Globally, public sectors are overwhelmingly moving to information digitisation. This has been proven to be a catalyst and fuel for transformation within the public sector today, allowing them to understand trends, make decisions and better serve citizens. With this, though, comes the tremendous responsibility of managing and protecting data – in terms of privacy as well as safekeeping. This is done through policy, process and infrastructure.
While policy establishment is the purview of the government, it needs input from various stakeholders and experts. More so, as with cutting edge technology and solutions implications and ramifications are not necessarily, readily foreseeable.
Process and infrastructure are the other two pillars that a good data strategy rests on. Information management allows data processing techniques in the public sector to become more secure and integrated. The capacity to quickly organise, integrate and safeguard data alleviates many of the problems that agencies face, particularly when it comes to managing sensitive data and providing effective citizen services.
Information management has been proven effective in meeting the needs of the post-pandemic environment. In an increasingly VUCA environment, good data that is robustly managed and protected is essential.
The question is: How can information management improve processes in the public sector?
With the right information management solutions, governments can improve decision-making and demonstrate accountability and openness. The public sector will be able to gain insights from data to make better decisions for citizens’ economic and health benefits. Properly managing public sector information, will ensure that it remains reliable, trustworthy and promotes the use and reuse of data by both public sector entities and the general public.
Agencies will also be able to interpret structured and unstructured data insights into actions and outcomes through mastering information management methodologies. Analytics and trends will generate information-driven, actionable insights and simultaneously speed up decision-making.
Enterprise content management technologies also ensure instant access to information whenever it is needed. Obtaining this actionable result will increase decision-making speed and transparency, as well as add value to the data when it is transformed into recommendations for change.
Further, the risk of data being tempered or distorted can be mitigated if the information is automated using tools to adhere to governance and compliance protocols, as well as diminishing risk.
This was the focus of OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight which was held on 26 November 2021, which aimed to provide the latest information management tools to improve public sectors governance, compliance and security at an accelerated speed. This is a closed-door, invitation-only, interactive session with top-level executives from Singapore public sector.
Demonstrating government accountability and transparency by accelerating information
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, kicked off the session with his opening address.
Culture has shifted drastically because of Covid-19, Mohit asserts. There is a need to fundamentally relook at approaches and strategies. “Just because something is not broken does not mean it does not need fixing or changing,” says Mohit.
For him, another crisis will inevitably hit. As such, he implores organisations to think ahead, reimagine the needs of their employees and future-proof their organisations.
When it comes to information management, Mohit believes in the importance of setting and following a proper road map that is regularly monitored. Otherwise, it would be a long-term disaster. For instance, a $2 billion air traffic control system had failed due to insufficient computer memory, hundreds of LAX flights were delayed or cancelled because all computers in the airport crashed due to a bug in the En Route Automation Modernisation (ERAM) system.
“Where is data residing and how are they working for your organisation?” Mohit asks.
He believes that organisations have to relook at their strategy because the future will be different. Especially in the public sector, Mohit asserts, poor information management is something that the public sector must avoid at all costs. The lack of effective data governance is a security concern for two reasons – unstructured data and regulatory compliance issues. Bad data and badly structured data poses a security risk for the simple reason that poor data makes it difficult to detect and monitor when something goes wrong.
For Mohit, having advanced information management provides clarity on adherence to data governance. It highlights what must be done to achieve these standards and what needs to be done to continuously improve. Some principles include:
- Recognise (and manage) complexity
- Focus on adoption
- Deliver tangible & visible benefits
- Prioritise according to business needs
- Take a journey of a thousand steps
- Provide strong leadership
- Mitigate risks
- Communicate extensively
- Strive for a seamless digital employee experience
- Choose the first project very carefully
Managing such massive collection of information properly and avoiding any data breach or misinterpretation of information requires balancing compliance and efficiency when managing records, improving adequate resourcing or skill set and managing secure disposal of all information assets.
