Complex Made Simple

Oman Competitiveness Forum tackles public sector innovation

Under the patronage of HE Yahya bin Said Al Jabri, Chairman of the Special Economic Zone Authority Duqm, Ithraa opened the Oman Competitiveness Forum 2014 (OCF14) at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel. In its second year, OCF14 welcomed government and private sector speakers from around the world to discuss methods of driving public sector innovation and efficiency.

“OCF14 is not about theory, it is about real life issues. Issues that impact each and every one of us. And given the theme of this year’s Forum, perhaps the first question we should ask is what is public sector innovation? In my view, innovation is not about new or complex ideas, products or services. It is about crafting something that works better, leads to better results and creates a better pathway forward. It is about getting good ideas adopted. It is about offering better and more efficient services. It’s about improving lives,” remarked His Highness Sayyid Faisal Al Said, Ithraa’s Director General for Marketing & Media.

Over the past few years, global economic circumstances have obliged governments across the world to change, ushering in austerity measures, restructuring and public sector reform, causing civil servants to re-think the way they work and do more with less. During the forum panellists will recount how the public sector has adapted to these new and often difficult circumstances but ultimately leading to innovative changes that are delivering improved services to people, organizations and businesses.

According to Azzan Al Busaidi, Ithraa’s Director General of Research and e-Services, an innovative public sector is key to the creation of a smart, sustainable, inclusive and competitive nation. “Public sector innovation, in particular re-thinking how we serve our end-user whether that is a patient, a student, a start-up company, a commuter, an international investor or a tourist is imperative, is essential if we are to thrive in today’s competitive and connected global economy.”

It is universally accepted that innovation in the public sector is imperative for the competitiveness of any nation. Historically, however, the incentives to innovate in the public sector have been lower, and risks often higher, than in the business community. Public service innovation may therefore be considered, at least in some cases, as an optional extra or an added burden. “This way of thinking has to change,” suggests Ithraa’s Director General of Marketing & Media.

Oman is becoming increasingly diverse and sophisticated and along with this, citizens’ demands of their public services are changing. One consequence of this is the expectation that public services be available 24/7.
“The 8:00am to 3:00pm availability is no longer acceptable to a family where both parents work, and increasingly run much of their lives online. We aim to meet these expectations. Ultimately, our aim is to fit public services to the citizen, rather than vice versa,” remarked Ithraa’s Director General of Research and e-Services.

“Our public sector is, I believe, fully open to change and innovation. The important thing is to make sure that it is for the better – and that, I firmly believe, is what we all hope to achieve and OCF is an important part in making that positive change happen,” concluded Sayyid Faisal.