75% of ANZ public sector chief data officers felt that the pandemic highlighted the need for greater investment in data-driven initiatives while 66% felt it underscored shortfalls in their data strategy, according to a new research released by Qlik.
The report, Emergence of the Public Sector Chief Data Officer in Asia Pacific, prepared by research and consultancy firm Omdia and commissioned by Qlik, analyses the state of the public sector CDO community as governments continue to adjust to a landscape disrupted by the pandemic and digital transformation.
It surveyed 103 senior public sector data executives across Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and India to reveal the concerns, challenges, and priorities of these CDOs.
The findings point to a consensus among CDOs to drive a cultural shift in their organisations towards more data-driven decision making and sharing, focusing on building data literacy and improving data sharing.
Key data priorities for ANZ CDOs
Key priorities for ANZ CDOs over the next year include achieving a data strategy with a one-year action plan (42%) as well as improving data quality (39%). When it came to technology, CDOs were concerned (58%) on their organisation’s ability to analyse large volumes of data from multiple sources.
Interestingly, there was a significant discrepancy between Australian and New Zealand CDOs that plan to publish new data sets as open data. Three quarters (75%) of New Zealand CDOs are making the commitment, while only 40% of Australian CDOs have the same goal.
However, both Australian and New Zealand agree on a corporate culture of using data to support decisions, with 79% of ANZ CDOs agreeing on this. Similarly, 67% of ANZ CDOs pressed the need for a more data literate workforce.
More data advocacy from leadership is needed
However, CDOs find it difficult to convince their organisations of the value of data. To date, only 63% of ANZ public sector organisations rely on data insights when making mission-critical decisions.
Meanwhile, two-thirds (67%) have yet to set up a data governance body, despite proof that such a body can build management support and broader awareness of the value of data in decision-making.
Half (50%) of New Zealand CDOs feel leadership support is crucial to help them perform in their role, compared with 68% of Australian CDOs.
“The pandemic reinforces the point of view that data is critical to decision making but setting up a robust data pipeline with governance structures in place takes work. There’s still some way to go in convincing senior leadership of the value of data,” explains Qlik director of industry solutions for healthcare and public sector Charlie Farah.
“Public sector CDOs have a real opportunity to take the lessons learnt during COVID-19 to re-evaluate how to serve citizens in new ways using data as the foundation. Cross agency data sharing and promoting high rates of data literacy will be pivotal to achieving this,” Farah says.
US counterparts set the bar for ANZ to follow
While ANZ public sector organisations have yet to fully establish the CDO function to seize data as a business opportunity, another study commissioned by Qlik found that US public sector organisations are more advanced in developing strategies to establish a framework and standards for cross-agency data sharing, improving the efficiency of data collection, and secure sharing of protected data.
71% of US public sector organisations see data governance as a priority, ahead of 52% in ANZ.
“The COVID-19 crisis has been a watershed for CDOs in APAC, prompting governments in Asia to more efficiently use data insights to create better citizen services around public health, welfare and taxation,” notes Omdia emeritus chief analyst Kevin Noonan.
“There is a pressing need to reassess the public sector organisation’s technology investment to enable a suitable strategy to meet the new normal’s emerging agility and innovation requirements. However, technology is only one piece of the puzzle. Leaders must also better define and enable the CDO role to realise data-driven decision-making,” stresses Noonan.