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The Inspiring Story Behind How Bhutan is Using the Cloud to Enable Sustainable Development and Social Well-being

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From wildlife conservation to keeping hospitals well-supplied, to the development of human resources, the cloud is helping the Royal Government of Bhutan write the next chapter of its digital transformation journey.

For many nations, gross domestic product is the primary measure of a society’s success. The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan gauges achievement by a different standard: gross national happiness (GNH).

The Royal Government of Bhutan’s GNH index measures a “holistic and sustainable approach to development,” prioritizing factors such as community, education, mental health, cultural heritage, and ecology. It’s a model that was endorsed by the U.N. General Assembly in 2011. Focus on GNH has enabled Bhutan to become a carbon-negative nation; nurture habitats for Bengal tigers, clouded leopards, and red pandas; and provide free healthcare to all of its 735,553 citizens.

One of the pillars of GNH in Bhutan, ranked South Asia’s least-corrupt country, is good governance. Yet as one of Asia’s least-developed nations, Bhutan needed to draw every last bit of value from public funds, while maximizing the potential of its civil servants. Turning to G Suite, it discovered powerful tools enabling communication, accountability, and cost-savings that have been vital to the mission of promoting a well-balanced society.

“G Suite collaboration tools are providing a framework that allows us to foster citizens’ happiness,” says Lobzang Jamtsho, Head of Application Division, Ministry of Information & Communication. “It’s the three C’s: collaboration, coordination, and communication. This has improved significantly with G Suite adoption.”

Freeing up resources for positive change

“When we started using Sites, we found a powerful yet simple tool that’s really a one-stop shop for sharing. You don’t have to know the development side; you just drag, drop, and build.”

—Kuenga Zam, Dy. Chief ICT Officer, Royal Civil Service Commission

From wildlife conservation, to keeping hospitals well-supplied, to the development of human resources, ensuring a correct balance between well-being and development demanded smooth coordination in the civil service. Meanwhile, everything from the cost of printing meeting agendas to investing in email servers and staff to maintain them drained resources from vital tasks such as sourcing medication.

G Suite marked a fundamental shift in the way the Royal Government of Bhutan pursued its mission, as tools such as DocsSheets, and Sites came together to provide a unified platform where team contributions could be seamlessly integrated in the cloud. It sparked a surge of cooperative vigor.

“In writing, for example, we collaborate in terms of drafting a proposal. And we collaborate with other parties,” says Lobzang. “It’s really helped us in terms of analyzing the decision-making process and promoting accountability, ownership, and transparency.”

G Suite is used today by 9,500 civil servants across all 67 government agencies. The benefits have been dramatic. In a survey of more than 800 civil servants, roughly 78% of respondents reported G Suite boosted productivity by more than 50%. About 80% said collaboration with colleagues increased more than 50%. And 85% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “my organization is more innovative.”

“G Suite has empowered both education and hospitals. We have our entire education system on the platform, all teachers and students. And processes have improved in hospitals, translating directly into an increase of happiness among citizens.”

—Lobzang Jamtsho, Head of Application Division, Ministry of Information & Communication

The Royal Civil Service Commission of the Royal Government of Bhutan organizes scholarships for civil servants to pursue long-term studies as a part of human resource development. It’s vital to the nation’s pursuit of sustainable development while preserving a unique cultural heritage.

G Suite inspired the Royal Civil Service Commission to build its own internal platform using Sites to manage scholarships, streamline processes, and boost overall HR Development Management.

“When we started using Sites, we found a powerful yet simple tool that’s really a one-stop shop for sharing,” says Kuenga Zam, Dy. Chief ICT Officer, Royal Civil Service Commission. “You don’t have to know the development side; you just drag, drop, and build. And since it’s an internal site, it helps us share from one division to another what scholarships are available for renewal.”

Human connectivity for enhancing quality of life

For the Royal Government of Bhutan, G Suite is a tool that doesn’t just facilitate better communication, it enables the whole of government to work better together. “G Suite has empowered both education and hospitals. We have our entire education system on the platform, all teachers and students,” says Lobzang. “And processes have improved in hospitals, translating directly into an increase in happiness among citizens.”

“When services are delivered better, people are happier,” adds Kuenga. “So it aligns in that way with GNH.”

Motivating team members to build a better future

Today, the Royal Government of Bhutan is writing the next chapter of its journey with G Suite, motivating civil servants to tap the platform’s creative possibilities through training programs that demonstrate why you don’t need to be an IT expert to be a digital innovator.

“We did a demo at a conference to show how we are using Sites. Our users then went forward and took that idea and built their own site,” says Kuenga. “After we show the possibilities, they have the motivation to go forward and explore.”

The next step for the Royal Government of Bhutan is to begin experimenting with Apps Script to create applications for automating workflow processes: “There’s so much potential that we haven’t explored,” says Kuenga.

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