Aware of the mounting challenges, such as legacy applications and lack of skill sets for true digital transformation, he is firmly convinced that transformation should not be done alone. He urges delegates to partner with organisations with the expertise to facilitate digital transformation. Partners bring a wealth of expertise and experience that will make the journey far easier to manage and navigate.
Harnessing information management tools to deliver effective services
Randy Goh, Regional Vice President, Southeast Asia, OpenText introduced the delegates to OpenText and the solutions that OpenText can offer.
As Canada’s largest software company, OpenText is headquartered in Waterloo, Canada but they also have regional headquarters in Germany, Tokyo, the United States, and Australia. With 53 offices worldwide, they provide global coverage for our global enterprise customers.
OpenText has been delivering trusted and quality solutions for 30 years, the go-to solution for 80% of the Fortune 1000 companies who use OpenText to manage information in their enterprise. Incredibly, OpenText has over 3 exabytes of information under their management.
To put that into perspective, Amazon Web Services had 1.3 exabytes of consistently managed data at the end of 2019. Add to that 60M secure IDs, 40M endpoints and 100M end-users and OpenText’s install base translates into a world-class information ecosystem, which OpenText customers can integrate into and leverage to their advantage.
OpenText has customers across various industries such as banking and insurance, manufacturing, healthcare and the public sector in their EIM journey. With an arsenal of experience in industry solution-based best practices, along with experienced delivery and advisory resources, both OpenText’s global and local teams in Southeast Asia have helped customers achieve huge success in their EIM projects.
Before closing, Randy emphasised that OpenText is filled with a team of experienced and dedicated staff who will be able to help organisations work out the best way to manage information according to their needs.
Handing the time over to Brian Chidester, Head of Worldwide Industry Strategy for the Public Sector, OpenText spoke next on legacy IT modernisation in the government sector.
“Data in and of itself is useless, but information is valuable,” Brian opines. “The question is how can organisations can turn data into information.”
With his vast amount of experience working with governments, he projects the future of government to be focused on security, digital experience, remote work, collaboration.
Based on a study on global CIOs, Brian highlighted some of the key challenges of government, the first being the lack of information on governance policies. The second challenge is the lack of visibility of the data life cycle – knowing where the data is coming from, how it is being managed and processed. For that to occur, he notes, the policy has to be in place and the relevant technology needs to be layered in the process.
When it came to selection criteria, government agencies are searching for applications that offer ease of integration with business applications. Additionally, they are looking for solutions that do not require additional coding to configure and customise solutions.
Brian also notes that having the ability to leverage existing talent across the workforce without needing specialised talent is important.
The prevailing drivers for governments are the improvement of digital experiences and the need to integrate and align data and applications. On this journey of digital transformation, he points out the difference between an E-government, which is concerned with getting services online without a strategy, and a truly digital government that puts citizens and stakeholders at the centre of the strategy.
Brian urges delegates to recognise the reality that another crisis will eventually hit organisations. For him, being able to introduce platforms that increase the resilience of the agency is paramount if governments want to equip themselves for the challenges to come.
Achieving adaptive data governance through information management
Mitra Bhar, Chief Information Officer, NSW Education Standards Authority gave an insightful overview of the importance of information management from her perspective.
In many organisations, the responsibility for information management lies with IT. However, enterprise information management is a business-led programme that recognises information as an asset that drives better business outcomes. However, organisations face the challenge of demonstrating business value before the programme is complete. As a result, many avoid large, enterprise-wide information management (IM) programmes.
Organisations avoid large, enterprise-wide information management (IM) programmes because they are not able to demonstrate business value before the programme is complete. Mitra also observes that information management problems are approached in individual project silos, which prevents organisations from leveraging their efforts across multiple programs and limits functionality. She emphasises that the value of IM is not focused on business outcomes but individual needs analysis.
