Phrases such as digital development, digital nation, digital government, digital economy, and digital society have become important key words, which are frequently mentioned in strategic documents and action plans at the highest levels in many countries in the world.
Vietnam is not outside the trend and has caught up with the most developed countries in issuing documents on the policies and strategies of national digital transformation. As such, Vietnam ranked first among East Asia and Pacific nations in the Digital Riser Report by the European Centre for Digital Competitiveness for three years from 2018 to 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exerted negative impacts on and restricted all aspects of socio-economic life. But on the other hand, it is a boost for digital transformation in Vietnam. To adapt to the obstacles by the pandemic, all activities from working to learning, shopping and daily life have undergone rapid digital transformation on a scale covering tens of millions of people.
According to experts, Vietnam has yet to fully tapped into the opportunities from COVID-19 to further stimulate digital transformation. The reason is a fragmented approach that has caused many problems such as a lack of connectivity between ministries, agencies, and localities. Technology is employed in some places but shunned in other places. Data is also not frequently updated, inaccurate, and sometimes breached.
However, many problems have been identified and are gradually being fixed, many lessons have been learnt which will be the important experience for Vietnam to enter the next phase of digital transformation.
Research also points out that digital transformation is more of an institutional revolution than technology. Therefore, the government should take a leading role in digital transformation by creating a system of digital institutions. For new models with no existing regulations, the government should allow controlled experimentation.
To speed up the process, the government needs to introduce an institutional framework on piloting and pioneer digital transformation in its operations. The government’s lead in spending on digital transformation will create a market for digital technology companies, which will be important boosts towards the success of digital transformation in Vietnam.
In addition, the Vietnamese population of 100 million people is a large market for the digital economy and digital technology companies to grow. Only when the people have confidence and proactively consume digital products can the digital economy grow. Therefore, the role of media in promoting digital transformation is a decisive factor. The government needs to introduce a strategy to create more data as well as facilitate enterprises to tap into such data to create value.
Lastly, the core factor of transformation is creativity – the creativity of the entire people. Therefore, it is necessary to announce the specific problems of digital transformation at the national level, the problems of ministries, agencies and localities as well as the problems of each enterprise so that all people can take part in and maximise their creativity, thus helping to boost the national digital transformation process.