last decade, I’ve researched and worked with many pioneering technology
companies, ICT managers and consultants. Several CEOs and public policy makers
have approached us for best practices advice. This executive paper provides a
summary of management recommendations, insights and lessons learned during the
"Knowledge networks will revolutionize the global economy.
They will change the way we think, learn and work. The prosperity of a nation
and its industries will be determined to a large degree by how well they can
leverage global knowledge networks to collaborate, innovate, develop and market
their resources, products and services."
At IIM we believe that a number
of strategies should shape the national business agenda and corporate action
plans. These strategic recommendations are aimed at government policy makers and
business leaders to promote and leverage the emerging digital economy. The
recommendations are divided into five areas:
Planning and Program
Policies and Regulations
1. Leadership Best Practices:
- Leadership at the civic level is designed to be inclusive, but has
difficulty being effective. In the private sector, leadership is based on
meritocracy. Digital economy should be led by the private sector and the
role of government should be to facilitate and support it.
- Leadership of a digital economy development program should be supported
by credible entrepreneurs, with relevant entrepreneurial experiences, access
to global networks and capital.
- Form an economic committee made of a group of internal and external
experts appointed by government bodies to receive policy advice through a
technical, legal and management advisory committee made up of expert
consultants with responsibility to manage the policies, legal,
administrative and technical reforms projects that will help in building and
enabling the digital economy
- The program can be implemented through partnership of government and
non-governmental organizations, as well as representatives of the private
sector, who would meet quarterly to plan and review implemented activities
and projects, so as to avoid duplication of efforts
- On a national level, cluster-based subcommittees can be created to
manage the national infrastructure development (Network, software and
hardware) and superstructure development (applications, process, training
2. Planning Best Practices:
- In the context of the global digital economy, the business adage “think
regionally, act locally” is changed to “think globally, act globally.” Plan
and act globally through ICT networks.
- Start by conducting a discovery/research study on digital business
- How to differentiate your economy and your businesses in the digital age
- Use management best practices to analyze alternative strategies.
Example strategy tools BCG, BSC, GE, SWOT, benchmarking and other
- Quantify ROI and qualify the benefits of all new ICT projects before
- Provide detailed description of activities (market analysis,
technical requirements, cost allocation, business network topology and
- State expected results (estimated impact on target groups,
publications, outputs, multiplier effects, and sustainability)
- The development of a national digital economy should be addressed in
clusters. Clusters are industry sectors with critical mass and a set of
organizations and firms that have strong local and exporting markets.
Clusters can cover different sectors (Public administration, manufacturing,
education, trade, health, etc.) or areas such as:
- Research and development of enabling technologies
- Infrastructure development
- Application development
- New regulations and laws
- New business model
- New policy (education, business, intellectual property, etc).
- Instead of going for big-bang projects, implement the program in phases
and use piloting of smaller projects to develop expertise and evaluate
- Focus your programs on core competencies, strong national and export
- Start with high-impact / quick-wins / 80:20 projects (projects with
immediate ROI and/or directly touch citizens or customers and eliminate
- Develop an integrated action framework to build your digital economy.
- Fragmented development is inefficient and ineffective. Develop an
integrated program (5-10 year) with specific subprojects for each clusters,
including E-Government, E-Business, E-Media, E- Learning, E-Health and so
- Leverage PDBOT project management model (plan, design, build, operate,
- Control and align operations by using progress measurement system that
include metrics such as sector employment, patents, venture funding,
startups, local and export income
- Evaluate growth strategies
- Build, acquire or partner your way in
- Build on national strengths/select industries and help the
transformation of older industries that are capable of sustained growth
- Expand your channels and geographies, sell into geographies you are
not currently in
- When planning or awarding grants and investment, think “sustainable
- Standardize! Economy of scale works best when you use a single open
platform to run and maintain your economy and your business. You’ll save on
capital, training, operation and support cost.
- Whenever possible, leverage open source software and technologies.
However, government should not control or fight competitive commercial
solutions. Let market forces decide on the best solution.
- Manage risks and plan for business continuity and disaster recovery
- Monitor and follow up the plans of action for leaders, like US, EU &
Asia in the field of ICT R&D
- Join/build global research consortiums
- Join/build education, media and investment networks
3. Policies and Regulations Best Practices:
- Policies should focus on building up and networking of executive talent
base, support of entrepreneurship, attraction of capital and worldwide
- Cross-border and international issues resolution should be pursued by
mutual agreement, negotiation and in reference to international
- Free and open access to information is essential
- ICT policy should support and enhance democracy and individual freedom
- Government intervention, when required, should promote a legal
environment compatible with international business and international laws.
