• Jiji


Local governments are accelerating their digital transformation, and some private-sector businesses have been eager to support their efforts.

For many municipalities faced with staff shortages and declining tax revenues due to shrinking populations, undergoing a digital transformation to improve work efficiency as well as maintain and improve services for residents is a pressing issue.

Some businesses are trying to seize this opportunity by becoming actively involved in these efforts, which have also been encouraged by last month’s launch of the Digital Agency.

In July, Konica Minolta Inc. began offering services that can visualize employees’ workloads and unproductive work.

The service allows users to check the situation at other local governments.

Konica Minolta will work together with partner companies to suggest to clients measures that help improve work efficiency, such as creating work manuals and promoting paperless systems.

The company plans to establish a subsidiary specializing in promoting digital transformation at local governments by the end of this month and aims to help introduce digitalization at 100 local governments during the current fiscal year, which runs through March 2022.

Konica Minolta is also considering extending its services to regional banks.

Cogent Labs Inc., a Tokyo-based artificial intelligence startup, has developed a system called Tegaki that converts handwritten documents into digital data.

Last year, the company helped the municipal government of Yao in Osaka Prefecture improve the efficiency of digitizing a flood of documents to apply for the government’s COVID-19 cash handout program.

“Paper-based applications will continue, and official documents to be archived for the record are expected to increase,” a Cogent Labs staffer said.

“We want to contribute to digital transformation in the area of extracting information from paper documents,” the staffer said.

Meanwhile, many local governments are at a loss over how to proceed with digital transformation in their organization.

To support them, advertising giant Dentsu Group Inc. and three other companies have set up an information website that offers expertise in various areas, from acquiring budgets to changing the mentality of government heads and senior executives.

“We hope to expand our network with local governments in order to help them deal with issues such as low birthrates and regional development,” a Dentsu employee said.

The government plans to standardize local governments’ core operating systems in areas such as residential tax and child benefits by fiscal 2025.

“Even after the standardization of key systems, local governments will constantly face the need to carry out digital reform,” an employee at a manufacturing company said. “So business opportunities are expected to increase.”

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