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In the current age of digital transformation, people expect more from public sector organizations. Corporate giants like Amazon provide a personalized, incredibly fast, and convenient experience to customers that raise expectations for what engaging with an organization should be like. This is hard to match for government organizations that may lack the necessary data and analytics tools and skills necessary to understand citizen behavior and sentiment, to provide an enhanced citizen experience.

However, public sector organizations are slowly making the shift towards a data driven strategy. The shock of the pandemic has forced governments and other organizations to rapidly accelerate their plans for agile, technology focused strategies. This has kick started a shift from a reactive, to a proactive mindset. But why implement a robust data and analytics strategy? And how can public sector organizations support a proactive strategy with technology, what obstacles do they need to overcome? Below, I'll explore these questions in more detail.

Benefits of Implementing a Data and Analytics Strategy

Data Access

One of the key benefits of a unified data and analytics strategy is enabling an agile decision-making process that supports the delivery of effective services.  Without data and analytics capabilities, government organizations can find it challenging to make decisions with confidence, when these decisions might be based on out of date, incomplete, or even non-existent data.

Implementing a unified data and analytics strategy helps increase confidence in decisions by providing easy access to data in one centralized data layer, as well as ensuring data is always up to date with live connectivity. This means no more searching various spreadsheets, data banks, or other data storage locations to find what you’re looking for.

Additionally, it’s important to choose a solution that has embedded machine learning supported predictive capabilities to make scenario planning simple. Seeing into the future is never a bad thing and is particularly helpful when dealing with projected policy outcomes. With important insights at the tip of your fingers your organization can act fast in time sensitive decision making.

Leverage Insights

A modern data and analytics strategy also supports finding and leveraging key insights. These insights are specifically helpful for controlling fraud, waste and abuse. With one single source of truth for all data it’s simple to see exactly where inefficiencies are occurring, or where compliance is lacking and take action to fix these issues.

Intuitive analytics dashboards also allow you to understand citizen experience better through insights on citizen pain points and opinions without having to be a data or analytics expert. When citizens feel they are understood and being heard, it’s easier to create trust.

Analytic insights can also play a role in intelligent workforce management. With one strategy across all departments within your government organization, it is simple to get insights into training effectiveness, expenses, turnover rate and job readiness.

Potential Obstacles to Digital Transformation

While there are many fantastic reasons to work towards a proactive data and analytics strategy, it can be challenging to implement, especially if this is a relatively new idea to your organization. A few common obstacles public sector organizations may face include:

  • Concerns around data security when dealing with sensitive citizen information and the cloud

  • Lack of workforce skillsets in data management and analysis

  • A leadership and organizational culture that may not think data and analytics are a good investment

While perhaps daunting, these challenges are not as difficult to overcome as they may seem with the right tools and strategy.

Creating a Data and Analytics Strategy

Hybrid Cloud Solutions

Many public sector organizations have made investments into legacy on-premise data warehouses, analytics tools, or planning systems. While on-premise systems are excellent for customization, they are not the best solutions for agility and data access.

Luckily, you can have both security and agility with a hybrid on-premise and cloud solution. Considering a cloud or hybrid solution is a proven way to lower costs, speed up processes, and increase agility. In fact, early cloud adopters in the public sector space regularly see a 50% reduction in outages, and a 10-20% reduction in net costs. Portfolios such as SAP's Unified Data and Analytics - part of SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP)- make it simple to connect your existing on-premise investments with cloud solutions in order to  leverage existing systems, while still advancing into modern data and analytics.

Self-Service Data and Analytics

Data and analytics don’t have to be complicated. While some public sector organizations are working to upskill their workforce in data and analytics, it’s still possible to find and leverage insights without data analysts on the team.

SAP’s Unified Data and Analytics portfolio is built intuitively, so anyone can find insights without analytics expertise. Features such as natural language processing, automatic forecasting, and graphical modeling help business users derive insights in short periods of time. For data to be useful, it needs to be accessible to business users, not just data experts.

Data Driven Culture

Creating a culture that lives and breathes data doesn’t happen overnight, I know this from personal experience.  A great way to speed up organizational change towards a data driven culture is to show clear return on the investment in unified data and analytics systems to  government leadership. This could be anything from showing cost savings, to increased efficiency, faster time to insights, or more accurate forecasting. Getting buy-in from leadership positions is important to set the tone for other employees in the organization. It’s also crucial to leverage your data and analytics solution to ensure team members are clear and comfortable with your data and analytics strategy.

While it may take a little time, it’s imperative that public sector organizations continue taking steps into modernized data and analytics strategies. Data and analytics are absolutely integral to rebuilding trust with constituents and solving complex problems in a fast-moving .