Agencies know that success is synonymous with federal initiatives that rely on data. Knowing this, that’s why in 2020 the role of the chief data officer (CDO) became more important than ever before. And, in 2021, federal CDOs must continue to prioritize data — especially in today’s COVID-shaped world — and they can do this by making data more available, driving data literacy from the top down, and accelerating the speed at which insights are delivered.
“In today’s environment, the CDO still has a key role in making sure [agencies] have superior data management and analytics skills,” explained Joe DosSantos, Chief Data Officer, Qlik.“However, the pandemic has ratcheted up the importance of creating real-time value from data vs. the longer-term transformational efforts. Given the global instability, finding opportunity and [the ability to cut costs] wherever possible is essential to set the stage for [mission success].”
The first priority for agency CDOs is to make data more available for use. Federal agencies have gigabytes of data at their disposal, but they don’t know what insights are in all that data. The problem agencies are facing is understanding the data they have – like knowing what’s valuable and what’s not – and making it actionable.
“The CDO must champion the case for a data catalog to enable analytics on demand,” explained DosSantos.“The ability to onboard, profile, describe, secure, and potentially prepare data quickly is key to meeting analytics needs when [agencies] truly need them, not later. CDOs should examine processes to ensure data is in a constant state of readiness. This includes deploying automated onboarding and cataloging that leverages data governance, which clearly defines, classifies, and provisions data assets to people who are authorized to see it at speed and scale.”
The second way federal CDOs must prioritize data in today’s COVID-shaped world is by working to drive data literacy from the top down. Even before the pandemic, federal executives were already interested in a deeper understanding of their data to make mission-critical decisions. According to DosSantos, the pandemic made the need for data literacy in agencies more pressing.
“The CDO has a central role in guiding [each agency] toward cultivating data literate employees. It’s a strategy that, when done well, can create an engaged and loyal [federal] workforce that feels empowered, and not intimated, by data,” explained DosSantos. “Employees who are comfortable working with data help the agency [meet mission goals and provide superior service to the public they serve].”
CDOs recognize that data is key to mission success in the coming year. By building a culture of data literacy and prioritizing data availability CDOs are putting their agencies on the path to success. But there’s still more that agencies can do with data to deliver on the mission.
To learn about the third way CDOs must prioritize data in the coming year, click here.