Networking and e-Governance

One billion health insurance claims in France are filed electronically,
Brazilians vote electronically for national and local elections and 75 percent
of Australians file their income tax returns electronically. An e-taxation
solution implemented by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore resulted in
cost savings in excess of $500 million.

E-governance is a reality that is waiting to happen in our country too. More
and more state governments are implementing projects that will usher them into
the e-governance era sooner than expected. And this presents an immense
opportunity for the partners to make good of. However, not too many partners in
the country are aligning their energies and business processes in the direction
to best exploit the opportunity.

The basics of e-Governance

What exactly is this word that seems to have captured the imagination of one
and many in the corridors of power? E-governance solutions will enable the
government to reach out to its citizens with minimal number of mediation points.

Connectivity across geographical locations will be the key component in an
e-governance solution. An infrastructure that will ensure the contact will be
built by four major components: hardware, software, training and support. The
hardware component will include PCs and kiosks that provide the interface and
the network that will form the backbone of this infrastructure. The main issues
that could plague the efficient implementation and utility are infrastructural
investments and creation of IT awareness and usage at the grass-root level.

Broadly the benefits that e-governance promises to deliver are more than one.
While it will reduce cost, there is expected to be a marked improvement in
efficiency, convenience and citizen satisfaction. And there have been precedents
even in India that have delivered as promised.

Build the skills

CASE STUDY: Delhi Excise

The Excise
Department is the second largest revenue-earning department of Delhi. With
license issuance and renewal for liquor warehouses to cinema halls falling
under its purview, it was an ideal candidate for a networking solution. It
enabled the two-way flow of information and the ease of online calculation
of excise duties.

The license processing time fell from
three weeks to five hours. The ‘Transport Permit’ processing
capability rose from 2,000 per day to 16,000 per day. It also brought
about a greater transparency, with the removal of procedural deficiencies.

The implementation of a similar solution
by the Delhi Transport Department will help it to reduce cycle times and
allow decentralized issuance of driving licenses and also avoid duplicate
and fraudulent issuance of licenses. It will also enable issuance and
renewal of licenses on the same day.

Where exactly is then the opportunity for channel partners whose presence
sometimes do not extend beyond the realms of their region? Software and training
may not hold too many opportunities for partners to explore considering
limitations posed by size of their organizations and expertise that dwells
therein. And the domain expertise to design and deliver a wide area network may
also not reside with the SME; they enjoy a definite cost advantage in the
support and maintenance of this massive infrastructure.

A reach that the channel enjoys is not only unmatched but extremely difficult
to replicate. “It is very important for channel partners to develop strong
network integration skills,” says Alekhya Talapatra, Large Project Manager,
Compaq India. They need to build skills on leading technologies so as to
understand complexities of integration. Partners will however need to address a
number of business issues too, before they are able to really do a good job. A
strong integration skill alone may not earn them that ticket.

Apart from the development of skills, partners also need to address the
resource issue. In simpler words, a greater working capital requirement comes to
the forefront in dealing with the government. Most of the contracts are high
value and need fair amount of cash flow planning. Partners therefore need to
anticipate the collection and cash flow cycles to be ensure smooth roll out of
the projects.

Mohit Chhabra in New Delhi

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