A data initiative is underway in the U.S. Federal Government: it’s a transformation that will enable all Federal agencies to make data-driven decisions. This is no small undertaking, given the high volume and expansive variety of data that lives across disparate systems spanning multiple offices and departments. But it’s one that will have a far-reaching impact on the world and national economy.
And while there is widespread acknowledgement that harnessing the power of federal data will lead to better, more effective, and more efficient services, building a data culture is another matter entirely.
Becoming data driven takes work. It requires changes in mindsets and behavior, changes in technology, and changes in the way each agency works with data, both internally and between agencies. But with these changes come opportunities – to increase transparency, drive efficiency, and reduce redundancy and financial waste so that agencies can improve citizen satisfaction and (finally!) leverage the wealth of federal data as an asset.
3 Ways to Foster a Data-Driven Culture in Government
Shift Your Thinking
First and foremost, becoming data driven requires a change in mindset. To truly transform and become data driven, organizations must shift their thinking about data, viewing it as a benefit, not a cost center. They must invest in data in meaningful ways. And they must treat it as the valuable asset it is.
In addition, organizations must shift their thinking in how they approach data-related projects. In the Government, many departments try to “boil the ocean” by tackling all of their data initiatives, all at once. When they take this approach, they often jump straight to big data solutions without taking the time to make the (often dirty) data usable first.
A different, arguably better, approach is to start with one discrete area within the department. Take the time to ensure that the data you are using for decision-making is clean. That way, you’ll have more confidence from users and better analytics, not to mention a quick-win for your data initiative.
Evaluate Your Technology
Technology is critical when it comes to supporting data-related initiatives. Modern data management solutions include a myriad of components ranging from data prep, data pipelines, and data warehouses to data governance, data architecture, and data security.
And while all of these components are important, we believe that data mastering is mission critical.
Worldwide, private, public, and nonprofit organizations struggle with incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and out-of-date data that lives in multiple, disparate systems and siloes. It’s not a unique phenomena. But for the U.S. Government, the implications could impact tens of millions of Americans. Tackling this dirty data challenge is priority #1 for any decision making to affect positive outcomes.
That’s where data mastering comes in. Data mastering helps solve for dirty data by employing machine learning to consolidate, clean, and categorize internal and external data. And while data mastering is machine learning-driven, it keeps humans in the loop, providing them opportunities to give feedback, which makes the algorithms even better over time.
The result is that data from BI and analytics tools is cleaner, leading to better insights and giving users more confidence in the decisions they make.
Assess the Human Resources You Need
When organizations mobilize large data initiatives like the one the Federal Government is undertaking, they often assume that they need to hire teams of consultants and data scientists to be successful. This isn’t necessarily true.
While data scientists and consultants have a role to play, what’s even more important is empowering the people already in your team who know the data to manage the data. Said differently, evaluate what tools your data experts need and enable them with these tools so they can tackle the task at hand.
Data mastering solutions like Tamr can actually minimize the number of resources needed. With 15 patents across 12 families, Tamr uses AI and machine learning to clean and curate the data far more thoroughly and efficiently than any team of consultants. And, because Tamr also keeps humans in the loop, your subject matter experts can provide feedback that trains and improves the ML models, continuously improving the accuracy and efficiency of your data cleaning, consolidation, and curation.
Modernizing the Federal Government’s data practices and capabilities in order to drive data-driven decisions is a worthwhile effort. If done well, the initiative can positively impact how federal agencies serve the public. And the trickle-down effect on Local Government operations has the possibilities of creating a win-win situation for all.
By shifting the way that you think about data, employing the right technology, and ensuring that you have the right human resources onboard, you’ll be one step closer to having a true data-driven culture that can realize the immense value of your data.
To learn more about how Tamr and how our data products help public sector organizations master data at scale, please visit tamr.com.