Becoming a data driven government – Part 1

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22% of governments have adopted cognitive computing by piloting or operating services versus 26% in other industries according to a recent survey by the IBM Institute for Business Value.

Cognitive government

We have seen Government successfully move on-line in recent years to deliver multi-channel services to citizens, often by using technology platforms. Historic siloed applications are being broken down in favour of shared services. The next step is to build on this by becoming a digital government which is cloud-enabled and where processes are digitised and automated.

Our vision of a cognitive government is one where services are co-created and built on open architectures. They are personalised, easily accessible and citizen driven. Moreover, the services are adaptive and continuously learn. Ultimately, government services blend seamlessly into everyday life.

Application centricity

One of the enablers of cognitive government is becoming data driven. However, today we are constrained by application and process-centric thinking. This is limiting because organisations have disparate data initiatives and applications. Each view on the data is partial, and they are difficult and expensive to integrate and govern. Becoming a data driven government means harnessing appropriate data from across and beyond the enterprise to make better decisions in context – the context of the citizen or end user – and act with confidence.

Analysis by the Institute of Business Value has observed that to do this means:

  • keeping up with the mountains of contextual data,
  • overcoming complexity by empowering the many with the skills of the few, and
  • embracing volatility and staying ahead of ever-changing expectations.

Expectations are set by Internet companies and the latest online experiences offered by commercial organisations.

The challenge

Most organisations focus on deriving insight solely by gathering data from sources for analysis: left to right. Today’s approach is not only application centric with islands of data – even with large NoSQL systems – but also cumbersome in its approach to streamlining data pipelines. Worse than that, the systems built rarely measure the accuracy of the insights derived or their effects – how effective are the decisions made and actions taken? Neither does feedback flow from right to left – how are adjustments and improvements made by users to the sources and pipeline to sustain alignment with the evolving citizen landscape?

Benefits are not limited to the way Government provides services to citizens. Becoming data driven also improves public safety and security. Moreover, becoming data driven is essential to making artificial intelligence (AI) scale in Government, offering more automation and better anticipation.

As an aside, the Institute of Business Value finds that cognitive innovators are more focussed on using AI for value creation than cost and headcount reduction. Indeed, our Chairman asserts that AI will change 100 per cent of jobs in the next decade, and IBM is investing $1 billion in initiatives like apprenticeships to train people for “new collar” jobs.

In the second part, I shall describe five success factors for becoming a data driven government and suggest a way to get started.

Government Industry Technical Leader, Europe; Executive IT Specialist. IBM Global Markets

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