For data management solutions, Mitra advises organisations should consider seven principles, defined by the IEC 25010:
- Reliability: Encompasses lower-level attributes such as stability, availability and recoverability
- Usability: Covers areas such as “speed to learn,” as well as ease of use
- Performance efficiency: The number of computing resources needed to provide an appropriate level of performance
- Maintainability: Relates to the design attributes of the software, which make it easy (or hard) to make changes to the functionality, fix bugs and ensure the quality of service
- Portability: Covers both the portability between devices and operating systems, but also the ease with which an application can be localised for geographically specific capabilities
- Security: All attributes of the software system’s security
- Compatibility: Defines the ease and efficiency of integration provided by the software.
At the same time, Mitra adds that organisations looking into information management need to consider the organisational structure responsible for the governance of the data.
On building a secure and integrated information management system, Mitra highly encourages the integration with data governance, endpoint management, endpoint security and identity access management tools and processes to gain a complete picture of data usage. Organisations need to consider ways to improve security posture and through centralised security platforms, as well as manage, automate and enforce configuration policies consistently across the data repository.
Digital transformations and the continued adoption of cloud services mean that personal data is processed in more locations than ever. To ensure citizen confidence in the public services, organisations must automate data discovery and governance functionalities to better protect personal data throughout the data life cycle.
While privacy regulations across multiple jurisdictions have differing requirements, consent remains one of the key factors upon which personal data can be processed. On that note, new technologies are emerging that allow for organisations seeking to respect the privacy rights of individuals while using data for information sharing, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) modelling.
Speaking from experience, she believes that public services need to aspire to achieve adaptive data governance. That means having the agility to use multiple governance styles, which are sensitive to business context; enabling data innovation at both the centre and the edge; applying a flexible, dynamic governance strategy across the organisations and its ecosystems and applying distributed decision rights, both formal and informal, that are connected to business value.
Adaptive data and analytics governance enable organisations to stay safe amid data disorder through governing the right data to the right degree, allowing the best-positioned stakeholders to make governance decisions.
Mitra advises organisations seeking to improve data quality on several steps they can take to get started on improving data quality. The strategies include:
- Establish a data governance committee made up of business stakeholders to manage the broader responsibilities
- Design data quality governance principles in the lines of business units and align them with the data governance committee.
- Encourage self-service in business units through the promotion of data preparation technology. At the same time, ensure an ongoing dialogue with the business units on decisions relating to data of high value and risk.
- Build a platform for ongoing dialogue and listen to business concerns — ensure that the dialogue goes both ways. Create a forum for data quality improvement based on these interactions.
- Establish data quality improvement as an ongoing initiative, aligned to data strategy to achieve the desired business outcomes.
In closing, Mitra reiterates the areas of focus for agencies seeking to improve their organisation’s information management: governance, management structures or systems, and good data quality. Bearing in mind the data decree from a data-driven world, Mitra encourages delegates to embark on the journey by taking small steps to improve data management.
After the informative presentations, delegates participated in interactive discussions facilitated by polling questions. This session is designed to provide live-audience interaction, promote engagement, hear real-life experiences and impart professional learning and development for the participants. It is an opportunity for delegates to gain insight from subject matter experts, share their stories and take back strategies that can be implemented in their organisations.
The first poll asked what delegates deemed as their most important IT priority. An overwhelming majority indicated digital transformation and innovation (69%) as the most important priority. The rest of the delegates opted for improving efficiencies and reducing maintenance costs (19%), digital record-keeping to comply with government legislation (6%) and building resilience into their enterprises (6%).
Echoing Brian’s earlier point about turning data into information, Mohit points out that the end goal is to extract information and intelligence from data. He advises delegates to think deeply about what true digital transformation looks like in their organisations.
It is critical to put aside considerations about technology to look into business processes because “without a business case, the technology means nothing,” Mohit contends. Understanding how information management fits into the overall strategy is more valuable than blind adoption of technology.
