Microsoft Citizen Service Cloud – Virtualizing Innovation

Business Model Change and Innovation

Image by Alex Osterwalder via Flickr

One example of a use case for how Governments can greatly accelerate their adoption of business model best practices through Cloud technologies can be defined through ‘the Microsoft Citizen Service Cloud’.

This enables a ‘Business Model Innovation Cloud‘, a unique new way for governments to provide employment development services to citizens.

Private Cloud Application Platform

As I wrote a while back, a key adoption scenario will be the ‘Private Cloud Application Platform‘.

Microsoft offers a complete integrated suite of their core business apps tailored for government, the Citizen Service Platform, and the functionality it enables can be delivered to smaller agencies via a ‘private SaaS’ model.

As we all know in tough times Governments play an especially important role in key areas like Employment an Economic Development, and this goes far beyond simply pumping in stimulus funds every now and then.

Rather many small programs all over the world, like the OSEB here in Toronto, are intended to provide accelerating pathways for those out of work, through helping them become self-employed, start small businesses and so forth.

It’s the design of these programs that can be improved through global knowledge sharing of best practices, via open source. The OSEB claims:

The OSEB Program is one of the most unique self-employment programs in the world today.

And if it were then replicating it via open source models would be a hugely productive action for many people.

However the reality is there’s lots of room for improvement, not least there is no technology enablement of the core processes. All business planning is entirely manual and paper based, as are the workflows for linking up with other departments.

Not only does this mean less economies of scale through IT, but there’s no exploitation of the collaborative benefits of Web 2.0 portals, ideal for brainstorming and teambuilding processes.

The reason for this is like many other government functions it’s actually a non-profit who provide the service, which the government outsources to them. This means any significant business process automation and advanced Web 2.0 type systems are well out of their reach.

So they’re the perfect candidate for a SaaS based option provided from the central Government.

Cloud Ventures – Architecture for Virtualized Innovation

The effectiveness of this can be further maximized through incorporating the most modern of best practices, and it’s this area that best quantifies what I’ve intended for Cloud Ventures.

The group is for helping incubate new start-ups in the Cloud Computing space, but it’s also for utilizing the Cloud for enhancing the inherent capabilities of innovation in general in these areas.

It’s based on incorporating two key areas of modernizing trend:

The Future of Work –

Management guru Charles Handy described how employment will evolve to many more people becoming self-employed through ‘portfolios’ of projects, and organizations will become ‘shamrock’ in nature as they combine these groups of workers with their traditional employees.

Organizations like the Freelancers Union cater for supporting this function for sole agents in New York, primarily operating an aggregation to provide central services for insurance, enable networking between members and allow them to post project “gigs”.

Virtual Enterprise –

A ‘Virtual Enterprise‘ (VE) is a consortium of physical organisations that is dynamically constituted in response to market opportunity and aggregates them into a single online entity for purposes of benefits derived from their aggregation.

These approaches have been used extensively in Europe to fast-track business innovation through online clustering and large innovation networks like the EUREKA research framework which brings together university researchers with commercial entrepreneurs via i) A co-operation network, which is a stable platform to group the resources together, and then ii) virtual factories that are formed and dissolved dynamically in response to market opportunity.


The Web 2.0 trend is driving a new world of work, where self-employment is made much more possible through forming and participating in online virtual teams. These new practices can be designed into these types of government programs to maximize their success for the participants, and then shared with others via open source methods.

Open source can apply to business models, as well as software, which is known as Open Innovation, and it means these models can program environments like these vendor platforms.

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