Because data is such an invaluable resource, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) knows state governments must manage it properly to succeed. As a result, NASCIO is preaching the importance of data management in a series of papers, the first of which was published last week.
In Data: The Lifeblood of State Government, NASCIO says that state CIOs consider data management to be a key issue. Still, agencies and state departments have neglected it. According to NASCIO, just a “small percentage” of data is analyzed and used to improve the quality of life in ways such as “insights on citizen service delivery, improving performance and making better policy decisions.”
Although states recognize the importance of open data and data management, they still struggle to use it, because of obstacles. Citing responses to their 2014 State CIO Survey, NASCIO reports that the lack of an authoritative source and data quality impeded data use. In order to open eyes about the wonders of data management, NASCIO wants to change the way IT leaders view it. They believe it will always be useful if it’s treated more like an “asset”:
Data may be considered a tangible asset when defined as a single unit of fact that can be documented and validated. The physical tables, spreadsheets, databases, logs, journal entries, sensor readings, written notes and anything else recording those “single units of fact” might be considered tangible data assets.
Some organizations stop there in defining data and use the term interchangeably with information, but they are not really the same. Going one step further, data that has intelligence or intellectual property applied to it becomes information and information is the fuel needed by the business of government to execute programs and make informed decisions. The interpretation, method of analysis, and manner of application of an organization’s information might be considered intangible business assets.
In addition, NASCIO says that treating data as a strategic asset involves breaking it down into four categories and their positives: revenues, costs, stakeholder engagement and risks. For revenues, this strategic approach could improve forecasting and reduce invoicing mistakes. As for costs, workloads could be reduced along with the number of errors. Risks can be minimized because data can lead to more informed decision-making, and it can boost stakeholder engagement by increasing satisfaction and organizational trust. According to NASCIO Executive Director Doug Robinson, this is a continuous process.
“We are focusing efforts on data management not only because of our existing investments in data and information, but also in anticipation of the continued growth in data from a host of sources including the Internet of Things,” Robinson said in a release.