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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:
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:
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.