Each year in August, the Singaporean government has a National Rally Day - and most of them amaze me. When they dazzle, they unfold an initiative that is so imaginative and so well adopted and funded that it moves from dreamy thought to well-ground(swell)ed reality and - then they go ahead and do other things that amaze me further.
Ladies and gentlemen, my case for Singapore's positioning in the front lines of constituent relationship management (CRM) 2.0 now goes before you:
First Case: Ritz Carleton v. Service Mediocrity (2005)
Back in August 2005, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered what is actually a CRM-related (constituent relationship management) landmark speech in which he declared a "National Service Excellence Initiative" that would create a service environment along the lines of the Ritz Carleton - "ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen."
The idea was that any person who touched the shores of Singapore would be treated with an unparalleled experience that would be reflected throughout the country from the employees to the employers. They committed mucho Singaporean dollares to that effort and it paid off. Click on the links above and you can read more about it.
Second Case: National Feedback Day v. Citizen Lockout (2007)
While in Singapore in early 2007, I attended National Feedback Day with my dear friend and CRM long time guru, Mei Lin Fung, who carries a ton of Singaporean mojo. National Feedback Day is organized around citizens coming to a conference (about 6,000 attended) where they discuss the varying government reports with proposals in different areas such as housing, or transportation or education come out. There were general and proposal-specific sessions where each citizen in attendance - and those who cared to comment online - were able to discuss their thinking on the different proposals and present their counterproposals or support for the existing recommendations. The live sessions were just something to rub your eyes at. Each committee report was represented by the actual committee that put it together and wrote it and there was a scribe that took notes on all the comments made by any citizen about the content of the report. I heard hundreds of citizens get up and express very articulate thinking on why this would be good in the area of low income housing or why university education needed to be revamped along whatever specific lines they were thinking about, or why transportation would be better suited for a metro like system. Every single bit of discussion was taken down for use. Then when the feedback was done, it was incorporated into the discussion of how to revise the recommendations and the recommendations were changed accordingly. For real. No joke.
Third Case: Interactive Digital Media v. Traditional Communications (2007, 2008)
In mid-June 2007, at the Arts House New Media Forum, Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister For Information, Communications and The Arts, gave a remarkable speech that showed the level of Singapore's commitment to these valuable contemporary forms of communication. In the course of his wide ranging discussion on the importance of and the potential dangers of "interactive digital media (IDM)" as he styled it, he announced a number of initiatives through the Media Development Authority and other agencies of the Singaporean government as part of the IN2015 program. Perhaps the largest and most significant was the S$500 million investment in IDM through the universities in conjunction with a review of the Media21 framework that would incorporate significant changes to include IDM for making Singapore a state of the art media city-state.
This was further elaborated in June 2008, when Dr. Lee Boon Yang gave a progress report on the state of media in Singapore, announcing that 82.5% of Singaporean households now had broadband - though their objective was 100%. The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and the Media Development Authority (MDA), with that broadband saturation level, began a series of initiatives that were indicative of how far Singapore was committed to a 21st century business model. They were:
- Digital Marketplace - creating an environment to "hub, manage, distribute and trade digital media assets such as movies, video programmes, music and mobile content through and from Singapore." This isn't a single business. This is for an entire country. (Don't give me that "but its small" crap. It's an entire country). This one is done by the IDA who wants to engage global players in digital media.
- Digital Media Call for Proposals - This is their approach to building strategic partnerships with major companies for content. The idea is to do what they are calling Immersive Learning Media, Pervasive Media, Virtual and 3D Media, Digital Hubs and Digital Interactive Advertisements. Regardless of what each of those are - the ultimate purpose is to turn Singapore into one of the global nodes for digital media content/assets.
- Connected Games - You've read my stuff on the PC and Video game world. Singapore has a Connected Games Programme that would a. make Singapore a regional hub for online multiplayer games. That means as a distributor of the games, as a service provider for management of the games, as an access provider and host and a development center.
- A Secure and Trusted Hub - This one is technical but really important in the biggest picture being presented. The idea is to create a "national authentication framework" for access to next generation services - all those social media and connected network services and programs that I spend countless hours harping on day in and day out. They are investing $20 million Singapore from June to December 2008 to provide this secure environment. That's only the beginning for this facet.
But is that enough? Is that the end of it? Nooooooooo. This next case came to me just a few days ago via email from my above mentioned friend Mei Lin Fung.
Fourth Case: Rally Day Facebook v. Boring Unidirectional Speeches (2008)
"Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will deliver his National Day Rally (NDR) 2008 on 17 August 08 (Sunday). The NDR is the most important political speech of the year as the Prime Minister normally announces significant policies and plans at the NDR that will affect all Singaporeans. In view of this, REACH will be conducting a feedback exercise comprising various new media channels to gather public views on the Rally.
"These comprise SMS, online polls, discussion forums and blogs. We have also recently added Facebook as a new channel to solicit feedback from Singaporeans." (take a look at the left side of the screen cap of REACH's site)
Feedback The Way It Should Be
SMS. Online polling. Forums. blogs. All on a national scale and even joining Facebook groups to comment on the programs that the Prime Minister will be speaking on during rally day. This is the equivalent of going directly to the President of the United States during the state of the union address with your thinking mattering instead of the thinking of the Democratic or Republican Majority Whip(ped) or some other media stars counterpoint. The Singaporean mandate is to give you that direct channel via the media you care to use.
Here's their polling options:
"REACH will also be conducting online polls from 18 to 31 Aug 2008. You are also welcomed to visit our website at www.reach.gov.sg to participate in the online polls. The frontpage of our website will feature a Quick Poll where you can give your opinions on what you thought of the rally. Within the website under the 'Consultation Channels' link, another more detailed e-Poll will seek your views on the specific topics mentioned in the rally."
Follow the path of the last 3 years in Singapore and you'll see a country that's attempting to retool according to 21st century constituent engagement models. This is important, people! Very important because it's the first instance of a nation that I know of that's attempting as nation to transform how they actually interact with their citizens and the other constituents (other agencies, other nations) etc. and how they interact with all visitors to their shores. You'll see in myi other postings, the anecdotal evidence of their success but you have to see how much they are doing, how far reaching it is and how much they are spending on it to get an idea how seriously they are taking this.
This contains the rudiments of CRM 2.0 for the public sector. Seriously. It involves, transactional behaviors, communications and interactions based on engagement for multiple media, a cultural shift and the use of the technologies that will enable that shift.