Empowering a Data-Driven Public Sector

Written by Daniel Searle MBA, Chief Digital & Information Officer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise

The government’s new Digital Economy Bill means the public sector will be able to share data in order to empower this data-driven economy. Of course, organisations must respect citizen data privacy and data should only be shared when there is a valid benefit – to the citizen, not the organisation – in doing so.

Delivering a data-driven public sector, however, doesn’t come without its challenges. Organisations often struggle with execution when it comes to big data. Though they are sitting on a wealth of data and opportunity, they struggle to figure out how they can extract value. In fact, many organisations realise only 10-15 percent of the expected value on their big data investments.

The reasons for this include:

  • Lack of alignment. A number of organisations don’t co-ordinate their efforts to use the latest technology and instead execute projects in isolated silos. This means they fail to create a scalable capability and can’t deliver projects that have the biggest impact on business outcomes.
  • Technology gap. Traditional systems, architectures and approaches were never designed for today’s data. They fall short on the ability to handle the scale, speed or variety of data, and can’t deliver insight fast enough to meet business needs.
  • Inability to find value in data. Just having the right tools and technology in place does not mean an organisation will get value from its data. Today, there is an operational chasm between the people and the tools. Until this gap is bridged, organisations will struggle to realise the full potential of big data.

What does a big data organisation look like?

For a start, big-data organisations can use data to predict events rather than just react to them. They do this by shifting away from a focus on information and moving towards a focus on value. This means they go beyond traditional insight and deliver predictive and prescriptive analytics.

Successful big data organisations also have full organisational buy-in. Through well-defined processes and best practice adoption, everybody should consider analytics as a tool for day-to-day management and strategic decision-making.

Thirdly, they build on their internal capability. The only way to gain value from data is to ensure employees know how to work with it and use it effectively. Staff, therefore, must receive training on how to make the most of any investment in big data and supported throughout the change.

Finally, the right technology has to be in place. Technology is an enabler for the data-driven organisation. For the investment to pay off you need to create a connected and integrated environment powered by the right tools and the right people together.

Achieving big data nirvana

Despite the challenges, when adopted right, data analytics can reap plentiful benefits for the public sector. But how do you get from a position where you are extracting a fraction of the potential value of your data to the ideal data-driven organisation described above?

It’s a big shift, but as with any challenge, it’s one that you can break down into actionable chunks:

  • Develop a strategic roadmap. Establish a value-driven strategy, test-drive different analytics capabilities and adopt an actionable path to improve business intelligence.
  • Align policy goals with relevant data. To see the value in your data you must first know what you’re looking for. Review your department goals and identify where the data can support them.
  • Create a data-centric foundation. Manage and provision all data via a modern analytics platform that optimises existing business intelligence technologies, and integrates advanced analytics into business processes and systems.
  • Increase analytics intelligence. Generate new insights and convert them into actionable, scalable and manageable results.
  • Operationalise analytics. Embed analytics directly into government operations, applications, machines and decision processes.
  • Evaluate and test. As with any big project, you must continue to test and improve the process you use. Identify where you currently are, learn how to do better and iterate through changes to discover value.

Data privacy

Handling citizen data puts a lot of responsibility on the public sector to use and protect this data in the best way possible. While the data is useful for developing better services for the citizen, they need to have confidence that it won’t be lost, stolen or shared without their permission.

To facilitate data privacy, GOV.UK has created a Privacy Officer role. The aim of this role is to ensure that the public sector ‘meets privacy obligations and user expectations’ providing a ‘focal point for decisions that may affect the use of personal data’. The Privacy Officer will work alongside the Consumer Advisory Group to ensure that the public sector upholds high standards at every stage of the service development process.

Using data to build better citizen services

One of the main challenges that public sector organisations face is delivering services that provide genuine value to the citizen. This is often down to a disconnect between the service creators and the people who will ultimately use those services. Big data could very well bridge this gap.

Data analytics would give the public sector the ability to personalise citizen experiences, adapt service delivery to meet user needs and encourage strategic decision making within government. So, if you’re within the public sector and you’re not already using big data to drive change, it’s time to start.

– See more at: https://businessvalueexchange.com/blog/2016/12/02/empowering-data-driven-public-sector/#sthash.UJmLZC0t.dpuf

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