Data Rules Everything Around Us: Where is your data leadership?
The age of information is upon us and we are practically drowning in data.
Data has become such a powerful commodity/ tool and the way public agencies are able to wield this power largely impacts their efficiency and public perception. For how powerful and prevalent data is, it is a wonder that there are not more personnel or teams dedicated to an organization’s data governance, collection and distribution.
In our experience as a website vendor working with public agencies, we often encounter teams or a points of contacts who have been tasked with maintaining a website and coordinating all subsequent website issues and decisions, secondary to their primary job function. While we don’t expect job titles of, “Website Director”, it is a challenge to coordinate on data and digital decisions with personnel who usually do not have a clear status on the state of their organizations digital/data infrastructure. Additionally, these teams may be lacking a degree of digital literacy that would benefit the decision making process and overall timeline of the project. As a vendor, an important part of our work is providing knowledge transfer and training to the teams we work with however, without a data leader or cohesive data team in place, primary job functions take precedent and data and digital infrastructure that we started to pull into focus often fall back into disarray.
As a web design and development vendor, we try our best to build sustainable solutions that begin to coalesce disparate data channels and technologies within a single organization. However, the lack of personnel and leadership within these areas creates a multi-faceted challenge for public sector agencies that ultimately inhibit their ability to utilize data both internally with business process owners and org leadership, and externally to the public they are intending to serve.
“But we have an IT person(s)/Department”
Sure there may be an IT person(s) or department but does that really cut it? I recently read an article that had a one liner every department head should understand “Web is not IT”.
To clarify, IT professionals are often focused on hardware like updating all the office computers to the newest version of windows or maintaining company servers. Their job function may contribute to the overall tech/digital infrastructure, but just a few pieces of the data infrastructure puzzle. Website management, content creation, data analysis are all important components to an organization's digital presence as well as their internal business practices. Further, large government agencies are often awash in data that they are expected to efficiently and intuitively distribute to the public and utilize data internally to make decisions, strategies, and workflows that can improve the efficiency and efficacy of the agency.
Private companies have taken the role of data and data governance seriously and continually focus efforts on how best to utilize their data internally and externally. The result, a public that has a growing trust in the private sector and waning trust in governmental agencies.
The difference? Private companies view data governance and their digital infrastructure as integral, ongoing aspects of their operations and offerings whereas government agencies approach data and the digital space as one off special projects.
If there continues to be a void in data governance and leadership, public agencies will continue to waste money and resources and their public perception will continue to degrade.