Government Agencies Must Put Data and Analytics Front and Center for Successful IT Modernization and Improved Citizen Services

Government Must Transform to Meet Citizens’ Needs

Even before COVID-19 struck, federal government agencies recognized the need to modernize their decades old, outdated applications and technology in order to transform and improve services to citizens. The challenges of COVID-19 have greatly magnified the need for government agencies to modernize and transform. Citizens rely on the government services now more than ever, and the government’s delivery of timely, high quality citizen services has never been more essential. 

For example, citizens need authoritative information about and access to the latest, best drugs and treatments that have been vetted through FDA’s stringent processes and standards for safety and efficacy. Citizens need timely, informed, relevant, and updated public health guidance from the CDC. Citizens need rapid access to emergency stimulus and unemployment funds, while needing protection from fraudulent activities executed by bad actors trying to divert their funds. 

Providing these and other services to citizens at levels of quality and speed to meet high demands generated by the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t possible with the legacy technology the government has used for years. It  requires rapid transformation of legacy government processes. This transformation, in turn, requires access to and analysis of many new data sources.

Why Modern Data and Analytics Capabilities Matter

The quality and delivery speed of government services to citizens has always been determined by the availability of data and quality of data analysis that guide decisions. Tax refunds are a great example. Analytical algorithms automate the process of identifying and flagging potentially fraudulent returns, speeding the processing of all returns and refunds. 

Responding to COVID challenges has underscored the importance of putting a modern data and analytics platform front and center in federal government IT modernization plans to ensure not only data availability and high quality, rapid analysis, but the sharing of insights.  For example, a modern platform could enhance the CDC’s ability to gather and analyze data from multiple, diverse sources to gain analytical insights that inform their decisions regarding which public health measures would be most effective and published as guidance to slow COVID-19 transmission. 

In many cases, however, the legacy, conventional data and analytics solutions that federal agencies use today have significant limitations in capabilities, scalability, and user self-service. These limitations result in latency and after-the-fact analysis which hinder key decisions, informed action, and service delivery. 

For example, conventional technologies create an architectural wall between data sources and analytical processes and tools. This wall slows analysis, increases costs, and delays action. As a result, conventional analytics platforms are too slow and cumbersome to effectively leverage the high volumes and variety of data emerging from around the globe regarding COVID. Worse, conventional analytics platforms only address and answer known, anticipated problems and questions through static, IT-generated reports and dashboards. The combination of latency and known-problem limitations are at odds with the needs of today’s federal government agencies’ mission, which increasingly requires real-time responsiveness and answers to unanticipated questions. Putting data and analytics at the center of IT modernization plans by embracing a modern data and analytics solution enhances mission outcomes by enabling decision makers to make informed decisions faster – that is, better quality of services to citizens. 

What to Look for in a Modern Data and Analytics Platform

The right modern data and analytics platform includes technologies that provide a much broader set of capabilities than conventional solutions provided. This broader set of capabilities should enable decision makers and government service providers to not only rapidly analyze a wide variety of new and emerging data sources, but use the insights they glean to make informed decisions and drive timely action. They enable fast, reliable insights that answer unanticipated questions and simulate outcomes of alternative courses of action. These types of outcomes ensure that federal agencies realize value and positive mission outcomes from IT modernizations. 

The broader set of modern data and analytics capabilities can be grouped into four major categories: infrastructure, data management, analysis and content creation, and capabilities to share findings. 

  • Infrastructure capabilities provide the ability to exploit the power of the cloud and support building, securing, and deploying and managing cloud analytics and analytic applications, using data both in the cloud and on-premises. They enable users to connect to and ingest structured and unstructured data contained in various types of storage platforms, both on-premises and in the cloud.

  • Data Management capabilities include self-service data preparation to drag-and-drop unlimited combinations of data from different sources and the creation of analytic models. They support development of complex data models. They also enable automatic generation and curation of a searchable catalog of the information assets which promotes visibility and use of assets.

  • Analysis and Content Creation capabilities include augmented analytics and the ability to apply machine learning techniques to automatically generate insights for end users. They provide advanced analytics that are easily accessed by users. They provide data visualization and highly interactive dashboards and the exploration of data a variety of techniques, including natural language query which enables users to query data using common language and terms typed either into a search box or spoken.

  • Sharing and Use of Analytical Findings and Insights capabilities include data storytelling which combines interactive data visualization with narrative descriptions that deliver insights in a compelling, easily understood form for presentation to and use by decision makers. Sharing also includes capabilities to embed analytic content into a process or application for seamless workflow. Sharing also provides natural language generation to create rich descriptions of analytical insights and, of course traditional reporting and pixel-perfect report generation.

Putting data and analytics front and center in IT modernization plans by transitioning to a modern data and analytics platform with these capabilities accelerates the benefits and value federal agencies can reap from IT modernization initiatives and that means better quality and faster delivery of services to citizens.  

To learn more, check out our webinar with ThoughtSpot and Carahsoft on how government agencies can modernize IT with the power of a modern analytics platform.