21 Jul 2021
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Chief data officers call for investment in data-driven decision making

By Catherine Knowles

Chief data officers in the Australia and New Zealand region are calling for greater investment in data-driven initiatives, according to a new study from Qlik.

Qlik’s Emergence of the Public Sector Chief Data Officer in Asia Pacific report finds that 75% A/NZ public sector chief data officers (CDOs) feel that the pandemic has highlighted the need for greater investment in data-driven initiatives, while 66% felt it highlighted shortfalls in their data strategy.

The report, 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 shared desire among CDOs to drive a cultural shift in their organisations towards more data-driven decision making and sharing, with key priorities focused on building data literacy and improving data sharing.

Key priorities for A/NZ 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, the key concern many CDOs face (58%) was the ability to analyse large volumes of data from multiple sources.

Interestingly, there was a significant discrepancy between Australia and New Zealand CDOs that plan to publish new data sets as open data, the report finds.

Three quarters (75%) of New Zealand CDOs are making the commitment, while only 40% of Australian CDOs have the same goal. However, both Australia and New Zealand are aligned in their belief in the need for a corporate culture of using data to support decisions, with 79% of A/NZ CDOs agreeing on this.

Similarly, 67% of A/NZ CDOs highlighted the need for a more data literate workforce. However, CDOs still face an uphill battle in convincing their organisations of the value of data.

To date, only 63% of A/NZ 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.

In addition, half (50%) of New Zealand CDOs feel leadership support is crucial in helping them perform in their role, compared with 68% of Australian CDOs.

Qlik director of industry solutions for healthcare and public sector Charlie Farah says, "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 and theres still some way to go in convincing senior leadership of the value of data.

"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."

Kevin Noonan, Omdia Emeritus chief analyst says, “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.

"There is a pressing need to reassess the public sector organisations technology investment to enable a suitable strategy to meet the new normals 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.”

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