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Implementing a vision for innovation in government

When Frédéric Genta (MBA 2011) was appointed by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco to serve as minister for Digital Transformation for the principality in 2018, he knew full well the challenges that lay ahead.

The Prince wanted Genta to position Monaco as the world’s most digital state—a tall order given that, at the time, a United Nations ranking of countries’ digital activity placed Monaco near the bottom. Now in his third year leading Monaco’s digital transformation, Genta is capitalizing on the country’s strengths in pursuit of this vision to further public service and enhance economic prosperity.

What makes Monaco different is that we have an internal ministry that brings together the transformation, the budget, and the people needed to have a coherent and consistent vision,” says Genta. Another key asset is the country’s cohesiveness as noted by Prince Albert when he established the Extended Monaco, Smart Principality program that Genta oversees: “Monaco, in a digital world, it is a country whose size is its strength.”

The substantial financial resources at Monaco’s disposal are also an advantage, enabling major investments in technology and the infrastructure to support it. In 2019, the country had the second highest GDP per capita globally thanks in part to high value-added taxes (VAT) and corporate and real estate taxes. According to Genta, Monaco’s business model is based mainly on real estate—among the most expensive in the world—representing 20 percent of the country’s GDP.

Genta manages 5 percent of the state budget and a staff of 270. His ministry oversees the telecom industry and digital improvements in smart city initiatives, education, and health care, as well as programs and partnerships benefitting the business community, especially banking and fintech, real estate, sports, and tourism.

In implementing Extended Monaco, Genta says, “Digital transformation is deep, it’s profound, and, like a building, it has to have a strong foundation.” In the digital world, that foundation is telecom and connectivity, he explains. In 2019, Monaco was the first country to launch 5G, and it recently introduced Monaco Cloud, the software, services, and security systems that power the country’s computers and facilitate data storage. While it was created in partnership with Amazon and Dell, Monaco Cloud is operated by a Monégasque company to ensure sovereignty, and the country’s own digital security agency handles all encryption.

Genta, who brings to his role a background in business leadership at Google, Amazon, and Orange, also worked with his team to develop the Monaco ID card, a secure way for a user to log in online and easily interact with all government offices.

Enhancements in education are another important aspect of the vision. “We wanted to focus on our next generation of talent. Students from 3 to 18 have one hour of coding instruction per week, not because we want them to be coders or hackers, but because we think there’s a logic behind coding,” Genta says. “It’s like speaking in English today. You don’t have to be Shakespeare, but you do have to understand it well enough.”

The Extended Monaco program also is helping existing businesses by providing financial incentives for them to embrace digital innovation, which ultimately benefits Monaco as a whole. “When a company invests €1 in digital, it brings €10 to €12 in value, so in terms of taxes, it’s extremely profitable for the government to have companies transform themselves,” notes Genta. His ministry is drawing new enterprises and startups to the principality as well, such as a partnership with Euronext to manage a stock exchange in Monaco powered by blockchain.

“The Prince said that he wants us to be the founding nation for progress, so we’re doing all we can to make sure the next generation will be attracted to Monaco,” says Genta as he looks to his country’s future. “A new elite is emerging, and Monaco has to continue to be this magical place where people come to build their enterprises.”

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Jennifer Gillespie

Quelle/Source: Harvard Business School, 06.12.2021

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