens, make an appointment, and then travel there, clear very tight security that allows no phones or electronics inside, and wait around for a while to hand over documents for a passport renewal, before finally travelling back home. Big waste of time. There has to be a way to make this easier and save me three plus hours of the most precious resource: time.

Taxes

Does anyone enjoy doing taxes? I have the great honor of filing in two countries. Both consume a lot of time – it is about a five day endeavor, with lots of stress. This means the process will eliminate more than two weekends of family fun time. Both countries have me questioning my language abilities by mid-process too. From an investment service I received an email advising me specifically to file a certain item under line xx and not line xx on document abc, else the tax benefit will be forgone. I don’t know if that will save time or create confusion. Maybe someone reading has the same idea as I: file it under multiple lines and let the tax office sort it out. But if we all do this, the effect is increased time cost and stress for tax filers and the tax office alike. As many documents are submitted directly to tax authorities (pay, investment account profits/losses, insurances), couldn’t the tax office send me the tax claim at least 95% completed? More digital reporting directly to the tax office would save time and costs! Maybe they could pass the savings on and lower my taxes. That would be great!

Further Application Possibilities and a Country With an Exemplary Function

Where else do we spend too much time and money that could be digitalized by a government? Voting? I had to FAX my ballot in to the USA for the last election, and I had thought fax died in the 1990s. How about security and public safety? How about mobility?

Well, there is an example we can all learn from: Estonia. We could save time and money on many services and governments could as well. Learn how the 1.3 million residents of Estonia have saved 844 years of working time, by attending the presentation on the digitalization of services on April 21, 9 – 10 am. See you there! And, afterwards, let your government know what they need to digitalize to improve your life satisfaction.

To join the meeting, register in advance through the Virtual Campus. The meeting will take place via Zoom.
About Prof. Dr. Christopher Weilage 56 Articles
Christopher Weilage, professor for Business Administration and Business Communication, has his university focus on topics of international business and communication. Weilage acquired his MBA in International Business at the Moore School of Business of the University of South Carolina, USA and – subsequently – the IMBA International Business at Helsinki School of Economics and Business in Finland. The US-born American citizen graduated on e-learning at the chair for German as a Foreign Language of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich.