[blog] Towards a predictive society

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Sitra (September 2017)Towards a predictive society Public administration in Finland is undergoing major systemic change. How can one of the most efficient administrative entities in the world aim to make the everyday lives of people and companies easier through co-operation? Solutions for this will be sought through ecosystem forums – together.

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Public administration in Finland is undergoing major systemic reform. Finland’s central government is one of the world’s most efficient administrative bodies that executes legally mandated tasks. TermSystemic changeSystemic change refers to the simultaneous reform of operational models, structures and their interactions, which are used to create the prerequisites for future welfare and sustainable development.Systemic change , however, requires new types of management and operational models. Instead of focusing on executing individual tasks, the aim is to focus on business events and the life events of individuals.

So, what are these life and business events? They are no more than the inevitable, often ordinary, experiences of regular life and business. Life events may include the building of a home, divorce, falling ill or the birth of a child. Business events may encompass issues such as internationalisation, bankruptcy or the hiring of a new employee. Systemic change pushes the administration in a direction where responsibilities focus on the everyday life of people and the events associated with business, instead of stand-alone tasks. Therefore, governance considers the actual needs of people and companies.

Public administrations and their functions are traditionally founded upon legal requirements. In one way, this is the central challenge. Laws divide operations into numerous separate tasks that different organisations implement as individual tasks as effectively as possible. This leads to organisational efficiency, not systemic efficiency. Not all discrete aspects of people’s lives and workings of businesses are individually governed by separate permit-granting authorities or administrative sectors; individuals and companies require flexible services that span several different sectors.

The Government decided in its mid-term review to launch a two-year trial, which will aim to find new types of operational models and tools for systemic change. Society should be developed in a co-operative manner that spans all sectors, and not just from the perspective of an individual organisation’s responsibilities. Using the established ecosystem forum (link in Finnish), the development of ecosystems helps make the everyday life of people and companies easier.

Societies in the future will offer services in a predictive way, to meet the needs of companies and people in different life situations. This can only be achieved through co-operation that extends across all sectoral boundaries. The work requires a clear understanding of the needs of people and companies.

In the first solution workshop held in mid-August, a practical topic was addressed: “Information as an enabler of business and research – example: the secondary use of social welfare and healthcare service information.” The participating companies, universities, start-ups and other actors that make use of social welfare and healthcare service information in their businesses were central to the workshop. When the problem was analysed from a business perspective, three challenges were highlighted.

  1. How to maintain the trust of citizens and companies in a digitising society where the information of people and companies flows across sectoral boundaries.
  2. How should information be offered for use and how should people, companies and society benefit from all of this?
  3. Co-creation is not occurring as effectively as it should.

To resolve these challenges, a total of eight actions were drafted. The progress of the actions can be followed on Suomidigi (link in Finnish) during the autumn.

The ecosystem forum trial is in its early stages and the procedures for the first solution workshop are currently being planned. Systemic change is a long-term research undertaking, which takes time. Progress is made when co-operation starts to span sectoral boundaries. Without that, we will be unable to find a shared path towards a truly predictive society.