This week, we would like to introduce our keynote speaker Marijn Janssen of the upcoming CeDEM15 to you. CeDEM15 is an international Conference for e-Democracy and Open Government and will take place at Danube University Krems (22.05.-25.5.2015). It brings together specialists – working in academia, politics, government and business – to critically analyse innovations, issues, ideas and challenges in the digital age.
We have asked Marijn Janssen 7 questions relating to his professional experiences and the topics he will present at the CeDEM15. See what he responded and get to know him a bit more before the CeDEM15!
1. Your Keynote is “Experience-based Design in Open Government” at CeDEM15. Why is it important to focus on user needs?
People often think that they know what the user wants, however, there is often nothing like „the user“. There are many users having a variety of interests and needs. Furthermore users are often not aware of their needs. Let me illustrate this with an example. When there was no smartphone, nobody asked for this. Nevertheless there was a latent need that is filled in later. That’s why experiences-based design is needed to understand the user.
2. You have published over 300 publications, which topics do you prefer to write about?
Most of my publications are with others and I enjoy collaborating. Initially my focus was on topics like public service provisioning and over time this shifted towards open government and e-governance. The essence of my research is that it is always design focused, there is a need for orchestration and the research is practice-driven – concerning situations in which there are many stakeholders with different objectives, having different capabilities, there is a fragmented and heterogeneous systems landscape and the regulatory environment plays a role. In my research I’m capturing aspects ranging from the institutional to the technical level. That’s also the strength of the research as not many researchers are able to combine this.
3. Your research interests are in the field of orchestration. How can we improve applications in eGovernment, make them manageable, reliable, but also flexible?
In my view orchestration aims at integrating disparate activities and at ensuring that they operate in concert. Orchestration can create flexibility by creating new combinations, service invocations and process flows and at the same time should ensure the proper functioning. This requires good institutional arrangements, sourcing of modules, but also the integration of systems. This is a complex process that is not easily managed.
4. What are the major challenges in implementing software in the field of eGovernment?
There are many challenges caused by complexity and uncertainties. In a recent paper we made an overview of these challenges and found that most challenges were already well documented in literature. Nevertheless many implementations fail, although what is considered as a failure is viewed differently. What is more interesting is to come up with innovative approaches to overcome these challenges. There is no single best approach and these approaches should take the context into account. That’s what makes it challenging.
5. Is there a project you’re most proud of – can you share with us why?
There are many projects I am proud off and we were really able to make a difference. In some of the projects we developed a flexible architecture for translating legislation into administrative processes, in others we were able to accomplish a high level of cost saving by better orchestrating processes or improving crises response by network centric information sharing, whereas in others we contributed to better accountability by releasing and processing data. I think that both contributing to societal benefits and science is very important. As such I am most proud of my line of research and the impact it has on research and society.
6. What is your vision for the future of eGovernment?
In my inaugural address I stated that ICT=Government. ICT is incorporated in all aspects of the governments and is becoming more invasive, whereas data is everywhere. ICT is already changing our democratic processes, which might result in transparency, participation. This is only the beginning and the government role will change. Governments will become smaller and focused on orchestration and citizens and business will play a major role. That’s why I think that orchestration is such an important topic.
7. What do you want people to take away from your Keynote?
For researchers I hope that they will have a feeling about what is happening and what are the research needs. Practitioners I want to make aware of the need to change practices and that other ways of working can result in more benefits.
Dr. Marijn Janssen is full Professor in ICT & Governance and head of the Information and Communication Technology section of the Technology, Policy and Management Faculty of Delft University of Technology. His research interests are in the field of orchestration, (shared) services, open data and infrastructures within constellations of public and private organizations. He serves on several editorial boards and is involved in the organization of a number of conferences. He published over 300 refereed publications.