Asia Pacific (APAC) public sector organizations have yet to develop a clear understanding of the importance of data and the emerging role of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) to the organization.
The Qlik commissioned Omdia report, “Emergence of the Public Sector Chief Data Officer in APAC”, found that 47% of APAC CDOs felt their roles lacked clarity in job definition, job execution, or both. Also, 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.
APAC CDOs still face an uphill battle in convincing their organizations of the value of data. Only 44% of APAC organizations rely on data insights when making mission-critical decisions. More worrisome, 38% of public sector organizations have 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 – and they are not getting it.
Figure 1: Does the leadership rely on data insights when making mission decisions?
Top resourcing priorities-opportunities
CDOs cited analytics and business intelligence technology as the top resourcing priority (73%) to enable data use within their organizations. They voiced technical and strategic concerns for implementing data technology, such as integrating data, finding the right technology partner, and upskilling public sector workers.
Figure 2: What resources are most important in achieving your mission?
The study found data science (50%) and data policy (49%) as the most sought-after skills among public sector organizations. 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 organizations 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 organizations understand the value of data and create a data-literate culture which enables employees to act on it,” added Geoff Thomas, senior vice president, Asia Pacific at Qlik.
He opined that CDOs don’t have to go on this journey on their own. There’s 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 added that technology partners can consult on the most effective data strategy to inform decision-making. 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 organizations. 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.
APAC public sector organizations have yet to establish the CDO function to seize data as a business opportunity. This compared to developments in the US where 71% of US public sector organizations see data governance as a priority (vs 36% in APAC).
Kevin Noonan, the emeritus chief analyst at Omdia, acknowledged the COVID-19 crisis as 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 organization’s technology investment to enable a suitable strategy to meet the new normal’s 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 realize data-driven decision-making,” he continued.