Since the beginning of the year, there have been a number of announcements about business intelligence (BI) implementations at UK public sector organizations. This is encouraging as BI can help government departments and other public sector organizations make better informed decisions. BI can also ensure the public sector meets key performance indicators and manages its limited resources well.
Making decisions is part of everyday life and most of us, thankfully, only ever have relatively simple ones to make. However, when it comes to government, every decision matters and even simple ones can affect the lives and livelihoods of thousands, if not millions of people. It is, therefore, essential that government departments and organizations make informed decisions by using technology that is designed for that purpose.
BI solutions enable the public sector to analyze data to find patterns and trends that may not be observable without technology. One particular BI analytical tool that is often used in central and local government is query, which allows agencies to search their data to answer specific questions. Managed queries can be defined to run on a regular basis to deliver analysis related to pre-determined metrics. Alternatively, knowledge workers can perform ad hoc queries to find information related to a particular citizen or event, investigate theories or simulate ‘what-if’ scenarios.
In law enforcement, for example, BI tools can help agencies to gain deeper insight into the underlying issues affecting crime in a particular location or neighborhood, as well as to better understand how internal resources are managed. Furthermore, patterns and trends can be identified early to stem potential crime-related problems, or deal with internal inefficiencies, or manage opportunities better for cost savings. Additionally, BI’s analytical tools enable central and local governments to plan for future events, such as budget adjustments, policy modifications or anticipated resource shortages.
Reporting is often the first use that central and local governments envision for BI solutions. BI’s reporting tools can help with regulatory compliance, for example, for freedom of information, or in delivering social services. Also, many agencies are now required to report program-specific actions and results on a regular basis, in particular where funding is provided subject to delivery of specific outcomes.
In the UK, for example, local authorities must report their progress against best value performance indicators. Performance management tools allow agencies to measure and track progress towards goals, whether those goals are related to resource usage, citizen services, or program performance.
In addition, by visualizing data in easily-understood concepts such as dashboards and scorecards, BI is more accessible to non-technical users such as government caseworkers, analysts, and other business users.
BI is an ideal tool for the public sector, not just for policy-level decision-making but also for ensuring operational efficiencies, and performance improvements. There is also much benefit to be gained from the process of implementing a strategic BI solution, which can help the public sector get rid of information silos and modernize outdated working practices.
Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)