Overcoming reluctance to a data-driven culture within government

In 2017, the Chief Data Officer (CDO) role is not only one of the biggest game changers for Big Data and analytics but is already showing results, with 88% of agencies with a CDO reporting a positive impact on their data and analytics strategies. The importance of building trust and relationships within your organization, while being able to cope with high expectations is vital to the success in the role. The path a public sector leader should take to move from analogue government to analytics-driven decision-making requires following sound advice, both internally and externally, and learning from proven examples.

The organization takes its direction from the top. If there is commitment to decision making and operations based on data, that commitment must be clear in all communications emanating from the C-suite, from written messages to executive-led meetings to performance goals.

The CDO & Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) must be fully empowered to drive value from data, and such empowerment requires both responsibility and authority. At the same time, the appointing organization needs to focus on identifying talent and developing the types of capabilities needed by a data-driven organization. Data is now the lifeblood of twenty-first century government, driving policy and service development and powering decisions on the frontline. It is transforming the face of government and public services – and we intend to make the most of it.
Why should every government agency have a CDO or CAO?

The recent advances in digital technology and data analysis now offer significant new opportunities to improve the experience of the citizen, making government more efficient and boosting the wider economy. Jodi Morton, Vice President, Data Governance & Management at Freddie Mac who will be speaking at this year’s Chief Data and Analytics Officer, Government in June explains how crucial the role is becoming in today’s world: “Data is being created at an astronomical pace. The inability of an agency to govern the data to ensure high quality data for the agency, and the inability to leverage that data for insight will cripple that agency – they agency may get beat with its own data by private sector firms that make the investment in data governance and analytical platforms, diminishing that agency’s relevance and ability to establish policy” To unleash the full potential of data, a coordinated strategy that overcomes procurement obstacles while encompassing each pillar of its data-directed work is a crucial step to infuse a data-driven. Michael Peckham, Director from HHS DATA Act PMO states, “with the amount of data every organization has and continues to create daily there is a need to build as many tie-points around that data to increase its value to drive data-driven decisions. Looking at information from just a financial or programmatic perspective will provide a great deal of information. When you tie that data together you get a wealth of information that is immensely valuable to the most senior executives who need to see across all areas of their organization”
How do you drive actual value?

The real measure of a CDO & CAO’s success will be whether they help drive value from data… and prove it. Most importantly they cannot afford to be risk averse and should be ready to assess opportunities and, as appropriate, venture into new areas, through fact-driven and imagination-inspired approaches. Michael Peckham explains three tips on measuring success- “Do they understand where the key and relevant information resides (which business areas and more specifically what systems?). 2.) Are they able to get to that data and structure it in a system agnostic manner for easy retrieval? 3.) Can they readily produce information to answer the questions your organization’s leaders have by linking and arranging existing data, ultimately answering questions that senior leaders haven’t even thought of yet? “
We are indeed just at the beginning of a Big Data boom that is undeniable, irreversible and loaded with opportunity for organizations that transform themselves with data-driven
decisions. And the CDO & CAO are a crucial element in helping organizations realize and manage the full value of their information assets. It’s an imperative time for government officials in the Big Data world, so make sure to join us at the upcoming Chief Data and Analytics Officer, Government Conference taking place on June 6th-7th in Washington DC, to further debate the implications of Open Data, the importance of relationship building between Data and IT departments, key elements to construct a solid Data Governance policy within governmental agencies and much more.

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