Here, Shaun Collings details why leveraging relevant data, enhancing citizen trust and transforming data structures are key to data-enabled informative decision making
We all experience the benefits of data-enabled informed decision making.
You only have to check your mobile for personalised offers from your favourite brands or use a comparison site to reduce your utility bills to experience it. It is also increasingly common to opt into sharing your data so that you can receive a range of online services for free.
Relevant data can make your life easier, your daily tasks faster, and provide personalised services with a unique set of benefits. That is just in your life as a consumer. Imagine the positive impact similarly innovative uses of data could have on the lives of citizens of all ages and needs – not to mention the efficiency and cost savings it could deliver across every government department. The digitalisation of service delivery has been at the heart of government transformation strategy for the past several years.
However, as citizens-as-consumers have become accustomed to digital service offerings, they expect high quality, smart experience. This is exactly why we need to continue to enable a smarter government. One capable of delivering everything from integrated patient-centric healthcare to proactive environmental protection to integrated services that help every citizen maximise their employment potential.
Much of the ability to deliver on the promise of a smart government strategy is dependent on making data instantly available to inform better decision making. Whether those decisions are made by civil servants on the front line, by autonomous artificial intelligence, or by experienced analysts supporting government strategists, data must be ubiquitous, accurate, contextual, compliant and secure.
What’s holding data-driven decision making back?
Appreciating the benefits of data-enabled decision making is nothing new. Making it a reality is another thing entirely because there are a number of challenges that need to be addressed, some cultural, some technological. Broadly they can be categorised as follows: accessing relevant data, enhancing citizen trust and transforming data structures. Let us have a closer look at what these factors really mean for data-enabled decision making
Accessing relevant data
Without big, contextual and often real-time data, government departments will have only a limited ability to make proactive and in-the-moment decisions. Analytical techniques, including analytically driven artificial intelligence systems, rely on a healthy and consistent supply of big data. However, the exponential increase in data being produced will create storage challenges and unnecessary costs. This is why approaches such as ‘analytics at the edge’ – where data is run through analytics systems as and where it is generated – are fast gaining acceptance. They offer powerful ways to gain accurate insights that can inform real-time decisions, without having to store everything.
Enhancing citizen trust
Back in 2017, the Information Commissioner’s Office found that only 20% of the UK public had trust and confidence in government bodies and companies that held their personal data. Fast forward to 2018 and the situation has somewhat improved, but according to research by Digital Leaders, 43% of UK citizens still do not trust government bodies with their data. Certainly, citizens understand the benefits of sharing information, the latter research also highlighted that 48% of respondents believed that data sharing would lead to better services.
When the benefits of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) begin to be felt by citizens, we might see further upswing in sentiment. In the commercial sector, it’s clear that consumers readily submit more and more data once they trust brands and understand the ‘value exchange’ in doing so. Without trust, there may never be the required levels of data sharing to support informed decision-making.
Transforming data structures
The ability to put relevant data right at the fingertips of those people who need it, with consistent high performance and reliability, boils down to having the right infrastructure in place. IT leaders supporting the needs of the business know that legacy spinning disk is outdated, prohibitively expensive to maintain and does not provide the agility, elasticity and performance required by modern data-intensive workloads. It has become increasingly clear that modern IT environments need to consist of data strategies based on flexible consumption models across on-premises, hosted, and public cloud – aligning application workloads with the most effective infrastructure.
Regardless of who ‘owns’ the issue of big data and digital transformation, it will not be possible to execute the vision for data-driven decision making and evidence-based policy development on legacy technology. Building webscale applications to support new digital services, using analytics to process benefits claims, or identifying tax fraud in real-time using AI all require far greater performance and reliability than ever. They demand data-centric technologies deployed in the data centre that can support multi-cloud environments for vast scalability and cost-effectiveness.
What do we mean by data-centric architecture? It’s where a shared set of data services will enable data to be freely shared by both traditional applications, AI and webscale applications. In this way, IT leaders will enable data to be protected, shared, accessed and mined as fast as possible to enable business operations to be more effective and efficient. This is because data will be ‘hot’, that is to say, the constantly available fuel of every government organisation. But it’s not just data that is changing – so are the applications being built; now as scale-out, distributed apps. No longer do we require big compute with small attached storage.
To gain more value from data, organisations require lots of stateless compute to be available, all requiring access to the same shared pool of data. Data is the key. Data is the strategic asset, hence a new architecture built around it is now what will power and accelerate digital transformation. The final upside is that this new approach will allow organisations to radically simplify infrastructure. That is great news for government bodies that still have effectiveness, efficiency and reduced operational cost firmly front of mind.
Public Sector UK, Pure Storage
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