Traditionally, the creation of public services has been for many years seen as a sole responsibility of bureaucrats and departments of government. This has resulted in many governments failing in their duties to deliver basic services such health, education and alike, primarily because bureaucrats cannot just do things fast enough to keep up with growing technological trends. Thanks, to the advancement in technology, new tools and methods are now available with capabilities to facilitate co-creation between businesses and customer, government and citizens.
In this article, the importance of co-creation is highlighted. Moreover, a new perspective is provided, explaining how public enterprises can leverage on co-creation to harness value and roll out digital services faster.
In this technology driven world, co-creation has become the new value generation, this is primary because co-creation enables firms and customers to harness the widespread intellect and knowledge to create inclusive services that meets the need of the customers. Over the years, many businesses have adopted co-creation as methodology to better understand their customers, therefore deliver efficient and effective services.
Co-creation is not new; it has been used in Academia for decades. Co-creation is often been mistaken with crowdsourcing, which is based on the ancient belief that two heads are better than one. Businesses have for decades practiced co-creation and crowdsourcing as they seek to uncover the unknown and harness talent outside their respective organisations.
Despite the fact that crowdsourcing and co-creation has been regarded as two different concepts, they are quite similar.
The major difference here is, co-creation is more long term because it focuses on expanding value together by finding new modes of engaging customers. Whereas crowdsourcing focuses on finding the right person to perform a task or job, thus save the business time and cost by finding the right expert(s).
Today, many developing countries Namibia included are facing difficulties in delivering basic services effectively. With the intention of changing the status quo, many countries in the developing world are looking to ICT to deliver efficient public services. However, many developing countries have been lagging when it comes to delivering digital services to their citizens. Thus, resulting in many citizens having to travel long distances from villages to major cities and towns to acquire basic services such as health care, education and identification documents.
Nevertheless, the advent of digital technologies together with the increase in mobile coverage and broadband services present unique opportunities for African countries to embark on their e-service journeys. Therefore, bringing public services such as schools and health care closer to the people. Namibia for example is in a privilege position with access to both WACS and Eassy submarine cables, providing Namibians faster access to International points of presence (PoPs). It’s not only government services, co-creation as a method can be applied in the private sector as well, empowering private enterprises to create solutions together with their clients. Thus, ensures solutions and or services meet the needs of their customers. This could be done through co-creative activities such as hackathons, mush-ups and study jamz.
Today, we are increasingly seeing major cities organise hackathons and other co-creation events to tackle a wide range of challenges, from unemployment to shortage of resources. Through these kinds of events, city of officials work together with inhabitants using problem solving techniques challenges to solve common challenges in the city.
From the 3-5th March 2017, we hosted the 3rd Open & Big Data Innovation Hackathon to create awareness on the importance of open and big data. The hackathon approach enabled participants to be part of the design process, thus influence the design of the e-services. Moreover, practically demonstrates how co-creation can be exploited and used to design better and inclusive public services.
Six (6) prototypes were designed, mainly:
School finder – A mobile application allowing users to search and find schools in Namibia.
Emergency App – An application designed to report emergency cases to the relevant authorities, for example the police, firefighters, or ambulance service.
E-Traffic – a web based application aimed at combating traffic offenses by automating
E-Shopping – A cross platform application that allows users to see items on special in the different outlets. Thus, inform users where certain items.
Workaz – Is a web based tool for registering, managing and finding semi-skilled citizens who are rated and recommended for hire, to perform jobs such as cleaning, gardening and other casual jobs.
Import/Export App – a web applications which monitors the Namibian economy of the country’s import and export product data. This information gives an indication of how the different product areas are doing in the market, how much are we producing as a country and how much are we exporting/importing.
In this era, where knowledge and intellect is widely distributed, we can no longer rely on few individuals to dictate public services. Hence, we need to open up and become more inclusive, allowing citizens to take ownership of public services by including them and incorporating their views in the design process of such services. No doubt, co-creation has become the ‘de facto’ approach to design and deliver services that meet the needs of the intended users. Therefore, it’s high time that governments adopt co-creation and co-design to design inclusive and better services for citizens.
Lameck Mbangula Amugongo is country Ambassador of 1 Billion Africa in Namibia. Heholds B.IT: Software Engineering, B.Hons: Software Development (Cum Laude), MSc. Computer Science & PhD Candidate