ACCELA: Making the next leap in Smart Government

ACCELA: Making the next leap in Smart Government

Khaled W. Jaouni - Managing Director Accela Middle East and Africa – talks to us on how Accela is leveraging technology to connect citizens and governments.



Khaled W. Jaouni, Managing Director Accela Middle East and Africa.

Khaled W. Jaouni, Managing Director Accela Middle East and Africa. 

When did you get involved with the smart government technology sector? 

Over the last 4 years, I have been a part of the international expansion of a California-based government software company. Accela has been one of the most exciting ventures I have been involved with in my 20-year career in private equity and business management. Of all the sectors I have worked in, which included everything from healthcare to manufacturing, the Public Sector has been the most rewarding on a personal level. 

How has it been rewarding for you?

The work we do with government has a tangible and visible effect in improving the quality of people’s everyday lives. It was an eye opener for me to learn how much interaction actually takes place between citizens/residents and their governments on a day-to-day basis. Using technology to save people time and effort in all these interactions while keeping them informed has tremendous value and I am proud to be a part of it.

Tell us more about Accela

Accela is a leading smart government software company headquartered in San Ramon, California with offices in San Francisco, New York, Melbourne and Dubai. The company serves the public sector exclusively offering government departments a full suite of out-of-the-box turnkey technology solutions to bridge the gap between government agencies and their citizens.  Accela has a lot of experience in this niche area and boasts a formidable portfolio of more than 1,000 government agencies worldwide. 

So what smart government solutions do you offer?

The cornerstone of our offering is the Accela Civic Platform – the first-of-its-kind – is a true platform solution built exclusively for government to streamline workflow, improve transparency and increase engagement.

This platform allows governments to rapidly build and deploy applications and solutions to improve the core services of cities and national governments in the areas of land management, business licensing, permit management, public health, consumer protection, asset management, and professional licensing and citizen relationship management. The platform includes all technologies needed to effectively run back office operations, field mobile inspection, online portals, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and smartphone apps under a single integrated framework.

What do you believe differentiates Accela from other technology vendors in this space?

Our key differentiators are innovation and domain expertise. Innovation is the driver in everything we do at Accela. For example, we were the first company to launch a full suite of mobile apps for government when apps were still in their early days.  We invest heavily in R&D and have an aggressive acquisition strategy to continually keep our customers on the forefront of cutting edge technology. 

Another key differentiator is domain knowledge. There are very few companies in the world that exclusively focus on government or have the insight into citizen-to-government and government-to-government interactions that we do. Being in this industry for so many years - and serving hundreds of cities, state and national governments - uniquely positions Accela to not only understand what citizens want, but we also know what governments need and how to make it happen quickly and cost- effectively. 

Given the breadth of the governments you serve worldwide, does anything stand out in government agencies in the Middle East region?

Definitely. While we are  engaged with a number of governments around the region, I’ll take the example of the UAE specifically as we have done extensive work here with the governments of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. There is no doubt that UAE government departments are among the most focused and determined that we have seen in improving services to their citizens and residents. Government agencies we work with in the UAE exhibit an entrepreneurial outlook and attitude that is rather unique. They have participated in our annual global user conference in the US and continue to impress their peers from other governments with their innovation and approach. I believe the UAE is rapidly becoming a thought leader in this space.

Has Accela needed to customise its solutions for this region?

Not at all. The Accela platform is multi-lingual and fully supports the Arabic language. If anything, we have added features to our core product for requirements we see more prevalent in the Middle East region. An example of that is government-to-government interaction. We have an easy plug-and-play feature that allows workflow across multiple government departments without the need for a full integration. This is especially useful for No Objection Certificates and other types of approvals across multiple entities.

Given Accela’s extensive knowledge in government, do you have best practices that can be leveraged in this region?

We do have suite of best practice templates for most processes for local government. However, we never attempt to impose these on our customer but rather use them as a starting point to shorten the solution implementation time. However, I do believe benchmarks can be a very useful tool. We help our customers set objectives around services rather than process. For example, achieving a benchmark of allowing an investor to renew their business licence in less than 2 minutes using a mobile app. Other benchmarks can be around ease of business; for example, issuing a citizen with a permit that requires 6 government agency approvals through a single point of contact such as a one-stop-shop.

How do you see the smart government technology space evolving?

Technology has changed rapidly and continues to do so. Mobility, open data, and cloud technology are revolutionising government agencies large and small.

I see open data as the next big trend going forward. Governments have a lot of useful information that once shared with the public can have some transformative effects if used creatively. For example, some of Accela’s US customers have allowed access to real-time data for restaurant inspections that are consumed by business review sites such as Yelp.com. This means that the consumer not only gets to read a review on the quality of the food at a restaurant they plan to visit but can also see the hygiene rating by the city or municipality.

What are your expansion and growth plans over the next few years?

Our vision is to be the leading platform provider for government agencies of all sizes. Accela has acquired  six companies in the last year alone. This rapid growth is helping us to speed innovation, offer more robust solutions on the platform and offer our technology to more government agencies around the world. Going forward we will continue to integrate existing and new solutions on the platform.

Finally, please tell us about the bird perched on your arm.

This is “Romeo”, he is Gyr-Peregrine hybrid falcon. It combines the power and tenacity of the Gyr falcon with the Peregrine’s speed and intelligence. Falconry has strong roots in the national heritage of the UAE and has been a part of my life for many years. I have met some of the most interesting people through this sport ranging from Gulf royals to Mongolian nomads.  



More news from