On that note, Brian posits the importance of looking at citizen or user experience in tandem with Customer Experience (CX). To drive more power in citizen experience, one must “look under the hood to see what is powering the engine.” In other words, the goal of delivering a seamless citizen experience necessitates an examination of backend processes in CX.
He emphasises the need to provide internal stakeholders with the power to be strategic by automating mundane processes. A delegate adds that delivering personalised experiences comes down to good data management and a frictionless platform for easy access to information.
On their key initiatives in the next 12 months, delegates were split between cloud migration (29%) and AI/ML tools (29%). The others chose employee enablement (21%), followed by compliance(7%).
A delegate shares the observation that government agencies are moving data onto cloud. However, he believes that the journey of digital transformation requires looking holistically at data, design and technology – the management of data, the design of systems and processes that people use and the tools that enable digital transformation.
Mohit acknowledged that the technology already exists as a solution to problems faced by agencies but that the journey is one of “finding the right tech that fits the requirements.” To effectively do that, agencies need to understand their own needs and understand the technology through and through. The heart of the matter, Mohit believes, comes down to the skill sets of employees within organisations and being able to enlist the help of partners with a wealth of experience.
Compliance, Brian emphasises, is foundational to information management. Having the technology alone is not enough, it needs to be grounded by policy – processes enable people to utilise technology in empowering and effective ways.
Regarding challenges delegates have in managing change in data or business requirements, most delegates found employee skill sets challenging (33%), followed by the lack of flexibility or agility in current systems (27%) and time involved to make changes (20%). The remaining delegates indicated the reluctance to look at new technologies (13%) and the uncertainty around future needs (7%) as the main challenge.
Randy agrees that upskilling is a vital component of successful projects – employees need to have the capability to utilise tools at their disposal. Mitra opines that the case for some organisations might be that of legacy systems. Using state of the art platforms across those applications makes it difficult to extract data in a meaningful way that addresses business outcomes.
When asked what new IT strategy Digital Transformation would require, delegates were evenly split between evolving business value (36%) and partnering for capabilities (36%) as the main reason. The remaining delegates selected new IT enablers (26%).
Highlighting the urgency of evolving and future-proofing the next inevitable challenge, Mohit stresses the importance of leveraging partner capabilities to expand the capacities of agencies, which could help in strengthening business value.
The next poll inquired which infrastructure technology modernisation areas delegate organisations are investing in or planning to invest in support of Digital Transformation (DX)/IT Transformation (ITX) projects. Most of the delegates selected data analytics (36%), followed by deploying AI/ML tools (29%) and reducing data silos (21%). The remaining delegates selected migrating data to the cloud (14%).
Mohit believes in introducing the technology in layers after there is a shift in mindset. The process and policy need to support the taking of calculated risks.
A delegate points out that the public trust in the Singapore government is high and people expect a certain amount of quality from the government. He asserts the importance of looking at the citizens and how they are also on the journey.
On the biggest challenge in data management, most delegates indicated ‘others’ as their biggest challenge (39%). For the remaining delegates, the challenge was in real-time insights and having the ability to analyse data in real-time (23%), regulatory compliance(15%), fast accessibility in being able to get the data quickly (15%) and data loss prevention (8%).
A delegate expressed that the challenge is multi-fold. From the organisation’s objective, being able to manage information in a way that allows the organisation to channel it as an ‘engine’ is not an easy task. Aside from that, being situated in the public sector also has its own set of social responsibilities that have to be balanced.
In closing, Randy Goh, Regional Vice President, Southeast Asia, OpenText acknowledged the difficult work in the public sector because it is impossible to please everyone. He emphasised that information management is a key strategy that can alleviate the mounting pressures governments face in keeping up with citizen demands.
Having accumulated decades of experience, he is confident that OpenText is well-poised to help agencies undertake the challenging task of aligning people, processes and technology vis-à-vis organisational objectives.
Before ending the session, Randy thanked the delegates for the highly illuminating sharing and invited delegates to reach out to him and the team if they wanted to understand how they could get started on this journey with OpenText.