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«Digitalisation affects all of us, both in the working world as well as in our private life»

Digitalisation is one of the focal points of the DDPS for the coming years. This transformation process does not only affect the technology, but also the processes, the culture and the cooperation. This digital transformation is described as the «DDPS Digital Journey». But what is actually meant by digitalisation or digital transformation?

Lea Ryf, specialist area Communication, competence sector Resources and Support

Michael Sahli, Head of IT and Digitalisation DDPS, in an interview about digitalisation and digital transformation
Michael Sahli, Head of IT and Digitalisation DDPS, in an interview about digitalisation and digital transformation

What are the goals of the «DDPS Digital Journey»?

Digitalisation is also a transformation process for the DDPS: technological, organisational and cultural. «Digital Journey» designates a learning journey which will not be over in the foreseeable future. Our focus is thus not only on the destination, but on the journey itself.

In the first stage this year, we will develop the target image, the ambitions and the areas of activity for digitalisation in the DDPS. We thus set the strategic framework for the entire DDPS, which will serve as a compass for the journey.

Social change is closely connected with digitalisation

Digitalisation and digital transformation is a purely technological project and only affects IT. Do you agree with this statement?

The steps in digitalisation so far, such as the first use of computers, were above all a technological change. In addition to the use of new, digital technologies, the term digital transformation also covers the changes in society – new needs and changed processes emerge. For example, the use of social media, the smart wrist companion or payment by smartphone. Economic and political consequences follow.

Structural changes as well as new applications and systems, such as the creation of networks or the use of artificial intelligence (AI) emerge as a result of the progressive development in the technological sector. Today, processes can be fully automated or digitalised. Technology is therefore certainly an important factor in digitalisation but not the only one.

Technology is an important factor in digitalisation but not the only one

Where do you see challenges in the area of digitalisation and digital transformation for the DDPS and why?

I see the challenges in the framework conditions, which we will only be able to partially influence or adapt: We live in a world which is constantly changing, and which is characterised by instability and unpredictable changes. The intervals between these events and changes are becoming increasingly shorter. This initial situation – which is summarised today in the acronym VUKA – describes the changed framework conditions of government authorities and companies, especially in the digitalisation environment. VUKA is made up of the four terms volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. This challenging starting point also requires far-reaching changes in the context of digital transformation.

However for me, the biggest challenge is how we shape this transition or even the transformation in the DDPS and integrate all employees in this change to take them on the Digital Journey.

Perceiving the opportunities of digital transformation must not be thwarted by prevailing fears with regard to the change

What are the opportunities and risks of digitalisation and digital transformation?

This question was discussed during the strategy process of the «Digital Journey». The «man-machine interaction», for example, is seen as an opportunity – in other words, the digitalisation of processes. Employees thus have more time for thinking as well as connectivity and networking inside as well as outside of the DDPS. Interesting job content and a new culture aim to increase the attraction of the DDPS as an employer.

Risks are considered to be, for example, overwork and excessive demand as a result of constant availability and the flow of information, but also uncertainty and fear of new technologies. The shorter intervals between changes are also a challenge. And last but not least, credibility as a reliable and secure partner in the digital world.

Are digital pioneers needed to drive digitalisation forward and how are these people trained?

Pioneers help when you venture into unknown territory and this is the case with the «Digital Journey».

A one-year learning journey with the ada fellowship learning programme is starting for around 30 employees from all over the DDPS. Here, they learn how to apply interdisciplinary thinking, methods as well as the practical transfer to the organisation. These competences help to master the digital transformation in a practical manner and to train the participants to become effective multiplicators of digitalisation in their administrative units.

Why is digital transformation closely connected with agility?

The factors of the VUKA world mentioned above require more agility in the organisation but also in the mindset of each individual. Agility does not mean that everything has to be converted to agile procedures and agile organisations. We must be able to react to the increasingly complex environment and the more rapid change with a higher level of adaptability. Agility is therefore closely connected with digital change.

In the working world, digitalisation is an enormous challenge for me but a very exciting one

What does digitalisation mean for you personally?

For me as an employee, this means helping to influence the environment, the organisation and the common working method such that we seize the opportunities of technological advances in order to be able to react to the risks, which undoubtedly also exist.

As a private individual and citizen, digitalisation for me means consciously using new technologies where they bring me added value. With regard to the administration, I as a citizen hope that all government services will also be offered in digitalised form.

Brief profile Michael Sahli

Michael Sahli (45) joined the DDPS in 2020. Previously, Michael Sahli worked as a Lean Agile Leader as well as a Head of Project Portfolio and Quality Management. Since joining the DDPS, he has been responsible for the management of IT and Digitalisation at the DDPS. Michael Sahli is leading the DDPS through the digital transformation process, with the leading responsibility for the «Digital Journey».