Maroš Šefčovič: More interactivity, more involvement, more collaboration. Improving digital competence

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Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues

I am delighted to be with you here today to open the Commission’s first Digital Competence Day and to be in the company of the pioneers and leaders in this important domain.

The widespread introduction of new technologies over the last decade has changed the world enormously. Like other public and private sector organisations, the Commission is moving towards becoming a workplace where the majority of activities, processes and transactions can be managed digitally.

This involves interactions with our customers, our stakeholders and our staff. The demands of each of these groups increase at great speed: they want more interactivity, more involvement, more collaboration, and a greater chance to have their voice heard. We need to be in a position not just to respond but to lead.

The European Commission has already launched several initiatives and programmes in this regard, from the Digital Agenda for Europe to the ISA Program on Interoperability Solutions for EU Public Administration or the eCommission Action Plan. All these initiatives underline the importance that the Commission gives to today’s increasingly digital world.

At the same time, we are encouraging our European partners in Member States to implemement their eGovernment strategies and to set up their own electronic services – which means of course that we too have to keep pace, make the best use of modern technologies, and modernise our own tools. And we also need to increase our competence in using these new interactive and IT related tools effectively, developing what I call our “digital competence”.

Let me outline why this issue is important and some of the challenges we face:

Doing better with less

At a time of negative growth of internal resources and of increasing expectations from both external and internal stakeholders, we need to evolve, be ready to re-think the way we work, and be open-minded with regard to change. We need to continually improve the efficiency of internal working processes and also create economies of scale in the use of resources – in particular IT resources. New technologies, for example electronic workflows, collective data storage, and tools for instant interaction with stakeholders, can help us communicate and work faster, avoid double work and ensure the best use of correct data.

Cultural change

All this implies a cultural change across the organisation. We need to tap into the expertise that we have by increasing knowledge sharing, working together more, encouraging collaboration and breaking silos. These issues are key in response to the challenges of staff reduction, the departure of key staff, and the need to attract top young talents. If the Commission is viewed as an organisation that has failed to move with the times, how can we ever hope to be seen as an attractive employer for young people?

New technologies emphasise values like openness, flexibility, collaboration, sharing, and innovation across the services. New technologies have created new opportunities and new challenges for people and organizations that want to embrace this dynamic world of social interaction and fluid knowledge flows. But, in order to make the most of these, technology is not enough on its own. Behaviour also has to change, at all levels, and leadership is needed to drive initiatives forward. Managers have a key role in being ready to share more information, encourage more collaboration and involvement, and drive innovation. Here to read more.

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