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Lessons I’ve Learned from Conversations with Global Leaders

It’s estimated that nearly 4.1 billion people will be connected to the Internet by 2020, accounting for more than 52 percent of the world’s population[1]. This massive connectivity will not only transform the way we interact with each other, but also with the government. We are in the midst of what I call the “country digitization transition” – where countries are getting ahead and harnessing the power of connectivity by implementing a digital agenda. I’ve had the honor of meeting many global leaders such as Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Former Prime Minister Cameron of the UK, Prime Minister Modi of India, President François Hollande of France, and others who truly understand the power of digitization and are committed to changing the lives of their citizens using technology.


While each country that I visit has unique challenges, priorities and opportunities for growth, certain indicators that a country will be positioned for success in the Digital Era tend to be constant across the board. Here are some of the indicators that I look for to show when a country is ripe for digital transformation:

The vision for a digital agenda starts at the top. To prepare people for the future, leaders must have a clear vision, the right team to implement it, and the ability to lead by example. A leader cannot just talk the talk, he or she also has to walk the talk. The same applies in government. No country can drive a digital agenda forward if its leader doesn’t believe in the opportunity it presents. In India, Modi has launched several initiatives, including Make in India, a program that will transform India into a manufacturing hub for the world. In France, Hollande is partnering with the business community to establish R&D centers to fuel innovation and accelerate France’s digital transformation. These are just a few examples of what can be achieved when leaders understand what it takes to drive country transformation, have a clear vision, and embrace change. Digitization can solve government level issues and increase efficiencies across education, healthcare, the environment, and more, but the journey to harness the full value of this opportunity starts with country leaders who are willing to take bold risks.

The public and private sectors work together. In the next decade, 80 to 90 percent of every job created will require technology skills. Now is the time for businesses and governments to come together to invest in future job areas, starting with the skills gap. Countries that refocus education on technology skills and train the workforce to pivot along with the market will be leaders in creating the next generation of innovators. Modi is doing this well in India with Skill India, a campaign to train and develop the capabilities of 400 million people by 2022. In countries looking to drive digital transformation, public sector leaders must collaborate and partner with the private sector to ensure their workforce is prepared to succeed in the jobs of the future and drive global competitiveness.

Leaders are focused on fostering innovation. In today’s environment of constant disruption, I believe that start-ups/micro-multinationals will be key drivers of job growth and innovation for countries around the world. These companies move nimbly, learn quickly, and shift with the market. In order to stay agile and lead in the next era, government leaders must adopt the same fast-thinking and speed of execution, while creating an ecosystem that fuels this entrepreneurial spirit. Doing so will lead to the creation of new jobs, jumpstart major economic growth and, most importantly, encourage innovation. From my conversations with world leaders, it’s clear that they are emphasizing the need for entrepreneurs. This group will power digital disruption for countries and create solutions to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Digitizing entire countries is a big risk that presents an even greater opportunity. Digital transformation requires willing leaders with a clear vision, collaboration across the public and private sectors, and entrepreneurial, fast-thinking powered by a strong innovation ecosystem. With these key drivers of change in place, I believe that countries are ripe for government transformation and can get ahead of the “country digitization transition.”

Source: LinkedIn Pulse

Link: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/lessons-ive-learned-from-conversations-global-leaders-john-chambers

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