The public sector has access to more data than ever before. While this offers unprecedented opportunities to make decisions based on real-time information, being able to effectively use and manage that data can be challenging. But, if the right steps are taken, IT leaders can be in a position to help fundamentally change the way decisions are made, dramatically improving public services.
Recently, we participated in a webinar along with public sector representatives to explore how effective use of data and analytics can reduce costs and improve end-user experience. This post highlights some of the key takeaways from that discussion, which was recorded and can be viewed on-demand.
Turning IT on Its Head
Many public sector data-led transformations fall short of success because data sets and tools have simply been lifted and shifted into new systems. David Dunbar, Head for Digital Workplace at the Department of Work and Pensions kicked off our online learning exchange by expressing that transformation begins with being prepared to scrap or replace legacy systems.
The DWP is large and complex, and Dunbar states the importance of ‘turning IT on its head’, shifting the balance from tech to people. People must be involved in all aspects of change and it’s critical to be open and communicative with different teams, ensuring any innovation is directed and user led. Organisations need to be ready to embrace continuous change while also navigating potential change fatigue. Because people are at the heart of change, it’s only when you focus on people, technology and process that the right levels of success will be experienced.
Richard Edwards at Lakeside Software reinforces Dunbar’s perspective, demonstrating the importance in recognising that, although the digital workplace is complex, users have to be front and centre of any digital workplace strategies. Edwards shares that, if you’re not able to fully monitor the end-user experience, you will not be in a position to innovate, and you’re likely to come up against higher incident volumes, an inability to deal with end-user facing issues and little or no resources available for innovation. Without focusing on the user experience of the digital workspace, you’re likely to be working from a constantly reactive stance, which will result in a sub-par experience for users. Edwards also shares how Lakeside Software is supporting many public sector organisations across all verticals, helping them measure digital experience and understand the impact that changes in IT transformation can have. This, he says, is at the heart of the public sector. So, if measuring the digital experience is going to be the new benchmark for productivity, what do you need to do to make sure you’re doing it right?
Create a Data Strategy
Mike Hansford of Dorset County Council Highways tells a great story on his council’s journey to improving road safety, saving lives as a result. He states that having a clear and simple data strategy should be the first step in your journey to working in better ways with your data. Hansford recommends that you start with an asset-specific data appraisal. You need to be willing to be honest about what you know and what you don’t. Hansford explains that it was important for Dorset highways to know every aspect of their project and what they knew about their Highways assets, such as their location, volume, condition, cost etc. He outlines the importance of staff understanding the data they are working with to better inform their work. It’s key to know what your data strategy is, to identify any gaps in knowledge and ensure that data is valid and fully understood to improve outcomes in the future.
From Unaware to Transformative
Mridiula Sori, Head of Analytical Products at NHS England and NHS Improvement presents the journey of the NHS and its data analytics journey and how data is the foundation of everything they do. Sori states that everything starts with correct data and how in the past their organisations suffered from misaligned ways of working fragmented systems, inconsistent information, delayed time to decision making etc.
Sori tells us how Gartner have created a five-level maturity model to help IT leaders in charge of business intelligence, assessing the maturity of their organisations efforts to reach their business goals. She admits that her organisations were positioned at Level 1 or ‘Unaware’. This was 5 years ago, moving the NHS to a place of reflection on how they could improve. They asked themselves, How can we align data? How can we achieve a single source of data that everyone uses? How can we create clear roles and possibilities to reduce duplication? Now, they have reached Gartner Level 5 or ‘transformative.’ Also, being reported in the BBC as ‘miracle workers’, Sori is using data in her organisation to foster success.
Clarity. Visibility. And an openness to continuous change. All of this is absolutely essential when working with data. With the right data, you’ll always make the right decisions for your organisation, ultimately shaping better public services. It’s clear: increasing levels of data brings great challenges, but, with the right approach and tools, you’ll have the capability to monitor, measure and manipulate data to bring about great opportunity.