Another big hurdle, I would say, is finding the kinks in our own regulations. I think it’s pretty cool that you shared this insightful thought. Those were the main things we wanted to do. It has to be the whole government being, understanding that this is how modern organizations run with technology. You need to focus on hiring people and treating them seriously. And so a big part of that is showing that you can use these cloud services, and it will function just as well, and like them being cheaper, it doesn’t mean they’re worse, you can still secure them. And you spend months writing a paper only for just your professor and maybe your parents read it, like that’s about it. GovTech is meant to take the government and digitize it. The government’s mental model for IT is still very much from the late 90s and early 2000s, where you had to build solutions and host them. But we’ve made very little progress in terms of adopting SaaS solutions. And it’s like, “Oh yeah, that’s pretty interesting. The main thing about that internship that changed my mindset was that, I was surprised because even though I was just this intern working alongside all these other professional engineers and PMs, no one treated me like an intern. Projects that naturally grow, naturally get more resources. You change the wording. All the coaching, and flexibility, and good environment, and all is around achieving that outcome. Is it now becoming a norm for government agencies to use the cloud. We have 76 websites today, so it’s pretty good. You don’t really know if anything’s being done. Li Hongyi: [00:21:23] So firstly, OGP, Open Government Products, it’s a division within GovTech. You need to follow a managerial approach that gives people autonomy, that gives people creativity. Yeah, you go and work on Google, you can work on making more money from ads, or having people access Gmail a bit faster, which is good and it’s important to do. FormSG is about five people. Don’t wait for someone to sort of hand something to you. So if you fill in a digital form in the government, like at one of those web forms nowadays, they are mostly FormSG forms. You can take some of our open source projects. So most government agencies, the projects are big established projects. But I guess my interest in tech really kicked off when I got an internship at Google one summer. We’re about 42 people now. And you need to reconcile these.” There’s still quite a bit of friction in terms of working through all these problems that we need to resolve. And so the idea was rather than building the same website over and over again in different ways, we will just create one template. Basically government websites are not famous for being very usable. Army Second Lieutenant (2LT) Li Hongyi’s June 28 email complaint sent to all the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) head honchos has caused ripples on the Internet for the past two weeks. We launched that a few years ago. He believes that tech for the public good does not necessitate building new advanced technologies. This is who we are. He studied economics and computer science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) before a quick stint working at Google, and thereafter entered the public service. So just to give you an order of magnitude. Like people are still need to figuring out, like they are smart people, but still, there are so many things that you can innovate, and you can propose, then you can try out and prototype, and things might work, and that’s how I think innovation happens. The bet I made was that, most people don’t care how good looking a government website is. To succeed, they needed to somehow bring together policy, operations, technology and design to build a product that would bring about greater public good. When you have all these ideas, prototypes, you mentioned a lot of them through hackathons, or talking to the users, and all that. It’s about having people think for you. We look around at the government and see what people are doing. Another thing was the regulations. I worked on the infrastructure and image search teams. Li Hongyi: [00:30:27] So let’s see, we’re about 40 people now. This is why we do what we do. You need someone to do the trying out ideas, so that it de-risks the mass adoption. Henry Suryawirawan: [00:44:50] Yeah, I fully agree with the last one. Subscribe and leave us a rating & review on your favorite podcast app or, https://www.linkedin.com/in/hongyi-li-16183230, https://www.linkedin.com/company/open-government-products, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_delivery_network, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-page_application, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_as_a_service, https://techleadjournal.dev/jetbrains-academy, #13 - Startup Growth Strategy & Building Gojek Data Team - Crystal Widjaja, Singapore government’s challenges in adopting new tech - [00:13:33], The biggest hurdles that Hongyi overcame at the beginning - [00:17:38], Open Government Products (OGP) - [00:21:04], How Open Government Products get approved - [00:24:08], Examples of Open Government Products and the impact - [00:25:38], Cloud adoption in Singapore government - [00:36:04], Singapore government’s talent challenge - [00:39:42], Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) –. And I think also government has this open stance now about using cloud within the government. Second is your professional excellence, that you know that you do good work. I was working on what’s now like Google Keep and like the Google Play Store. It’s easy to navigate. A lot of the regulations were out of date. At a lot of other places, no one else has got it perfect. He shared, “[It’s] a place where using government services is as quick and simple as a click of a button, where government operations are efficiently automated, improving reliability while freeing up human focus to tackle cases that slip through the cracks.”