Automated Intelligence’s View on Think Data for Government: Key Take Aways

Published: 25 May 2023

Reading time: About 5 minutes

Automated Intelligence recently sponsored the annual Think Data for Government conference in Westminster, London. The event brought together data professionals and suppliers from both government and the industry to engage in discussions regarding some of the key opportunities and challenges faced by public bodies and their suppliers. These discussions encompassed various topics including data strategy, the digital heap, cloud first approaches and data policy.

Chaired by Jessica Figueras and Gavin Freeguard, Think Data for Government assessed whether public bodies now possess the necessary infrastructure, resources and skills required to effectively utilise emerging approaches such as furthering the use of data and AI and adapt to new regulatory frameworks.

In our latest blog, we delve into the key take aways from this year’s conference.

Importance of Data

Jessica’s opening statement at the conference emphasised the critical role of data in today’s world and its impact on various aspects of society. By stating that “Data is the centre of everything,” she underscored the immense significance of data in shaping our lives, businesses, and governance.

The thought-provoking question raised by Jessica, “Has it opened the flood gates for fraud or terrorism?” highlights the potential risks associated with the widespread use and availability of data.

Furthermore, Jessica’s statement emphasised the pivotal role of governments in managing and utilising data responsibly. She highlighted how governments use of data is important, “it matters for economic growth, for citizen services, democracy and social justice.”

Enhancing Data

James Herbert, CEO at Pivotl and Tetyana Mykhaylyk, Head of Data and Analytics at Companies House discussed the significant transformation Companies House are undergoing in response to the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament. This bill will bring about substantial changes to the roles and responsibilities of Companies House. Tetyana, a key figure in this process, stated that this transformation is a “pivotal moment for Companies House,” as it will enable increased data sharing with government departments.

The primary objective of this transformation is to ensure that the data held by Companies House is fit for its intended purpose and undergoes regular reviews. The challenge lies in moving from having a data strategy as a mere concept to effectively implementing it in practice. To achieve this, the focus has been on establishing a data culture within the organisation, starting with people and processes. Tetyana emphasised the importance of bringing people along on this journey and fostering a sense of ownership and involvement.

This was accomplished through the formation of ‘data communities of practice’, which served as the core of the data culture initiative. Tetyana revealed that this approach led to a remarkable increase in participation, growing the team from 25 to 150 individuals. In fact, out of a total workforce of 1,000 people, approximately 15% are now members and actively engaged as data champions. This level of involvement is seen as a catalyst for transforming the overall culture of the organisation across all its departments. The implementation of this data strategy aims to address various aspects, including knowledge management and ‘demystifying data’. Additionally, Companies House is shifting its role from being a passive recipient of data to becoming a proactive gatekeeper, taking on a more active role in managing and safeguarding the data it holds.

Cloud Data

The session titled “From Cloud First to Data First,” involved discussions among Charlie Boundy, Head of Advanced Analytics, Department for Work and Pensions, Lisa Allen, Director of Data and Tech Services, Open Data Institute and Russell Macdonald, Chief Technologist, Public Sector and Hybrid Cloud, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.  They discussed the shift in focus from a cloud-centric approach to a more data-centric approach in the industry over the past decade.

It was interesting to hear Russell mentioning a recent survey report that revealed 45% of people expressed a desire to keep data indefinitely, which raises concerns about data governance. He emphasised the importance of the public sector learning from the commercial sector’s experiences and using a data-first approach to redesign services and citizen services. He also highlighted the need to use data for transformative purposes in service delivery.

Lisa Allen compared the maturity of data to that of fine wine, suggesting that data infrastructure requires appropriate policies, processes, and supporting technologies.

A key consensus among the participants was that government departments now have a greater opportunity to collaborate and align their efforts. They also agreed that cloud and data are now considered parallel and that the cloud can be used as an enabler rather than simply accumulating more data, which Charlie referred to as a “data swamp.” It was emphasised that organisations need to determine what data they truly need, what they intend to do with it, and avoid hoarding unnecessary data. Sustainability emerged as another important theme, with Russell highlighting that while all data has a cost, not all data holds value. Therefore, data efficiencies should be considered as part of a maturity model, taking into account the monetary and sustainability costs associated with data.

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The use of data by governments is instrumental in enhancing citizen services. Data-driven approaches enable authorities to understand citizens’ needs better, tailor public services accordingly, and improve overall service delivery. By leveraging data effectively, governments can provide more efficient and personalised services, leading to greater satisfaction and improved quality of life.

If you’d like to learn more about how Automated Intelligence’s cloud-native end-to-end platform for unstructured data management and governance can help your organisation, visit our website website, or drop us an email.

Furthermore, to find out how the Cabinet Office DKIM team benefited from our AI.DATALIFT platform, you can watch our Case Study Video with David Canning, Head of Digital Knowledge and Information Management.