Article by Charlie Farah, Director of Industry Solutions for Healthcare and Public Sector, Qlik
COVID-19 has put the world to the test. While the private sector has adapted quickly and successfully to the disrupted landscape, the journey for the public sector is not as straightforward. Governments, in India specifically, continue to face various obstacles as they attempt to strike a balance between fending off new mutant strains of the virus and reopening the economies and societies safely.
The pandemic has tested Indian cities, exposing a fundamental problem in the country’s use of city-level data to guide policy making. Governance has been impacted by a lack of information and a mostly compliance-driven, make-shift approach to previous data-collection activities. To overcome this situation, the only universal helper that has emerged to boost government performance during COVID-19 and beyond is data. We are fighting not only a pandemic but also an infodemic – and the public sector needs a lot of data to build public trust, design the right policies and make better decisions for its citizens.
However, this need to analyse and act on large datasets, has unveiled some shortfalls in the public sector’s digital strategies. A new study by Qlik and Omdia – Emergence of the Public Sector CDO (Chief Data Officer) in APAC, revealed that APAC public sector organisations have yet to adjust to a post-pandemic landscape marked by digital transformation. 75% of APAC CDOs surveyed regretted not having invested more in data-driven initiatives before the pandemic hit, potentially impacting their ability to use technology to develop better citizen services.
Who are public sector CDOs?
For public sector organisations, the CDO functions as the general caretaker of data, responsible and accountable for all the information assets, including processes around availability, quality, security, and making data usable within and across government agencies. The data deluge, which is the biggest in APAC, makes CDOs perfect change-makers as no other chief executive can better grasp today’s data opportunities. But developing a data-driven culture is not that easy to put forward.
Data Governance- The best solution for a better governance
Many CDOs in India suggest and look forward to enabling open government data initiatives. Open government data projects aim to improve public service by making data available to trusted third parties for developing citizen services. In India, there are several datasets from government bodies and government institutions which are open to the public and can be accessed freely, such as Open Government Data Platform India. This publishes documents and data collected by the India government and are accessible to the public for use. Key to the success of such projects is data governance, the best practices framework that provides the public sector workforce with on-demand, governed access to a single source of trusted, analytics-ready data.
Steps to be initiated to build a data-driven public sector organization in India
The answer to helping the country with a potent combination of data literacy, data technology, and data strategy.
- Build a data literate workforce in the public sector. The ability to read, work with, analyse, and communicate with data has become an essential skill that empowers all levels of the public service to build knowledge, make decisions, and share data’s meaning to others. Data literacy is crucial for strengthening data governance and a workforce’s data capabilities, helping public sector agencies gain a deep, well-rounded understanding of policy issues and opportunities, and enable governments to solve more meaningful citizen challenges.
- Reworking on the technology investment plan: CDOs, along with their CIO counterpart, must often review the organisation’s existing technology investment to ensure that it is suitable to meet the current and emerging requirements of today’s evolving digital climate. CDOs cited analytics and business intelligence technology as the top resourcing priority (73%) to enable data use within their organisations and voiced technical and strategic concerns for implementing data technology, including integrating data and finding the right technology partner.
- Understand the value of data and treat it as a primary asset: Data initiatives will become more strategic and outcome-focused as APAC public sector organisations reposition themselves beyond COVID-19 in the next year. Agencies should analyse the lessons learnt during the pandemic, including implementing crisis management, business continuity, and remote working, to create better data strategies.
Develop citizen-centric services of the future
CDOs must help their organisations understand the value of data by defining their CDO role, reassessing the agency’s technology investments, and creating a data-literate culture that enables employees to act on it. With these steps in motion, CDOs enable a suitable public sector data strategy to meet the new normal’s emerging agility and innovation requirements, realise data-driven decision-making, and transform public sector entities into proactive citizen-focused organisations.