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MDEC’s Niran Noor on the development of the Centre of Excellence, the soon to be hub for Government Digital Service Innovation

The Multimedia Development Corporation (MDEC) is leading the nation towards a new chapter of digital transformation. Recently, they have received a lot of input from foreign government digital services programs and are looking to establish a force of its own.

OpenGov recently caught up with Niran Noor, VP, Digital Government Transformation, MDEC, Malaysia, to discuss his plans for the year and how he will be pushing government digital services to the forefront.

He explained to us how MDEC plays such a crucial role in the Digital Malaysia initiative and what they will be doing to advance this vision.

“Within the National Digital Economy Initiative, there are three parts, those being the business sector, the government, and the community. We play a driver, facilitator, or focused role depending on the requirement of the particular project,” Noor told us.

With respect to digital government, MDEC plays an interesting part in supporting digital service delivery. Provided that its main purpose is to drive the digital economy of Malaysia, it must take all sectors into account.

In providing government digital services, it is not about how many services are provided online. Yet, this has been the trend over the past few years, leading to a widespread overhaul and consolidation of services.

 “Specific to the digital government initiative, we intervene from the perspective of moving the leadership towards achieving a certain degree of excellence in the digital services delivery. We took upon that, to define what excellence means from a digital perspective,” Noor said, “Before this, the government has not measured [user satisfaction] as much, instead they measured how many government digital services are online and assessed their readiness. This is part of the natural journey towards digital transformation.”

It is believed that the Government must inherently lead the drive towards a more Digital Malaysia. Government digital services must take a citizen-centric approach in order to meet the needs of the wider population.

niran noor table

“At the end of the day, our services are measured by the citizens. They must tell us if the services meet their expectations,” Noor stated, “In addition, government will assess three digital transformation measures for each service, including usage, improvement areas, and what you need to expand upon, i.e. strategy and communication. “

With this, public servants must be trained on how to develop digital services in a manner that reflects the user experience. Noor said that MDEC developed a program to do just that, in anticipation of the drive towards more centralised government digital services.

“We got 15 public servants to participate into our immersion program for one year. We got them to do a mobile project, applying multiple perspectives and getting them to engage with users,” Noor told us, “This program will complete in April and the participants will be evaluated on their projects.”

MDEC plans to capitalise on its digital transformation efforts by building a home for government digital services, called the Centre of Excellence.

The establishment of the Centre of Excellence follows other nations who have created hubs for public sector service delivery and innovation, including the UK and Australia. Noor was influenced by the advanced and innovative thinking displayed by these nations and others, believing that this is the way forward.

“Last year, we went to the government and said that around the world there has been a method, a science, and an art to driving digital transformation. Government needs to be transparent, more open, and engage the private sector and wider community. We proposed to set up a Centre of Excellence for design and development of government digital services,” Noor said.

As MDEC developed the plan for the Centre of Excellence, they looked to examples from France, Singapore, and US. They saw that there were common denominators across which they would incorporate into the Centre of Excellence. However, it will be unique so as to cater to the Malaysian population.

There should be a set of standards as guidelines, design standards, service standards, and agile development methodology, allowing you to scale. We want to have a model that is replicable, these standards help so that others can follow suit,” exclaimed Noor, “The Centre of Excellence will never be the only one that is delivering these services but we want it to apply these principles for others to look to.”

Noor plans to propose the Centre as a pilot by June of this year. From that point, it will be decided where this Centre will operate from and which agency it will report to.

“We are learning in terms of the tools, resources, and required structure, which will make up the Centre. It will take time to find people with the right skills, in the meantime, we are going to involve startups and SMEs who have these skillsets,” Noor told us.

“The Centre of Excellence will be established as a pilot before it is handed to the Government to find its natural home. This is so that we can visualise what this can potentially look like so we can expand on it. We are hoping to have an alpha by June of this year.” 

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