THE GREAT RELIABILITY BOON

Saudi Arabia 2020 | DIGITAL ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

Public entities are working to embrace the Kingdom's social media culture and leverage it for greater transparency and collaboration between the state and citizens.

Ali Al Asiri
BIOGRAPHY
Before his appointment as CEO of Yesser, Ali Al Asiri developed his expertise in various local and international organizations where he specialized in communication and information technology in both the public and private sectors. He holds a bachelor’s in computer science from KFUPM and took a wide range of courses in administration, entrepreneurship, and professional specialized businesses, such as interconnected networks and cybersecurity. Before joining Yesser, he held executive positions at Juniper Networks, Services Sales and Solutions Delivery GM, Huawei Technologies, STC, and CISCO systems.

What do you envision as your role within the sector?

As our nation embarks on a journey to realize unprecedented levels of digitization with a digital government, smart city initiatives, and a more perfect harnessing of data, citizens are increasingly expecting digital experiences that are more citizen-centric. As such, we are working to develop this digital ecosystem, which is currently helping the government navigate the digital transformation. Our focus remains on unifying digitization efforts across the government and ensuring every entity strives to work towards one shared purpose for the betterment of our nation. We are also collaborating with representatives from all ministries to streamline their respective digital strategies. Our core aim through the creation of this digital ecosystem is to ensure that citizens are satisfied in terms of IT efficiency and the public functions-related digital services that improve their quality of life. The goal of this is to build a digital public sector worthy of the Kingdom's future.

What new technologies will that entail?

We plan to create a culture of innovation in our organization and across the entire public sector that will help resolve government problems, increase efficiency, and better serve the populace. To do this, we will shortly launch an innovation platform to help bring the best ideas beyond their conceptual phase. This will include working on robots and AI.

What are your plans and expectations for the year ahead, apart from your immediate priorities?

To create a digitally enabled public sector of the future, we must focus on five critical areas. The first includes an enhanced customer experience in which we make it easier for citizens to use government services. Today's citizens expect public services to be as personalized and responsive as the services they get from the private sector. So we need to reimagine how digital can be used to enhance the citizen's end-to-end experience. This requires the adoption of a 'citizen-first' culture and mindset in designing policies and delivering services. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of service, promote transparent and efficient interaction, enhance the level of public trust in government, and drive better citizen outcomes. Acknowledging the fact that the Kingdom is home to a young population with high social media usage, we will work with government entities to embrace our social media culture and leverage it for greater transparency and collaboration between government and citizens. Here, we will also continue our efforts to increase our ranking in the UN e-Government Survey to the top 30 by 2020. We will also focus on optimizing the return on public investment and find sustainable ways to finance public services and infrastructure. Digital technologies create opportunities to explore new models for providing services, improve management of resources through smarter spending, and link the money invested in programs and services to the outcomes they produce for citizens, boosting accountability and trust in the process. Our efforts will focus on the use of emerging technology to deliver better public value. Our third area of focus will revolve around open data. We have a refreshed second version of our Open Data Portal, which now hosts around 5,000 datasets from across different categories including health, social services, education, and more. Fourthly, a digital government could lead to greater vulnerability of cyber attacks. We will work with ministries and the National Cybersecurity Authority to enable and support the government in protecting critical citizen data and securely grow our digital government through preventative cybersecurity and privacy measures. We will ensure that entities prioritize the privacy and security of all our citizens and the sensitive data we exchange to build a safe digital Kingdom. Finally, Yesser will continue its efforts through the national office established to govern IT deployment and support government entities in building standards, measurements, practices, and architecture to deploy IT effectively and efficiently within their respective EA functions.