By Gregory Richards
A recent study by McKinsey Global Institute suggests that governments around the world can unlock $3 trillion in economic value by leveraging data more effectively. But most government organizations will tell you that they struggle with sharing data, with working through privacy issues, and with finding the time and skills to actually use data effectively.
In terms of successes, some organizations have established analytic offices to crunch through data. The Canada Revenue Agency and Service Canada for example, have fairly strong analytic practices in place. In the US, a variety of organizations have developed analytic approaches that improve program effectiveness and efficiency.
Despite these pockets of success, one of the key challenges is to mainstream analytics as a core process within organizations. Cultural resistance is still strong. Part of the issue of course, is that it is difficult to trust data if we are not sure of the source, and if we don’t understand how the data have been transformed. So how might an organization overcome cultural resistance to integrate analytics as a core operational process? One provincial organization (who asked not to be named) accomplished this task long before the term Big Data become popular.
Here’s the important point: they did not set out to launch a Big Data program; they set out to improve program effectiveness and efficiency and found that evidence-based decision making helped.
There were three keys to success. First, the organization had a clear mandate from the deputy head who insisted on measurable strategic goals. Second, the organization had reams of data with which to make informed decisions, but they made a significant investment in getting the data right. Third, the focus was on learning not on finger pointing.
Many departments and agencies have pockets of analytics, but it’s now time to think about embedding evidence-based decision making across the organization. The keys to success include using analytics to drive program effectiveness and to build an appropriate organizational culture that balances accountability with learning and growth.
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