It should help, not hinder the commerce and information exchange
- Government regulations should be technologically neutral and should
promote open and fair competition
- In order to promote trust, government should formulate and enforce
regulations for the protection of Internet users, in particular with regard
to fraud, privacy and security
- Government intervention should not hinder economic and information
exchange. Market-driven, industry-led solutions are most likely to prove
more efficient to compete in this new economy
- Deregulate telecommunications and Internet to encourage major
investments in telecommunications infrastructure and digital commerce by
offering financial incentives and cooperative projects. Avoid monopolies and
open competition between media, commerce and internet services
- Promote new business models for digital workplace and e-business
including “smart organizations”, “virtual office” and “teleworking”
(Knowledge management, collaboration and workflow systems)
- Promote university and industry collaboration and commercial
exploitation of academic research
- Demonstrate support for Internet applications at the highest levels of
- Ensure free/reasonably priced access for schools, universities,
libraries and other public service institutions.
- Permit special tariffs designed to promote Internet services, such as
lower prices un-metered local calls for a fixed rate.
- Promote the use of Telecentres and other means to extend access to
- Legislate and enable the enforcement of digital contracts and
- Promote production of local content by creating and enforcing a legal
framework to protect intellectual property and copyright
- Remove all restrictions on communications service provisioning. Voice
and Video over IP and Data services
- Encourage foreign ICT investments and capital markets: Create tax free
and low startup costs zones such as Internet cities and technology parks for
startups, venture capital and incubators
- Avoid taxing new online business, communication, and email. All such
business should be treated as a startup
4. Infrastructure Development Best Practices:
- Build the infrastructure. Use wireless in hard terrains, instead of
- Start by connecting affiliated groups, Government Network, Academic
Network, Commercial Network, Health Network, etc.
- Establish policies to use digital workflow in place of paper.
E-government Internet/Intranet publishing should become the default. Printed
documents should be the exception.
- Incorporate video conferencing, Internet telephony, interactive web
pages to enhance communications and reduce cost
- Governments can use new digital means like web-based databases to
deliver core public services. Including public information, and cultural
resources, public libraries, health services, web sites at local, regional
and national levels and public libraries and other services.
- Intensify research and development linked to the next generation of the
Internet (Internet 2.0 & Web 2.0), in an effort to identify and exploit new
5. Capacity-Building Best Practices:
- Develop, train and mobilize internal resource for ICT implementation
- Invest in training the managers on business process reengineering and
shift MIS workers into thinking about efficiency, profitability and return
on investment in addition to implementation know-how and best practices
- Install computer and Internet labs in early stages of education to
jumpstart new ICT skills
- Train the teachers
- Have technical support as part of school administrative teams.
- Private-public sector partnerships are essential. Involve the community,
the private sector and investors
- Link ICT and education efforts to broader education reforms. While many
governments around the world have made the commitment to computerize
schools, few have developed coherent strategies to fully integrate the use
of computers as pedagogical tools in the classroom or aligning curricula,
exams, and incentives with the educational outcomes that they hope to gain.
- Encourage Online Distance Learning (ODL) or E-Learning
- Make universities and labs part of the process and accountable to the
private sector community
- Develop plans to attract and retain IT trained staff
- Diversify ICT course offerings and specializations in higher education
(universities and institutes)
- Increase compensation and diverse packages to retain national ICT
expertise in government
- Provide accessible and open continuing education/retraining for civil
servants and citizens alike (especially for workers displaced by ICT
- Promote an active public awareness campaign. Celebrate your digital
heroes, publicly and often. This creates strong motivation for the society
and would-be entrepreneurs
References and Resources
- Most of the best practices recommendations are a reprint of IIM paper at the 7th international scientific conference 1999.
- Other important references and resources: US Chamber of commerce, WISIS,
OECD, World Bank, EUMEDIS, IST
Med Jones is the president of International Institute of Management (IIM) - A
management best practices research and education institute. IIM has 55 universities and research partners in 40 countries. Mr. Yones is an
international expert specializing in the global digital economy, business
strategy, and transformational leadership. For
more information about IIM please visit
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