Big Data and the Public Sector


Big data holds the key to driving businesses forward, bringing in revenue streams and helping companies to better understand their customers. However, our recent Big Data League study has shown that many companies are not ready to take on the big data challenge and reap the benefits.

We recently took a look at the worst scoring sector in terms of big data readiness, Financial Services, and here we examine the public sector, which only fared slightly better in the big data league.

The UK public sector is aspiring to achieve a digital transformation, with initiatives including GOV.UK, a drive to open up data sets and the ongoing advancement in the Government’s cloud journey. Our study showed that the public sector is more ready for big data than any other sector when it comes to IT infrastructure, scoring 68% on infrastructure readiness, while almost two-thirds of the respondents recognised the value of big data when it comes to supporting new revenue streams.

But there is still a lot of work to be done. Despite the potential for the government to save an additional £24 billion per year through use of technology, according to the recent Technology Manifesto from the Policy Exchange, there are challenges. The public sector is facing a lack of skills, and an inflexible culture thwarting future progress. To reach the maturity needed to really embrace data analytics, political and organisational silos need to be broken down and best practice shared across different areas of the public sector.

We’ve pulled out the key statistics from the report for you below, and for more information on the cultural and infrastructure challenges in the public sector, read the full sector report here. Please also feel free to join in the conversation online using #BigDataLeague with @emcuki.

  • The main public sector drivers for prioritising data analysis and its use are to support new revenue streams (60%), make more money and drive growth (46%)
  • The public sector respondents report the highest degree of infrastructure readiness for big data analytics (68%)
  • However, a quarter state that it takes days to get responses to queries that interrogate organisational data, and four weeks to prototype/iterate/build data-analysis applications
  • Public sector are making significant efforts to secure the right data skills, specifically:
    • Recruiting staff with technical IT skills (51%)
    • Retraining employees (42%)
    • Recruiting data scientists / business intelligence experts (44%)

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