21 Apr 2021
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Half of APAC public sector CDOs unclear on responsibilities

By Shannon Williams

 One in two public sector chief data officers in the Asia Pacific are unclear on their responsibilities, according to a new study.

The report, from Qlik, revealed that Asia Pacific public sector organisations have yet to develop a clear understanding of the importance of data and the emerging role of the CDO to the organisation. 

It found that nearly one in two APAC CDOs (47%) felt their roles lacked clarity in job definition, job execution, or both. The report also found that 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, analyses 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

According to the report, APAC CDOs still face an uphill battle in convincing their organisations of the value of data. To date, 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

Besides organisational support, CDOs cited analytics and business intelligence technology as the top resourcing priority (73%) to enable data use within their organisations. CDOs 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%) as the most sought-after 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%).

As public sector organisations in APAC reposition themselves beyond COVID-19 in the next twelve months, 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," says Geoff Thomas, senior vice president, Asia Pacific at Qlik. 

"CDOs don't have to go on this journey on their own. Theres a multitude of resources from the community help public sector agencies, executives, and staff get started, including those offered by The Data Literacy Project," he says. 

"At the same time, technology partners can consult on the most effective data strategy to inform decision-making," Thomas adds.

"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."

APAC public sector CDOs lag US counterparts

The public sector CDO is an emerging role within APAC organisations. Though these executives have a wealth of prior experience in the broader government sector, they are relatively new to the CDO function, with 57% of CDOs having less than two years of experience in that role. 

While APAC public sector organisations have yet to 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 (vs 36% in APAC).
 

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