Every citizen is an individual, with their own unique circumstances and needs. Yet for far too long governments have viewed citizens through the one-dimensional lens of the data available at a particular touchpoint. Whereas in reality, data is captured across a multitude of systems, each providing a small fragment of the information needed to best serve that person.
Over time this fractured view of citizens’ data makes it difficult to develop a complete picture of a person’s behaviours or needs, with a strong likelihood for discrepancies between different data sources. For the citizen, this leads to frustration at constantly supplying and updating personal data.
This challenge of data fragmentation isn’t just limited to how data describes people. Pretty much anything that data can describe – from assets to economic performance to transport patterns – is at risk of fragmentation should it be collected and held by more than one agency.
The problem is well recognised and is discussed in detail in the eBook Improve Agency Effectiveness and Reduce Risk with a 360-Degree View of Data, produced by Informatica, which examines the challenges facing government agencies and the need for a complete 360-degree view of trusted data.
Master Data Management
Informatica says the goals should be to achieve master data management (MDM), and sets out three key benefits in the form of helping policymakers and leaders make better decisions, supporting operations, and providing more effective services.
Informatica also recommends a five-stage approach to achieving MDM, starting with establishing a baseline and destination, creating a map of how to get there, communicating that to key stakeholders, and then constantly checking in to ensure the project remains on course.
While reaching the destination is much easier said than done, according to the technology and digital transformation specialists Capgemini, the rewards for doing so can be significant. MDM eliminates the duplicates, errors and omissions that mar the quality of data assets by allowing cross-referencing and enrichment of data.
This not only alleviates the frustrations that arise when data describes a person or asset incorrectly, but it can lead to greater certainty in the decision-making processes that make use of that data.
A 360-degree view
Capgemini also reports that bringing together multiple data sources into a 360-degree view can also help uncover critical relationships and causalities that might exist between people, assets, and other data points, allowing for new methods of measuring performance and the impact of decisions. This can lead to data being put to entirely new uses that assist both agencies and citizens, particularly through personalising government services to the needs of the individual.
This last point is becoming more and more critical in an era where commercial digital service providers have raised citizens’ expectations for personalised and effortless digital transactions. Commercial service providers long ago learned how to use first-party data to tailor marketing campaigns and enhance recommendations in support of commercial outcomes, and consumers have rewarded them with loyalty and sales.
Surety for citizens and policymakers
According to Capgemini, these same expectations are coming to apply in the public sector, and while the intentions might be different, the same processes and technologies that allow commercial organisations to bring disparate customer data together to create a single view can also be used to create a single view of the citizen.
And it isn’t just citizens that benefit. Having a single view of data means policymakers can have much greater confidence in their policies because they have surety regarding the veracity of that data from which their findings are derived. This also enables policy implementations to be far more targeted, and have less wastage, because they can have greater confidence in where policies need to be directed.
Over time this new centralised view of your data becomes a valuable resource for examining past decisions and outcomes by providing a longitudinal view of citizens’ interactions, regardless of the department or systems the interaction was recorded in. This not only provides a more seamless citizen experience when interacting with the government, but it also forms the basis for better predictions for the future and improved AI and ML insights due to the consistency of input data. Accountability is improved by reducing the possibility of data errors and enabling the outcome of decisions to be traced back to their source.
Citizens are increasingly interacting with the world through digital channels, and that means dealing with agencies in the same way. Having seen how good things can be in the commercial world, their expectations have risen accordingly. And when they see that agencies can’t even get the fundamentals right when it comes to the data that describes them, their confidence in the agency and government overall can decline.
Achieving a 360-degree view of data is no longer the impossible task it once seemed, as the tools and methodologies exist to make it possible, with more and more government departments realising the benefits of this strategic investment far outweigh the costs.
All it takes now is the vision, time, and resources to make it happen.