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What the world’s first Ambassador of Technology means for business

By John Oates

Mr. Casper Klynge is probably not a name you’ve heard of, unless you are Danish and paying close attention to the news. Earlier this year Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced a new job for its Ambassador to Indonesia – Mr Kylnge was to become the country’s, and indeed the world’s, first ambassador of tech.

Just last week he took Danish industrial leaders and politicians on a trip to Silicon Valley in California.

The news is interesting because it shows just how central technology is becoming to business and government.

But it also shows that technology developments, government and regulation are increasingly becoming intertwined.

The next steps for enterprise technology will need to deal with government whether they want to or not.

Issues around privacy and data protection are seeing companies build platforms and policies which fit with fast changing government rules. Financial services, since 2008, have seen their business transformed as it struggles to deal with shifting rules and their unpredictable impact on technology and data sharing.

But there are several other areas of enterprise technology which are coming under the eye of government and international law.

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The difficulty for enterprises is engaging with this process without slowing the accelerating demands of business.

Issues like artificial intelligence and machine learning are already impacting on industries across the economy. But they also have a wider social impact and the realisation is dawning on regulators that systems are not neutral but often reflect and solidify attitudes and prejudices despite the best efforts of developers.

Shifting to ‘Industry 4.0’ means more automation which will bring its own social impacts which government is keen to address.

While all this might sound like bad news for enterprise technology actually the reverse is true. Government agencies are more likely to engage and provide frameworks and support which business needs. The British government’s proposals for improved data protection and privacy are just one example of this.

Denmark might be the first to create an official ambassador position but all governments are taking technology more seriously and starting to think about drafting legislation which supports rather than stymies its development.

Government is also looking to enterprise technology to help it solve some of the more intractable problems.

This includes adapting ‘self-service’ solutions for accessing government services but also more ambitious attempts to use the best of business solutions to help fight social problems.

In the UK the government is also, finally, adopting better internal technology by taking up the lessons learnt from enterprise. This means more agile software development as well as streamlining procurement and shifting to flexible, hybrid technology infrastructures. Civil servants can now access central application libraries and share resources with other departments.

Of course there are still problems to solve but government IT looks much more like enterprise IT than it did ten years ago.

Government and enterprise technology might still have different visions of the future but they are coming more and more in to line with each other.

Denmark’s decision to treat technology as a foreign land which needs its own ambassador is one way to deal with these issues. But however the gap is tackled there’s no doubt it is getting smaller as both sides converge into the same areas of society.

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