New Study Reveals Emerging Technologies Have Boosted Awareness Of Government Services In Qatar

Sunday, September 22, 2013
New Study Reveals Emerging Technologies Have Boosted Awareness Of Government Services In Qatar

Government organizations and employees in Qatar are highly connected to the Internet and to one another, according to Qatar’s ICT Landscape 2013: Government, released today.

The number of personal computing devices including desktop computers, laptops, and tablets installed per 100 permanent employees in the government sector reached 101. All government organizations are connected to the Internet at speeds of 2 Mbps or greater, with 55 percent having an Internet connection of between 4 Mbps and 16 Mbps, and 42 percent of organizations with connections of 32 Mbps and above. Nearly half are connected to the Government Network, a safe, reliable network linking government agencies together, allowing for improved data sharing and enhanced security for e-services.

In addition, the study shows that a majority of employees use computers and the Internet on a routine basis (at least once per week.) On average, government employees who use a PC report that they spend approximately 26 hours per week on a computer for work-related purposes, a substantial increase over the 19 hours spent in 2010. Email and word processing are the most commonly used applications. Employees report that they use the Internet most commonly for sending work emails, searching for work-related information, and communicating with colleagues.

Qatar has also made significant progress in improving its online presence, with 95 percent of government entities having a Web presence, and 82 percent having a bilingual (in Arabic and English) site. The comprehensiveness of government websites has also increased significantly over the past several years, with 51 percent of the organizations indicating that they have all their public information available on their websites, compared to 30 percent in 2010 and 21 percent in 2008. Currently, on average, an estimated 35 percent of public services are offered online, and over the next 12 months, 51 percent of public services will be offered online, including inquiry services, transactional services, and transactions with online payment functionality.

IT security remains a top priority for IT executives, with government organizations indicating that, on average, roughly 30 percent of their ICT spending was allocated to IT security. More than half of the government organizations surveyed have incorporated IT security planning and strategy into their work. One-third of organizations surveyed also indicated that they comply with some type of information security standard, and 58 percent employ an IT official such as a security officer or another employee dedicated to IT security–related issues; 55 percent had an IT security incident response procedure in place. However, nearly 40 percent of the organizations surveyed do not have an IT risk–based security strategy or policy and slightly more than half of the organizations surveyed are aware of the Government Information Assurance (GIA) policy.

The world has noted Qatar’s progress with e-government. Qatar ranks among the top 10 countries worldwide when it comes to ICT usage and prioritization by the government, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2013. The country scores high on four indicators: ICT use and government efficiency; government procurement of advanced technology; government prioritization of ICT; and importance of ICT to the government’s vision. Qatar also ranked 48th out of 193 countries in the United Nations’ 2012 e-government development index, which measures the willingness and capacity of governments to use ICT to deliver public services, a jump from 53rd in 2008. And in the same study’s e-participation index, which assesses the quality, relevance, usefulness, and willingness of government websites to provide online information and participatory tools and services to their citizens, Qatar scored a .63 on a 0–1 scale.

ictQATAR commissioned International Data Corporation (IDC) to conduct a large-scale study of the current state of ICT penetration and usage within the government community in 2013, following similar studies in 2008 and 2010. In total, IDC conducted in-person interviews with 408 employees representing 34 government organizations. Respondents varied by seniority, gender, age, experience, and education levels. Only employees that use computers were interviewed. In addition, researchers surveyed 38 IT executives in government (one each from 38 organizations) and conducted in-depth, in person interviews with 11 IT executives to further explore the issues raised in the questionnaire. IDC also conducted secondary research using a range of resources, including international organizations that capture ICT-related country data, past reports, and market data and market forecasts available online.

Other findings from the study include:

  • ICT training and recruitment of IT professionals continue to be a challenge. While government employees’ confidence in their ICT skills has increased since 2010, still only 36 percent reported that their computer skills are adequate and there is no need for improvement. Seventy-five percent of employees indicate they have not received any ICT training within the last three years, but anticipate they will receive more than 11 hours, on average, of ICT training by mid-2014. In terms of recruitment, government organizations are actively looking for IT professionals. The least widely available skills among government organizations in Qatar are those related to mobile technology, geographic information systems, and IT security.
  • Qatar is well on its way to becoming a paperless government. Eighty-seven percent of the organizations surveyed indicated that they have fully or partially automated processes for areas such as human resources, finance, procurement, and inventory processes and systems. Of the entities that have taken steps towards automation, 94 percent report that they have automated the human resources function.
  • Emerging technologies have boosted awareness of government services and enhanced interactions with the public. The increasing penetration of smartphones has resulted in government entities developing a number of mobile applications for employees and customers. Fifty-eight percent of government organizations reported that they have already deployed or are planning to deploy new mobile applications for citizens and residents and 50 percent have extended or plan to extend existing applications. In the next 3–5 years, respondents indicate that mobile applications along with face-to-face meetings will be the most popular ways government employees can communicate with citizens and residents, while social media will increase in popularity.
  • While mobile applications have clearly caught on in Qatar, use of cloud computing services has not. Sixty-eight percent of the government organizations do not yet use cloud computing services.
  • Barriers to adoption of ICT still exist. While half of the organizational representatives surveyed indicated there were no barriers to further ICT adoption, 29 percent mentioned lack of in-house technical expertise, 26 percent cited the inability to hire IT professionals with the required skills, and 16 percent mentioned budget constraints. Thirty percent of employees name work-related pressures and lack of time as limitations on their ICT use at work.

ictQATAR has been tracking numerous indicators of ICT penetration and usage among key sectors in Qatar since 2008, including households and individuals, businesses, and government. This report is a companion to Qatar’s ICT Landscape 2012:  Households and Individuals and Qatar’s ICT Landscape 2012: Business.

A full copy of the report can be found at this link.