Why it's time to pivot information governance


By Keith Nelson, Senior Industry Strategist for Global Public Sector at OpenText
Tuesday, 02 August, 2022

Why it's time to pivot information governance

The government didn’t start its digital transformation journey because of the pandemic. For instance, the launch of myGov digital service in May 2013 served as a way to make accessing personal data within Australian Government agencies easier for Australians. What the pandemic did highlight was gaps in information governance.

Government agencies store various types of data — unstructured and structured — and the volumes can be staggering. For the most part, agencies are well positioned to manage structured data, like names, dates and addresses submitted into an online form. These data can be inputted and searched through most government IT systems, and can sometimes simply be managed using Excel spreadsheets.

Unstructured data is much more complex to manage and store. This type of data comes into play when a citizen calls Centrelink, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or another government service and verbally provides the call centre representative their identification code. This type of unstructured data requires a more sophisticated information governance approach.

The public sector mission must accommodate both types of data — after all, the stakeholders who interact with government are varied and some stakeholders continue to send handwritten paper documents through the mail. The responsibility is clearly on government agencies to ensure all citizen services, no matter how structured or unstructured the data, are provided fairly and equitably.

How to manage different data

Unstructured data is difficult to manage on a regular day, let alone during peak seasons such as tax time. With the end of the financial year having just passed, the ATO would have received an eye-watering number of phone calls, resulting in mountains of unstructured data.

While the ATO can use emerging technologies like machine learning to improve its ability to forecast call centre volumes during busy periods, the missing piece of the puzzle is strong information governance.

The best approach to strengthening information governance is through the combination of data mining and text mining. Data mining handles structured data, while text mining deals with unstructured data. Neither approach uses a singular technology but instead includes a broad range of functions to gain valuable insights.

Data mining can be applied to quickly identify and retrieve information from large datasets of structured data. As a result, these data mining functions can create models that enable descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics of citizen behaviour.

Text mining can take this one step further by synthesising vast amounts of content into digestible and actionable data, allowing government agencies to better understand citizen sentiment and needs. For this to occur, the unstructured data has to be organised in a way that allows for data modelling and analytics to occur to draw the insights from customer behaviours and patterns, such as through metadata that can produce content summaries.

The citizen-centric approach

Government has always lived in a world of big data. As that big data world shifts to digital, the public sector must combine both structured and unstructured data to deliver greater visibility and richer insights into their organisation and operations. Today, government agencies need to incorporate both data mining and text mining if they want to move towards comprehensive data-driven decision-making.

To take a people-first approach when adopting and implementing stronger information governance across the enterprise, the public sector must prioritise staff, processes and culture. Change management techniques that ensure everyone in a department understands the changes made, where improvements are required and how effective these will be are key to delivering optimal citizen outcomes.

At the core of successful citizen experience is data governance. Properly utilising data allows the public sector to build a view of each citizen. This in turn simplifies complex and often outdated processes, and delivers more personal and timely citizen services. Better use of data is the basis for increased automation that improves agency services and enables employees to undertake higher value activities. More than this, it offers the potential to radically evolve service delivery models so citizens can take greater control and self-manage their interactions with public sector agencies.

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Paul Fleet

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