Leaders must ensure federal agencies are data-ready


As advances in cloud computing make data more accessible, federal agencies are improving services, operational efficiencies, and government program effectiveness. The ability to make faster, more informed decisions is transformative, and the next step is to put data at the fingertips of all levels of agency operations, not just data engineers and scientists.

The question remains: are agencies ready to support a workforce fully armed with data, or could they be experiencing too much of a good thing?

While the value proposition of data analytics is clear, agencies have yet to take full advantage of it. Agency leaders continue to encounter existing barriers to shifting to this data-driven mindset, including reluctance to move away from legacy systems, lack of accessible and understandable data across operations, as well as than fear and confusion around the unknown of new processes like DataOps.

For agencies to experience true modernization and learn to embrace emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics, they need to take a more strategic approach to maximizing their most valuable asset. : their data. And ensuring their agency’s “data readiness” will be the first step.

Preparing for Success: Enabling Data Preparation

As evidenced by the priorities outlined by the Federal Chief Data Officers Council’s Federal Data Strategy, there is a real need to address the barriers that prevent agencies from making better use of their data. Agency managers can effectively navigate this widespread adoption and ensure their staff are ready to act on the data available, using a few key tactics:

Look for low-code platforms. Using low-code alternatives to current data analysis efforts eliminates the need to hire more advanced software engineers and data scientists. Look for user-friendly and efficient platforms. As more and more employees are onboarded to the platform, the organization can gradually move towards a data-centric approach.

Make data more accessible to the right people. For a workforce to fully leverage the power of data, they must first have access to data. However, this accessibility should be appropriately tailored to the user’s job function and the needs of the role. Good data means nothing if it doesn’t apply to the person who has it.

Start small. Moving to using data to its full potential can be daunting for some. To start the transition, identify small incremental opportunities where using data could mitigate pain points or solve core functions. Once employees are able to confidently use data for simple operations, slowly begin to weave data usage into larger projects and goals.

Implement data literacy programs. To properly develop existing employees, provide mandatory data literacy training to ensure employees are confident in their ability to read, understand, and apply data to their day-to-day jobs. Require sessions throughout the fiscal year to prevent skill loss.

Seek continuous improvement. It’s important to ask employees to assess their own data readiness throughout the process. Welcome their thoughts on what can be improved in your agency’s data program and how best to achieve it. Following data literacy programs, implement enterprise-wide data assessments to identify issues that need to be addressed and adjust training accordingly.

Moving from Data-Ready to DataOps

While being “data-ready” sorts the pieces of the puzzle, implementing DataOps helps your agency put the pieces together. Good data enables great DataOps. In fact, great data requires this.

DataOps, aka data operations, is an agile, process-driven approach to improving quality and reducing cycle time to realizing the value of data analytics. Similar to its better-known sister concept DevOps, it removes friction and accelerates how organizations deliver and maximize the value of key IT assets. In this case, those assets are in the organization’s data. Overall, DataOps is a strategic mindset that encompasses people, process, and technology to streamline decision-making.

Becoming data ready is an ongoing process, and it can take an agency years to develop a data strategy that works for its people and its mission. But with a clear purpose for the organization and a roadmap to get there, the transition can be streamlined, helping agency staff take full advantage of all that data can offer once it is accessible. and understandable.

Andrew Churchill is Vice President of Federal at Qlik, where he leads Federal go-to-market strategy and customer initiatives for the company. Prior to joining Qlik, he led sales efforts at Informatica and worked at Network General, Plumtree Software and Platinum Technology.

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