A new report by consultancy firm Omdia and Qlik reveals that the APAC public sector lags in the field of data science and how Chief Data Officers are struggling to identify their roles and how to perform their duties in their respective organisations.
Today, Qlik and Omdia revealed in a research report that Asia Pacific (APAC) public sector organisations have yet to develop a clear understanding of the relationship between the importance of data and the emerging role of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) to the organisation. It reported that “nearly one in two APAC CDOs (47%) felt their roles lacked clarity in job definition, job execution, or both.”
It also stated “75% of CDOs regretted not having invested more in data-driven initiatives before the pandemic hit, which potentially will impact their ability to use technology to develop better citizen services like public health.”
The “Emergence of the Public Sector Chief Data Officer in APAC” report, prepared by research and consultancy firm Omdia and commissioned by Qlik, analysed the state of the public sector CDO community in APAC as governments continue to adjust to a landscape disrupted by the pandemic and digital transformation. The report surveyed 103 senior public sector data executives across Australia and New Zealand, India, and Singapore and reveals the concerns, challenges, and priorities of these CDOs.
CDOs call for more leadership support
The report disclosed that “APAC CDOs still face challenges in convincing their organisations of the value of data.”
Statistics show “less than half (44%) of APAC organisations rely on data insights when making mission-critical decisions. Almost two-thirds (62%) of public sector organisations 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. 62% of CDOs felt leadership support is crucial in helping them perform in their role.”
Top resourcing priorities: analytics technology and data literacy
In the study, besides organisational support, “CDOs cited analytics and business intelligence technology as the top resourcing priority (73%) to enable data use within their organisations. They voiced technical and strategic concerns for implementing data technology, such as integrating data, finding the right technology partner, and upskilling public sector workers.”
The study found “data science (50%) and data policy (49%) are in-demand skills among public sector organisations. Besides skills, the CDOs surveyed also expressed the needs for establishing a corporate culture of using data to support decisions (71%) and a more data literate workforce (68%).”
"The study also suggested that APAC public sector organisations have to “reposition themselves beyond COVID-19 in the twelve months as data initiatives will become more strategic and outcome-focused. Key priorities include improving data quality (51%), introducing new technologies (49%), and achieving a data strategy with a one-year action plan (42%)."
“Public sector CDOs in APAC need to help their organisations understand the value of data and create a data-literate culture which enables employees to act on it,” affirms Geoff Thomas, Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific at Qlik. “CDOs don’t have to go on this journey on their own. There are resources from the community that can help public sector agencies, executives, and staff, including those offered by The Data Literacy Project.”
He recommends “technology partners can consult on the most effective data strategy to inform decision-making.”
“APAC public sector CDOs have a real chance to apply the lessons learnt during COVID-19 to rethink how to serve citizens in new ways using data as the foundation for innovation,” Thomas explains.
APAC public sector CDOs lag US counterparts
The role of a public sector CDO is still emerging within APAC organisations, the study claims. The study says “although these executives may have prior experience in the government sector, they are relatively new to the CDO function, with 57% of CDOs having less than two years of experience.”
The study also compared the APAC public sector to the US public sector and found out in another study commissioned by Qlik that the latter is “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.”
It showed a huge difference: 71% of US public sector organisations see data governance as a priority (vs 36% in APAC).
Kevin Noonan, Emeritus Chief Analyst at Omdia, shares that the COVID-19 crisis has prompted governments in Asia to “more efficiently use data insights to create better citizen services around public health, welfare, and taxation.”
He highlighted how “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.”
Technology is only a piece of the puzzle, he says, and “leaders must better define the CDO role to realise data-driven decision making.”