The advancement of digital technology has brought significant changes to institutions, ranging from government agencies to businesses. With the growing expectations from data users, National Statistical Offices (NSOs) need to adapt their digital capabilities to keep pace with these changes. However, for NSOs in low and middle-income countries, which may have limited exposure to digitalisation to date, the task of adapting to rapid technological change is challenging.
This report aims to explore the common barriers faced by NSOs in their digital transformations and identify specific drivers by examining examples from six NSOs. The report argues that digital transformations require more comprehensive institutional changes, such as governance, procurement and human resources, and outlines specific recommendations at the individual, technological, organisational, and system level to guide NSOs and their partners towards a successful digital transformation.
The development of digital technology has revolutionized the way institutions operate, and NSOs are no exception. The increasing demand for data and the need for quick access to accurate information have made digitalisation imperative for NSOs. However, for NSOs in low and middle-income countries, the adoption of digital technology can be challenging due to limited resources, technical expertise and institutional capacity.
The report identifies several common barriers that NSOs face in their digital transformations. These include:
Limited funding: Digital transformations require significant investments in infrastructure, hardware, software, and training, which may be unaffordable for NSOs with limited financial resources. Limited technical expertise: NSOs may lack the necessary technical expertise to implement and manage digital technology systems. Resistance to change: Staff may be resistant to changes in the work process and culture, which can hinder the adoption of digital technology. Inadequate legal and regulatory frameworks: Inadequate legal and regulatory frameworks can pose challenges to the use and management of digital data, limiting the potential benefits of digitalisation.
Despite these barriers, the report identifies specific drivers that can support NSOs in their digital transformations. These include:
Strong leadership: Strong leadership can help to promote a culture of innovation and foster an enabling environment for digitalisation. Collaboration: Collaboration with other NSOs, academia, private sector, and civil society can enhance technical expertise and promote knowledge sharing. Capacity building: Building technical capacity through training and education can help to overcome the challenges of limited technical expertise. Modernisation of legal and regulatory frameworks: The modernisation of legal and regulatory frameworks can support the effective use and management of digital data.
The report recommends that NSOs and their partners adopt a comprehensive approach to digital transformation by focusing on the following:
Individuals: NSOs need to invest in building the technical capacity of their staff to enable them to use and manage digital technology effectively. Technology: NSOs need to adopt appropriate digital technology that aligns with their needs and capacities. Organisational: NSOs need to modernise their governance structures, processes, and culture to support the effective adoption of digital technology.
NSOs need to collaborate with partners to develop an integrated national statistical system that supports the production, dissemination, and use of high-quality data.
Digital transformations are essential for NSOs to meet the growing expectations of data users. NSOs in low and middle-income countries face several common barriers to digitalisation, but the report identifies specific drivers that can support them in their digital transformations. The report recommends a comprehensive approach to digital transformation, with a focus on individuals, technology, organisational change, and system integration. By adopting these recommendations, NSOs can effectively embrace digitalisation and deliver high-quality data to support evidence-based policymaking.