ITAPA celebrates its 18th birthday!
ITAPA International Congress celebrates 18 years of its existence this year. We discussed the very beginnings and development of the conference with one of the founders, Lucia Mušková – Kondáš, who will host this year's Spring ITAPA conference.
Let’s go back to 2001. The information boom abroad was culminating. There wasn’t really a relevant platform to exchange information and experience of IT experts within public administration was it?
Exactly. At that time, thanks to the Canadian Embassy, I had the opportunity to visit Government in Technology Week in Ottawa with a few colleagues. In four days, thousands of people were passionately discussing everything they dealt with in their IT world. Among them were company experts, officials, politicians, activists, IT managers at all levels of management, a number of experts from around the world. I was extremely excited about this event and wanted something like that to happen in Slovakia too. I probably infected other colleagues with my excitement, so we decided to give it a try to create an event - a space for independent exchange of expertise. From my point of view, ITAPA is a successful story. It is, however, important to add that it is not about the original idea, rather a result of upstanding daily work and big commitment of the team led by Dana Kršáková and Michal Ivantyšyna, who prepare each event with all the care and responsibility. Without their hard work and dedication, this idea would be a matter of past. I am very grateful to them as well as to partners who significantly improve the quality of the program through financial support of the event and interesting speakers and topics they present.
While ITAPA is doing well, the factual situation of informatization in Slovakia lags behind. Among the countries of the former Eastern Bloc, Estonia is considered to be a digital tiger, while Slovakia is rather at the tail end. Why is it so?
Digitization is essentially a tool for modernization and improvement. In order to successfully modernize the state apparatus, you have to fulfill a few preconditions:
A. The direction in some area must be decided by people who know and think about how they want to improve the state and functioning of things around them. This mindset could be easily observed, for instance, at ITAPA congress.
B. There is a rule - think big, start small, scale fast. There is no room for megalomania, it is necessary to start doing small steps, to verify the solution and then to grow quickly and have a room for change. In addition to courage, humility is another important factor. Unfortunately, too many Slovak IT stories show that this rule should be followed more precisely.
C. State modernization is also a service to people. It is important to be aware of this responsibility, not to waste resources and to find out whether the investment is worth it or not. I think the biggest personal failures and their impacts can be seen in this area the most.
D. Last but not least, the wheel have already been invented. Many times, it is enough to look for an existing practical solution and to think out of the box. There is no doubt that Slovakia has plenty of smart people, but setting the environment, rules and legislation can be a major obstacle.
Estonians have fulfilled all four conditions and their synergy has increased the pace and extent of modernization. However, completing these conditions characterize other digital leaders as well.