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Preparing Your Department for the Next Wave of Data Analytics – Interview with Dame Diane Robertson

5 | By  Rosie Fea | April 8, 2021

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While the public sector recognises the use of data as a strategic advantage, many Agencies and Departments; mired by legacy systems, limited economic surplus, security and privacy concerns, and inaccurate or incomplete records, struggle to make this a reality.

Recently, we caught up with Dame Diane Robertson – Executive Director of the New Zealand Data Trust and former Auckland City Mission Chief Executive – to learn more about this.

Diane says measuring outcomes is much more operationally efficacious when organisations invest in good information systems. Information management strategies not only prove a worthy investment for operational capacity, but are a boon from a citizen perspective too: “Information management has changed the way in which organisations conduct business. Organisations that invest wisely can create mechanisms for operation strategies, target marketing, investment and funding. These good information systems enable organisations to gain credibility with clients and customers, providing proactive services rather than reactive ones.”

Especially regarding 2020 and the shift to business now being increasingly conducted digitally, why is poor information management or lack of information management frameworks risky?

“Poor information systems and poor management of information systems can impact organisations ability to provide services in a reliable and consistent manner. For social and health services poor systems and poor management can impact on people’s ability to obtain the services they are entitled to, with consequence being poor or ineffective outcomes for both individuals and community.”

What are the most imperative keys to sophisticated development, integration and adoption of these frameworks?

“Frameworks and systems are only as good as the humans that manage them. Governance of Data (GoD) is of primary importance as this allows for continuous evaluation and accountability. Having a clear purpose and strategy is key to organisations being enabled to use their data more strategically.”

Privacy and trust are becoming increasingly important in the public conversation – Has 2020 increased the public’s fear of data misuse, or conversely, highlighted the need for government organisations to adopt a more holistic approach to tech efficiency and data-driven decision making?

“There is a heightened level of awareness around privacy but not a clear enough understanding of the issues of data collection, storage and use – there is little or no public discourse on this subject. Organisations are investing in using algorithms and machine learning to make decisions on social, health and justice issues – a recent example in Britain being the education algorithm for determining O levels outcomes and the welfare algorithm, these have greatly eroded public trust.”

Discerning how to introduce, fully leverage, and utilise an optimal and effective data platform is pivotal to overcoming these obstacles and delivering operational objectives. As the foundation of any data, analytics or AI endeavour, a logical and coherent data platform is a crucial first step in any data transformation journey.