Burt meets tech titans in Davos
David Burt says his trip to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland has been more fruitful than he had expected.
Speaking from Davos today, the Premier said he had spoken with leaders of some of the world's largest technology companies, including Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, Google's parent company, and Bill McDermott, chief executive officer of SAP, an enterprise application software and database giant.
He declined to give detail on those conversations, but hinted that the connections made would help Bermuda to progress with the aim of utilising technology to make Government more efficient — and added that related announcements were in the pipeline.
Mr Burt also spoke with Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco, about the importance of the Cisco Network Academy and its role with the Bermuda College, in bringing better technology training to the island.
“It's always difficult for me to travel, as I have a young family — however, this has turned out to be incredibly worthwhile,” Mr Burt said.
“I've made excellent connections in the technology world. It's not every day you get to meet CEOs of some of the largest tech companies in the world, the people making decisions about how the future will look.
“Bermuda has a wonderful reputation and the responsibility of our government is to grow that reputation and foster an era of growth, and to make sure our government is ready and our citizens are ready for that future.”
Mr Burt said the Government planned to invest in IT infrastructure to improve efficiency and better serve the island's citizens and companies. Government also needed to do a better job of collecting data, he said, data that could be used to better inform decisions.
“We need to make those investments now,” Mr Burt added, in order to avoid legacy inefficiencies that would be a drag on growth.
Mr Burt did not elaborate. However, comments he made at the Alternative Investment Managers Association breakfast event last Friday help to shed light on the technology-driven efficiency he has in mind.
At the event, he shared how, in his role as Minister of Finance, he had refused to approve the hiring of a parking ticket clerk.
In 2003, he said he had suggested an online payment system for parking tickets and was told that this would be implemented within a year. It never was.
“And here I am, in 2018, as finance minister, being asked to approve a position for a parking ticket clerk, so people can come into Magistrates' Court and pay their fines, because they can't pay them online,” he said. “Needless to say, I did not approve that post.
“We have to be committed to not going the same way about doing business. We have to not only make the saving by not hiring for the post, but also we have to make the investment that will ensure we have more efficient services.”
Mr Burt, who has a master's degree in information systems development and founded an IT consultancy firm, said his knowledge of technology was unfortunate for those in Government's IT department.
He added: “I've had people in my office who say, ‘Mr Premier, we can't do that', and all the rest and I say to them with a slightly sarcastic tone, ‘I could do that in a day and I expect people who get paid a lot of money to get these things done'.”