Without a doubt, data is seen as a vital asset today for gaining insights into the market and for understanding consumer behaviour.
Data does not act alone; it plays a role in the use of technologies such as cloud services and artificial intelligence (AI). These technologies work hand in hand for managing the inflow and large volumes of data.
The modern data experience leverages the agility and innovation of multiple technologies to allow for better performance- increased productivity and efficiency of organisations.
Governments understand this and are leveraging on their large pools of data for policymaking decisions and improving citizen lives.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight on 15 January 2020, held at Amara Singapore, was attended by delegates from the public sector who shared their insights on embracing the modern data experience.
Adopting the right strategies for data management
Data is getting structured. Consumers are collecting data without even realising it. Bite-sized pieces of data are being collected by the minute, creating a drip-feed of information.
Data is recognised as the new hero, but are we trusting it, was the question posed by Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia, in his opening.
In the face of the government, bureaucratic and legal obstacles are reasons for the Public Sector having obstacles to achieving it. It is important to note that some governments are still using legacy systems for making data.
Singapore compares itself to Estonia a lot. But Singapore itself has a very deep legacy. Getting across to the line of digital transformation requires investment in new tools and systems.
Challenges will keep coming but they should be apprehended, one at a time.
“Get the right advice and then be a game-changer.”
In addition to that, looking at top management and seeking help from a trusted partner is vital to overcoming these challenges.
Data will be best used and produce the desired results when the right strategies are adopted, to maximise the use of data. Mohit put forth that “adding ice” with more innovations and ideas will be fruitful in achieving the desired outcomes.
Legacy approach is holding digital transformation back
The Digital Transformation journey is undertaken with investments made in 7 key areas which include business intelligence or data analytics solutions, artificial intelligence/machine learning, and cloud services/solutions, according to a report.
Data is at the heart of it all, impacting areas such as business analytics, cybersecurity, cloud adoption, application modernisation and DevOps, customer experience, and AI/machine learning.
The question is: how is data to be used for ensuring performance, agility, minimising cost, and reliability.
Sunil Chavan, Vice President of FlashBlade at Pure Storage, pointed out that with governments, the legacy approach to data is holding digital transformation back.
The same challenges are observed across governments and government agencies – fragmented silos, expensive to acquire, run and scale, retrofit, aging architectures, and being rigid and not upgradeable.
But these legacy infrastructures change with time, with the shift towards adopting a modern data experience. Sunil shared that there is a realisation seen in emerging markets to have optimal data centres.
Reiterating the focus of the event, Sunil said that creating the modern data experience is all about keeping it simple, sustainable, and seamless.
From a Pure Storage lens, they started with re-inventing the storage array, followed by delivering storage-as-a-service (SaaS) as part of creating the modern data experience. This includes activating real-time analytics and AI, enabling multi-cloud, accelerating core applications and modernising data protection.
“Embracing the modern data experience is about keeping things fast, using cloud, keeping it simple, and subscribing to innovation.”
Disaster recovery requires capable data centres
Understanding how digital transformation and data management have been approached, based on case studies from other countries gives insights.
Glenn Ashe, Chief Information and Technology Officer at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), shared on a few from Australia.
The AIHW is in the midst of moving its secondary data centre to a new area. The challenge it faces with its disaster recovery is that because of storage and insufficient funds, the disaster recovery centre is only able to provide 40% recovery. This will result in a slow recovery, delay of delivering reports, slowdown in incoming funding and loss of business.
An epidemic faced was the setup of a T-drive, which was meant to be a temporary drive. The misunderstanding of the purpose of the drive led to the failure of it, with the institute being down for 3 weeks. The aim now is to move up the capability of the data recovery centre to 70%.
Glenn stressed that the main drive for data is that there has to be an investment in the right technology. It is important to look at technology from the full cycle.
The Food Standards of Australia New Zealand agency took the approach of modernising their storage without downtime, through the combined usage of flash and cloud innovation. This switch of storage was made without any real disruption. All of their data was preserved when moving to a new infrastructure.
The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) is one such other organisation which adopted a “pay for the storage you need, when you need it” approach, after experiencing a data breach.
Employing Pure Storage’s services, the organisation was able to add additional storage capacities, on-demand with minimal risk and with a predictable pricing model, that AIS could easily apply to the pricing it offered to its end users.
Glenn said that although it is often being said now that “data is the new oil”, there is so much of data but not enough of an understanding of what is to be done with it. “The more data you get, the more structured it has to become,” he said.
Where are organisations at?
On the whole, the Singapore government views digital transformation and innovation as being a key IT priority. It has adopted a cloud-first initiative. Data is moved to the cloud platform for reducing maintenance costs.
Data also needs to be aggregated across different sectors for developing a common data governance approach.
Embarking on the digital transformation journey requires new IT strategies for evolving business value. Big government strategies are needed for delivering good outcomes for the people. But it is imperative to first understand new technology, to support current strategies.
New IT enablers, such as technology or people with skillsets, are important for driving these new IT strategies. Taking a look at the healthcare sector, it has a wealth of datasets. The challenge it faces with that is that as the needs of patients evolve, the fragmentation of systems and information becomes pertinent.
Digital risk is also a part of the transformation, where traditional IT strategies take 3 to 5 years to undergo changes.
Again, it is understood that the partnering of capabilities will bring more opportunities for overcoming these challenges. Solving business problems will increase business value, with IT enablers. Enhancing the customer experience is the focus but partnering capabilities is important to achieve it.
AI and Data analytics is a useful tool to adopt as it provides faster access to data to improve pre-emptive analysis. With the increasing reliance on data, AI will help to produce reports faster. But this does not translate to AI taking jobs away. It is more of job restructuring. Mindsets and culture have to change to embrace this inevitable change.
Having the tech tools for managing the data at hand is important but there are challenges that come with it. Gaining real-time insights into the data is highly common.
Data is fragmented and there is not enough sharing of it. This makes it difficult to implement in real-time. Different legacy structures of different agencies will also slow down data sharing.
Putting all this into perspective, it is understood that having a converged or aggregated infrastructure and data analytics capability are vital capabilities to possess for undergoing digital transformation.
Creating the modern data experience
Data underpins the entirety of digital transformation. The convergence of infrastructure will be an upcoming trend, though there still is confusion around it. Using the right technologies and understanding how to manage data will help to achieve the digital transformation goals. This all comes together under embracing the modern data experience.