Singapore financial district view at sunset

Start small, act fast and think big to digitally transform government

In the first episode of Leading into Tomorrow, Chan Cheow Hoe, Government Chief Digital Technology Officer for Singapore, describes how he helped deliver a digital government with heart.

Chan Cheow Hoe took up the post as Singapore’s Government Chief Digital Technology Officer in 2017, a time when many governments were weighed down by “tech debt.” Legacy systems were outdated, big projects were failing, user dissatisfaction was high and there were issues with cybersecurity.

Four years on, according to its positioning statement, the Singapore government is “digital to the core and serves with a heart.”

In this episode, Cheow Hoe tells Oly Jones, EY-Parthenon Global Government & Public Sector Leader, and Ben Chiang, EY Asean Government & Public Sector Leader, how he achieved this transformation.

Cheow Hoe describes how he brought about a shift to an outside-in mindset, and the importance of understanding that citizens want a seamless experience. He then explains how he moved from an outsourcing model to an in-house team of 1,000 tech engineers and an innovation culture that emulates Silicon Valley.

Ben Chiang highlights the need to have the trust of citizens and a strong relationship with the private sector to co-create solutions and deliver transformation projects. And he explains how governments can earn that trust one project at a time.

Three insights to take away

  • Digitalization is about using technology to do things for people, not to them. So it’s important to be empathetic about how citizens feel about their interactions with government, and how to improve them.
  • Trust is also vital to co-creating solutions with citizens and the private sector, and for high adoption of transformation projects. But trust takes years to build. Governments can start with small, fast, minimum viable products that demonstrate results.
  • Huge challenges lie ahead in health care, transportation and sustainability. Technology – particularly AI and big data – is going to play a crucial role in solving them.

The podcast is also available to listen to on Spotify, iTunesAmazon Music and Google Podcasts.

A full text transcript of this podcast is also available if you’d like to read more.


Episode 01


16m 54s