The public sector is missing out on the benefits of business intelligence and, as a result, is limiting its ability to pick and choose the best options for modernization. At a time when most governments are working on modernizing their services, latest figures indicate that organizations in the public sector are failing to utilize business intelligence to make more informed decisions.
With only one in five public sector organizations in the US and Europe investing in business intelligence (BI), as opposed to two in five in the private sector, it is clear that the public sector does not have all the necessary information at its disposal for decision making, planning and monitoring, at a time when most governments are working on the modernization of their services.
BI can help government departments and organizations make more informed decisions by using technology designed specifically for this purpose. Public sector modernization has become a priority area for governments all over the world, with many engaged in long-term transformation projects to provide more efficient services for their constituents.
Information and communication technology (ICT) has emerged as an essential part of the modernization agenda. Technology is providing governments with new channels to engage with their constituents, to build capacity, and deliver services to their increasingly mobile workforce and population. Many are continuing with e-government initiatives in order to become more constituent-centric. Shared services, too, are gathering momentum as a means of delivering bigger and better functions. However, with the low level of investment in BI, it is not clear how options for modernizations are progressing against targets measured, and evaluated and selected.
BI software applications deliver corporate management and strategy support functionality that enable enterprises to collect and store large volumes of corporate data for business analysis and planning, enhancing the decision-making process. Additionally, BI solutions can ensure that the public sector meets its key performance indicators, as well as improve the management of its limited resources.
Furthermore, BI solutions would enable the public sector to analyze data to find patterns and trends that otherwise go unnoticed. For example, BI analytical tools can be used to search data for answers to 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 particular cases or events, investigate theories or simulate ‘what if’ scenarios. Performance management tools allow agencies to measure and track progress towards goals, whether those goals are related to resource usage, services for constituents or outright program performance.
However, Datamonitor research reveals that only 15% of public sector organizations plan to invest in BI in the next two years, while more than 28% of private sector companies intend to do so. IT security is the top priority area for the public sector with 40% planning to invest in it in the next two years. Other priorities for investment include IT framework, infrastructure and desktop management.
These findings show that the modernization effort is still mainly focused on getting the basics of IT right, as opposed to more advanced deployments, such as BI. To put it simply, the public sector is failing to benefit from BI at a time when it could use it most.
BI also matters outside the modernization agenda. When it comes to governments, every decision, no matter how simple, 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 designed for this purpose.
BI is an ideal tool not just for policy-level decision-making but also for ensuring operational efficiencies, and performance improvements. These are, after all, the goals of government modernization. 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 silos of operational information and achieve its objective of modernizing outdated working practices. However, at present, the public sector appears to be missing out on the benefits of BI and is, therefore, restricting itself from using potentially better options for modernization.