Open Text: Data Trends and the Public Sector Show
Jos Creese, CEO CCL, June 2018
The Public Sector Show, which takes place in London this month, is always one of the bigger and most practical IT conferences and exhibitions for government digital and IT leaders and their suppliers and clients.
Amongst the many technology innovations and fashions on display, this year there is a strong ‘data’ theme emerging. This is not surprising given the focus on IT data security and GDPR, but there is more at stake for the public sector in getting the ‘data house’ in order.
For example, one of the inhibitors to cloud adoption in the public sector lies in data:
- Knowing where it is located today, and where it will be in the cloud;
- Solving data linkage and management challenges when systems are run off-premise;
- How to manage secure access based on role-based security rules to empower employees and citizens without risking confidentiality, privacy or IP;
- Manging growing volumes of data efficiently and archiving appropriately across disparate platforms.
Concerns about how to control the risks and to harness the benefits of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and targeted personalisation of services, will also hinge on strong information management and data science capability.
IT legacy constraints, which today stop the modernisation of councils, government departments and our health services, is about more than out-of-date systems that need patching or replacing. It is also about outdated IT processes, policies, practices, skills and wider architectures, which are often still optimised around systems, rather than data exploitation.
It is, in fact, data more than process and technology that is fast becoming the biggest obstacle to ‘digital transformation’ in the public sector. Without strong governance of data – data standards, linkages, use, storage, retention practices and sharing – it is hard to tackle the intransigent problems of old systems and the adoption of new methods, let alone to meet the expectations of GDPR efficiently.
One of the gaps in the armoury of our public services is having access to the tools to make this possible. Most data analysis functionality is tied up in proprietary line-of-business systems. What is needed is application-independent tools that can unlock data from its current constraints, helping to restructure and match data, dealing with data quality issues and archiving needs. This is the precursor to bringing data sets together that can build a composite picture of citizen needs and preferences.
Whilst public services employ DPOs (data protection officers) and SIROs (senior information risk owners), few yet have senior data officers (e.g. chief data officers), and although CIOs have ‘information’ in their job title, most focus more on technology and its management, whether on-premise or in the cloud.
Data will remain a blind spot for the public sector until it is treated with the priority it deserves, as an essential resource in its own right. This is the key to unlocking the potential value of information whilst managing its risks and complexities. There is a challenge here for public sector CIOs to develop their own experience and knowledge of data management; this year’s public sector show is an opportunity to do that.
For further details about compliant information management and transformation in the public sector make sure to visit the OpenText experts at this year’s Public Sector Show in London (Stand H46).