Report: Public Sector Chief Data Officers Unclear on Responsibilities

Public sector leaders must rethink tech investments and improve data literacy to seize data opportunities and innovate citizen services, says a new report by Qlik, which found that nearly one in three Asia Pacific (APAC) Chief Data Officers (CDO) felt their roles lacked clarity in job definition, job execution, or both.

Prepared by Omdia, the “Emergence of the Public Sector Chief Data Officer in APAC” report analyzed how public sector CDOs are reacting to a landscape disrupted by the pandemic and digital transformation. 103 senior public sector data executives across Australia, New Zealand, India, and Singapore were surveyed to understand their concerns, challenges, and priorities.

More support needed

The report also found that 75% of CDOs regretted not having invested more in data-driven initiatives before the pandemic hit, which will potentially impact their ability to use technology to develop better citizen services like public health.

Unfortunately, APAC CDOs still face an uphill battle in convincing their organizations of the value of data. To date, less than half (44%) of APAC organizations rely on data insights when making mission-critical decisions.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of public sector organizations have yet to 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. Moreover, 62% of CDOs felt leadership support is crucial in helping them perform in their role. 

“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, the senior vice president for Qlik in Asia Pacific.

“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 said.

Analytics and data literacy

Besides organizational support, 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.

Finally, the study also found data science (50%) and data policy (49%) as the most sought-after skills among public sector organizations. The CDOs surveyed also expressed the need for establishing a corporate culture of using data to support decisions (71%) and a more data literate workforce (68%).

“The COVID-19 crisis has been 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,” said Kevin Noonan, emeritus chief analyst at Omdia.

“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.”

Image credit: iStockphoto/Sundry Photography