How to define a „digital state“

July 05, 2018

Matthias Lichtenthaler - Head of Digital Transformation at the Federal Computing Center of Austria - will be giving a talk at SEMANTiCS Conference. A broad variety of topics are on his agenda, such as digital identity, citizens’ privacy, change management in processes and organisations as well as rolling out digital e-government. In this interview the experienced IT and project manager talks about his vision of digital transformation for governmental institutions.


Since last year you are the Head of Digital Transformation at the Federal Computing Centre of Austria. This department was created with your accession to office. How advanced are Austria’s governmental institutions in regards to automation and technological innovation?

Austria has been a front-runner in field of e-government in the last decade, when backend automation was the challenge. In the last couple of years frontend digitalization has not been implemented sufficiently. Right now we are in the middle field of the e-Gov ranking within the EU and far behind stars like Singapore. Therefore the „Digital Transformation“ department was founded within the Federal Computing Center.


What is your vision of digital transformation for governmental institutions? What does it take to reach it beside technology?

Our vision is the digital transparency and full digital access to government for all constituencies. Citizens, companies and the administration itself will be enabled to do the „government business“ on a digital seamless plattform. Digitalization can implement the idea of government as a platform optimally. I see the technology as a precondition, but not sufficient to build this kind of digital government. Besides technology we have to solve many related social and legal issues:

  • What about digital identity and privacy of citizens ?
  • How to define a „digital state“, a new concept of digital sovereignty ?
  • How to change the processes and organisations to run a digital e-government,including new digital skills?


You have evaluated lots of technologies and software vendors in order to bring digital transformation on the road. What do you consider essential from a strategic point of view when deciding for projects and execution plans?

I consider the openness to the rapid evolution in the AI field essential. The old school silos cannot cope with the stormy pace of this field. Therefore we are looking to open, also open- source- approaches with open interfaces. This way we try to guarantee the openness to future developments and to to protect tax-money-investments


Semantic technologies are an important part of AI. Which combination of technologies is the holy grail for digital transformation?

When we focus on the citizen interface, the important technologies are Analytics-, Cognitive- technologies and Natural Language Processing (NLP) Technologies. In the „backend“ I see advanced Robotic-Process-Automation (RPA), Big-Data combined with Analytics as cornerstones of a near future strategy.


Data is the fuel of smart applications. Europe has set a new standard for data privacy. How does GDPR affect the Austrian Federal Computing Centre and your digitalization agenda?

This distinct European approach is necessary to build trust in the digitalization of a democratic government. I see that European start-ups are getting on this challenge and develop innovative anonymisation-, privacy- and security-technologies. We see a clear commitment of the Austrian administration to take an extra mile for the GDPR-requirements.


Discuss the potential of digital transformation for governmental institutions with Matthias at SEMANTiCS 2018 or listen to  him and his swing trio perform at the conference dinner. Register now!



The annual SEMANTiCS conference is the meeting place for professionals who make semantic computing work, and understand its benefits and know its limitations. Every year, SEMANTiCS attracts information managers, IT-architects, software engineers, and researchers, from organisations ranging from NPOs, universities, public administrations to the largest companies in the world.