. One of the reasons why people might join us, and this is what we’re trying to sell them on, is that there is a lot of good work that needs to be done in the government. They gave you serious work to do. You basically just need to keep meeting with people, and pinging them, and going around, and having people realize that “Okay, this is not going to go away. I guess even though it was quite a few years ago now, I think it still has a very big impact on me today. That’s why tech companies fight quite a lot for the best people. And people liked it. If this is really a cornerstone of your plan, I’m going to need more than just one person. Interesting enough, he said: "Today we are going to learn a lot about the country of my birth. You can just follow the instructions. It wasn’t that. Tech organizations are less about command and control, and more about relinquishing control so that you have more brains thinking in more directions all at once. What made the government decide to actually, “Okay, let’s maybe formalize this. The software is honestly the least valuable part of a tech organization. They were not blessed. The QR code generator that you see all over the place, that was from a hackathon. Even if people are very unhappy. If other people start fighting harder for them, you’re going to start losing them, and you need to fight harder to keep them. Within 1.5 days, a new website was out. Your sense of mission. But overall, you realize that actually a lot of agencies have a lot of common problems, that if we solve, we can solve for everyone. As everyone in tech knows, the big battle in tech is not for markets, but for talent. Because you think it will create some benefit. Again, it’s not that the people in the government were bad. Because if a project is small, and it does well, you can always grow it. Software is very different from traditional industries, you need very different management techniques and very different organizational designs in order to be successful. It’s about a fundamentally and dramatically better life that it creates for people,” he noted. But it is a decent website that loads quickly. It used to take several months, right? If you can share a little bit, how much of the cloud actually transforms how government works? Henry Suryawirawan: Before we start with all that innovative journey, if you can probably share a few minutes about your career journey, maybe sharing some of your highlights and your major turning points in life as well, that people will be interested to hear about. In this episode, I had an inspiring chat with him about OGP, and his challenges in leading and scaling up its initiatives. You need to be able to get information from people. The team is funded as a whole. And moving to hosting on a different platform, like hosting on AWS, hosting on Azure, hosting on Google Cloud Platform, that makes sense. I personally think we do some pretty cool things on the team, and some pretty technically impressive stuff. You sort of have this backlog of new things that you’re trying. Yeah, so that’s the long term goal. Of the 25 different projects, I think maybe 3 of them are now live as real projects, which is pretty good. Join Facebook to connect with Hongyi Li and others you may know. Li Hongyi is a Chinese actor and singer. They’re usually small, so it’s not like they’re very well known. There were at least 100+ ppl at Sengkang CC to collect them when I passed by on Friday late morning. So this is basic stuff like you have a good work culture, people are happy, you treat people well, that sort of thing. It’s something that we went around and as experimental team, try to identify what the opportunities are, and try to build those out. One of the biggest reasons why I see tech projects fail, is because they start too big. Hongyi is the Director of Open Government Products, a division of the Government Technology Agency of Singapore. And if you would like to pledge your support and make contribution to the show, you can do so through our patron page at techleadjournal.dev/patron. Government officers they do good work, and they handle it. Using cloud services as a whole is the biggest potential for how the government can improve. And the thing that was most surprising to me was that even at Google, people didn’t have everything figured out. I want you to go tell the vendor to do this.” I’m like, “No, you don’t have to tell the vendor. It is the digitized government paper forms, as well as some government websites and things like that. There’s a lot of really good young talent, and you need to focus on renewing. You want to fail fast, and you want to fail small, so that you can fail as many times as possible, as quickly as possible until you figure out what the right answer is, and then move on. Yes, every agency at some point will have some niche use cases. This was a gap year before I came back to serve my government bond. So for the other government agencies, there are sort of leadership discussions and meetings, and figuring out what the strategies would be, and then they direct that to the engineering teams, and engineering teams build that. We have a lot of products, we’ve got about maybe 15 different products, so I just talk about some of the more well known ones. I think that was a really big part for me because the main thing about that internship that really changed my mindset was that, I was really surprised because even though I was just this intern working alongside all these other professional engineers and PMs, no one treated me like an intern. Because something is not immediately obviously beneficial, you then just sit there, and do nothing, and that’s where we got stuck quite a lot. Here, Hongyi (as a NSF) took a brave step forward and bypass the chain-of-command to whistle-blow loud loud to*gasp* – even the Minister of Defense himself! 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