Putting Data to Work for the Public Sector
The public sector is under intense pressure to respond to a host of challenges and crises. Accelerating insights can help agencies take decisive action and achieve their missions amid disruption.
According to Deloitte, “the value of data is determined not by the data itself but by the message conveyed, decisions made, and actions taken.” Strained budgets, limited resources, rising demand for services, and legacy IT are requiring agencies to generate greater business and mission value from their data. These trends have accelerated digital transformation beyond all expectations. As agencies adopt new technologies, platforms, and workflows, the ever growing number of data sources hold immense potential to improve operations and service delivery, but realizing that potential can be difficult. Without a self-service, enterprise analytics platform, agencies will be challenged to identify what data is most valuable to inform policy and support administrative, program, and business decisions.
Enterprise analytics: Not just for data scientists
The ubiquity of data throughout every organization offers the opportunity to inform every decision and action, but data can be overwhelming, disconnected, and difficult to share. Enabling every worker with the appropriate data access and the ability to query and analyze data as well as share their findings with colleagues and partners will accelerate and scale agencies’ insight transformation. This is a key component of a strong data culture, and a necessary step toward becoming a truly data-driven organization.
As we have learned during the pandemic, a crisis underscores the need for fast, reliable data analysis and organizations can benefit from a platform that enables employees and management to see and understand mission-critical data when it is needed most. As noted by the State of Indiana’s Chief Data Officer Josh Martin at Tableau Government Summit 2021, the pandemic drove state government to break down silos and make data available to agency decision-makers who needed insights. Access to the right information at the right time makes it easier for leaders and employees to incorporate data into their decision-making processes and regular workflows. When agencies operate with better information, and have the ability to share that information clearly and quickly, they can improve outcomes, build trust with their constituents, and achieve their missions more effectively.
Building public trust through data
Political division, social unrest, economic uncertainty, media bias, and pervasive misinformation among other factors, are threatening the public’s trust in government. More than 245 million people in the United States relied on Tableau dashboards to view COVID-19 data in their states and communities. As a result, the general public’s data acumen has improved. Public interest in government operations and expectations of easy-to-consume information are on the rise.
Today’s technology offers the ability to inform the public on agencies’ missions, and reduce the risk of government data being misinterpreted. Improving reporting with data visualizations can also reduce the administrative burden on both employees and the public. Interactive dashboards enable users to answer their own questions and lead to fewer public records and FOIA requests. A federal law enforcement agency displays mission statistics through public-facing dashboards which save the organization 14 hours per month.
Open data and transparency are vital for building public trust. Data visualizations can help close the trust gap by providing citizens the ability to see agency data, ask questions, and gain insights that are not possible from static tables, spreadsheets or text-heavy reports.
Tap into the power of data, wherever it’s stored
Data siloed in disparate systems is often a roadblock to scaling analytics across the enterprise. Organizations seeking to make data-driven decisions no longer need to wait for a lengthy IT modernization to create a unified data warehouse. Instead, utilize tools and platforms that can tap into existing data sources wherever they stand today, and accelerate insights in tandem with ongoing digital transformation efforts. Tableau’s world leading platform connects all relevant data from any legacy or modern application or business system, whether on-premise or in the cloud.
The growing recognition of data’s strategic value must drive flexible, federated data governance techniques that empower everyone across the organization. A single source of truth is essential, yet it won’t live in a single location, nor can it be adequately managed and secured by a handful of people. Organizations must take a new approach to data governance and management that pairs centrally-defined governance standards with local domain authority, enabling organizations to tap into more diverse users and areas of expertise. Without repeatable, scalable processes to ensure data is discoverable, secure, understood, and trusted, innovation is stifled and risk is not mitigated.
Fostering a data culture
Becoming a data-driven organization requires more than just the implementation of technology. It requires a fundamental shift in mindset among nearly every person at the organization. Data should be seen as integral to decision-making, and as a strategic asset that can be used to achieve organizational goals. Employees should feel empowered to ask questions of data and to share their findings. Organizations should establish practices and programs that incentivize, support and acknowledge employees who do so.
Successful organizations have established internal user communities with executive-level support that share use cases, resources, and best practices while spreading enthusiasm for analytics across teams and departments.
Providing employees of all levels effective and continuous data skills training is also essential to fostering a strong data culture. Equipping the workforce with analytics skills not only creates a pipeline of data analytics talent within any agency, but can also support recruitment and retention efforts as employees obtain experience valued in the modern economy.
As public sector leaders seek to position their agencies for the future, incorporating transformative technologies with cultural change will create resilient organizations that quickly respond to crises and achieve their missions more effectively and efficiently. Tableau is a trusted partner for hundreds of federal, state and local organizations who are harnessing the power of data to support their communities and constituents.
This content is made possible by our sponsor Tableau; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of GovExec's editorial staff.