SG GovCamp: Quick thoughts

January 25th, 2011 | by Chan Chi-Loong

All major tech vendors lobby the government.

“You are either on the train or you’re off the train,” said Rodrigo Becerra Mizuno, managing director for worldwide e-government at Microsoft matter-of-factly. He was speaking at the first Asian GovCamp held in Singapore last week at the National University of Singapore’s Institute of System Sciences.

Modeled after the often kooky, sometimes enlightening, always chaotic grassroots-style user-generated BarCamp, GovCamp is a Microsoft sponsored campaign to “be part of the [government] conversation” according to Rodrigo. In other words, it is a marketing campaign to develop good government relations.

Microsoft was the only corporate sponsor behind the Singaporean GovCamp, and it was pretty tame compared to actual BarCamp events. Agenda-wise it was sedate speeches by Singapore government officials and Microsoft representatives in the morning, followed by breakout tracks in the afternoon. There was some participation, but bland compared to BarCamp.

Still, plaudits should be given where they are due, and GovCamp is one of the better big idea government campaigns from vendors I’ve seen. At least it is likely to be more effective than some other government eventsby tech vendors that I’ve been to.

Instead of talking about products, you invite the public and the government to tell stories. This gets government participation and gets around the hurdle of getting a case study speaker from the government (good luck getting this, like getting a bank CTO to talk about security).

Marketing objectives aside, an event like GovCamp is also probably more effective in creating conversations between the government, public and corporates. More vendors and a smattering of NGOs attending would be nice though. Still, all in all, a good job on this series of events by Microsoft.

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