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Better citizen-service delivery is a major driver for the public sector to move to the cloud

Even though the public sector was well on the path of digitisation and moving to the cloud before COVID-19, the pandemic has forced governments to rethink their cloud strategy. To delve deeper into the rapid cloud transition and its impact on the public sector, OpenGov Asia spoke with Peter Moore, Regional Managing Director, Asia Pacific and Japan, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services.

Peter began by tracing the public sector’s cloud journey to the time when the public sector was both intrigued and sceptical about adopting cloud systems in day-to-day functioning. Since then, he has seen a tremendous move to cloud among public sector agencies. This was well before the world was hit by the pandemic and remote work became the norm.

Peter opined that the primary driver behind this shift in the pre-COVID era was citizen demand for effective service delivery. Education, healthcare and civil service institutions started putting a web backend to enhance citizen service delivery and better capabilities for government employees.

This led to a major attitudinal change towards cloud and a realisation of its advantages like high performance, agility, and security. Such pioneering public sector institutions started experimenting with cloud solutions in their backend functions as well.

Today, there is a wide spectrum of readiness for cloud in the public sector across the Asia Pacific region depending on policies, procurement, training and internal readiness.

Explaining AWS’s role in this move to the cloud, Peter shared that training and educating both users and developers of cloud and helping them overcome fears and doubts have been their major goal.  AWS is all about supporting its customers at every step in their cloud journey. They don’t consider a job (well) done till their customers get the services they signed up for.

Peter, jokingly, said that users have had a love-hate relationship with cloud historically. But they are gradually coming to realise the ease of securing, monitoring and analysing data on the cloud that they never had at a data centre.

The cloud journey took a sharp turn when the pandemic hit. The compulsions of lockdowns and remote working paved the way for moving to cloud for everything at a pace faster than it had ever been in the last 6 years. Peter also shared that public sector organisations that had already made the transition to cloud and established the capabilities to work remotely had a huge advantage when the world was locked down.

This spiked demand for cloud is a trend that will not slow down as the world recovers from the pandemic. In fact, it will likely continue to accelerate and further deepen the realisation of security, agility, and reliability that cloud brings.

On being asked about how cloud can help the economy on its road to recovery from the pandemic, Peter believes that cloud helps enhance efficiency in service delivery by the public sector. Cloud assists governments in providing financial and healthcare services to their citizens remotely.

Today people are hungry to learn the skills and use solutions that help them remain relevant in these times. And cloud is a very powerful tool that can help entrepreneurs run businesses, doctors reach patients and teachers teach their students without being in physical contact with one another.

For the citizens, services have become more cost-effective and they can interact with their family, friend and colleagues without leaving their homes. Countries all across the Asia Pacific are seeing these advantages of cloud and utilising it to recover both economically and socially.

Peter spoke about the future of cloud and the role that AWS will play in the crucial period over the next six months. The shift of unclassified data to the cloud has already happened and there is an ongoing attempt to move the most valuable applications and workflows to cloud among public sector organisations. The focus for AWS will be to maintain this trust in cloud and strengthen the processes further to ensure the safety of data.

Four guiding principles that can help public sector organisations overcome COVID-19 challenges, Max Peterson, Vice President of International Sales for Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services

Another goal of AWS will be to rapidly scale up the capabilities of pivoting to cloud irrespective of the availability of policy, money, capabilities and concerns about cloud technology across different levels in the public sector industry.

Max Peterson, Vice President of International Sales for Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services, delivered a keynote at AWS Public Sector Summit Online highlighting four guiding principles that can help public sector organisations overcome COVID-19 challenges while remaining focused on delivering their missions.

Peter shared some highlights that online summit hosted by AWS which earlier used to be a physical event. The summit covered ground on how to move forward in the cloud journey, have an agile platform, how to keep innovating it and how to think big. Apart from expert speakers, the online summit brought together a number of AWS customers who shared their stories with the audience, strengthening belief in the power of cloud technology.

Peter exhorts governments and public sector enterprises all over the world to respond to their citizens’ needs effectively and efficiently, especially in unprecedented times like the last six months.

He is a strong advocate of digitisation of governments; considering it to be the biggest asset a nation could have in ensuring the overall wellbeing of its citizens. He validated this with the examples of Japan and Singapore who have done an exceptional job at keeping their countries resilient over the last few months.

The Japan Government Common Platform was launched on AWS on October 8. The Japanese government will be using AWS to modernize IT and strengthen governance by integrating disparate applications and data across the cabinet office, thirteen ministries and agencies to centralize management, enhance security, and reduce operational costs. This will allow government ministries to move quickly in innovating and delivering digital citizen services.

In Singapore, the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) has been pioneering the use of cloud services to drive the Singapore Government’s digital transformation. Over a five-year period till 2023, the Singapore Government will systematically shift less sensitive Government ICT systems onto the commercial cloud, to allow public agencies to use leading-edge private sector capabilities to develop digital services. Most recently, in response to COVID-19, GovTech has used AWS cloud technology to quickly build the SafeEntry application, Singapore’s national digital check-in system, to prevent and control the spread of the pandemic.

As Regional Managing Director, Asia Pacific and Japan, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services, Peter has been intrinsically involved in building and growing the public sector business for AWS and he has seen trends rapidly change for cloud adoption. Paradigm shifts in perceptions of what cloud can do, its advantages, agility and security have driven organisations, agencies and institutions  – be it government, education, healthcare or non-profit organisations – to make cloud a cornerstone of their strategy.

Amazon is committed to becoming a trusted partner for the public sector in moving to public commercial cloud for increasingly complex and mission-critical workloads. He firmly believes that they pave the way for change and development by offering disruptive innovation, agility, twenty-first-century capability, new skills and efficiencies.

Peter assured us that AWS is set and eager to support the public sector on their future cloud journeys. Dedicated to their mission and their clients, Peter believes they have fun and simultaneously, create history every day– making the world a better place by enabling world-changing projects, driving economic development, facilitating citizen services and engagement and through cutting edge research and education.

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