Whether you agree with the statement about data being the “new oil” or not, there’s no escaping the fact that data is crucial to the success of today’s public sector.
Rapid digitalisation, allied to advances in technology and analytical tools, mean organisations across local and regional government, healthcare and, of course, central government, can now collect data in massive quantities and at previously unimaginable speed. Unlike oil, there’s no limit to this precious data resource!
“Data, and the insights that can be derived from it, gives public sector organisations the ability to transform their services and the way the organisation operates,” explains Dan Thompson, Head of Data services at Agilisys. “By unlocking the data being collected day-in-day-out, and applying state-of the- art analytics, evidence-based business decisions are unlocked. These improve both the efficiency and quality of services delivered while encouraging an enterprise wide view of the business rather than the traditional siloed approach.”
Powering data-driven insights
Dan points to multiple areas where data analytics can be invaluable, including but not limited to identifying specific cases in a wider group, prioritising cases based on risk or need, creating early warning tools, making better, quicker decisions and optimising resource allocation. But how do organisations tap into the value of data in order to start making better decisions and improve public service delivery and outcomes for citizens?
“Data strategy has to be at the forefront of every organisation’s drive to use data effectively,” explains Dan. “How is data currently stored, is it transactional or legacy data sets? How are they going to use it? What standardisation is needed across the organisation when it comes to creating a single point of truth? How are they going to be business driven by the data that they have? How will central data locations improve their business decisions? These are the fundamental factors, not just from an outcome perspective, but also from the technical data stacks that underpin the solutions.
“The best solutions for our customers, particularly now that the cloud first strategy is being adopted by most local authorities and local government, are those solutions that can be devised and created in the cloud. This enables existing data sets across the business to be funnelled and orchestrated into a data platform that allows for strong strategic and prescriptive decisions”.”
Agilisys, Dan explains, is seeing a lot of its public sector partners turning to data-driven insights, powered by effective data analytics platforms.
“Once you’ve got your data to the point where it’s migrated, orchestrated, cleansed, transformed, relocated, what are the opportunities going forward? That brings you into the realm of data-driven insight and true business intelligence, which is the next step in the evolutionary journey of what can you do with data.
In the realms of social care and housing, we can actually find out what the problems are, and devise outcomes, which can be reused and shared across different local authorities. This new modern platform converts data into information, readily available for analytical workloads and strong predictive outcomes. This provides opportunities to train the datasets and information stored in the Data Platform by applying machine learning and data science techniques
“The crucial element, whether you’re talking about data analytics for healthcare or local and regional government is allying deep industry and sector knowledge with broad functional capabilities and a high degree of technical sophistication. The data is all there. It just needs to be channelled, ingested and orchestrated to a central repository where it can be used intelligently.”
It comes down to strategy…
When asked how organisations can get from a position of sitting on a precious data resource to one where data is driving intelligent decision making and policies, Dan says it’s all about strategy.
“Local authorities will know the data they’re working with week in, week out and within various teams with different organisations within that unit of a local authority.
By driving understanding through a clear data strategy of what can be shared, and what can be distributed out from a central location, you will unlock the potential of data. This also enables the rollout of a new cloud-based analytical platform – that provides a very clear picture of the data sets they want to see.
“This is important. Most local authorities have business intelligence departments, they’ll have adult and child Social Care departments, they’ll have housing care departments. The issue is that they’ll all work from different feeds of data and different applications. Data comes in all different formats, fundamentally structured and unstructured data. That’s why data strategies need to create a central repository, which is underpinned by cloud technology, where data can be ingested. It also needs to involve collaboration internally, which allows the solution to be fully embraced. From that central point insight can be built up using algorithms to train the data, generating prescriptive outcomes, or predictive analysis using new business intelligence tool sets.”
Dan goes on to explain: “What you’re essentially saying is: ‘here’s your data as is, this is where we can get it to’. It’s about unlocking the potential, which fundamentally starts with not being scared and feeding those data sources into an environment that gives the local business intelligence teams, together with the local analysts, the ability to make the most of the clean data. It also gives them the opportunity to plug in the new cognitive, machine learning services, which empowers these data analysts to show the senior leadership teams or even their customers, how it can be used.
“Get to this point and it’s easy to see why data – and specifically data analytics – has the power to be truly transformative across the public sector.”