Councils ‘need to create chief data officer roles’

Councils need to consider following the lead of the private sector in creating board level chief data officer roles, according to a leading ICT analysis company.

In a new white paper, Chris Pennell, lead analyst of public sector ICT at Ovum says that councils need to consider appointing a leader at board level responsible for all information assets within their organisation.

He says that early adopters of such positions have so far come from heavily regulated industries, such as financial services, telecoms and utilities.

“But the fragmented nature of local government organisations coupled with the powerful outcomes that can be achieved from leveraging data assets could mean that councils fall next into line,” he says.

“In fact we have started to see authorities where senior IT leaders have taken on responsibilities similar to a CDO in all but name.”

A CDO would help organisations strike the balance between ICT and business needs, technology and strategy, he says. They would also manage the need to keep data management costs low, while meeting regulatory demands.

However, Pennell adds: “It is not important where the leadership comes from, be this the CEO, CFO, CIO, CDO, or a special projects team tasked with implementing data management solutions.

“But the leadership should have the authority to act and influence across the enterprise whilst having the vision in place to convince ‘application owners’ to share their data.”

The white paper says that data management in local authorities is often more complex than in the private sector because of the historic approach to procurement – “designing and building platforms to undertake specific tasks in isolation, and a risk-averse approach to the handling of data”.

But Ovum believes that “master data management” (MDM) could help councils to better target challenges that cut across several services, or to remove duplication from processes.

Pennell says: “MDM technology has gained an unfair reputation for being complicated, taking a long time to implement, and being difficult to justify in terms of value add to the business.

“The reality is that most MDM projects are poorly scoped and fail to give due consideration to the people and process issues surrounding the data improvement initiative which has an unfavourable bearing on outcome.”

However, he recommends avoiding a “big bang” approach to rolling out MDM initiatives, saying that over-ambition could lead to projects that fail to meet expectations.

Download the free white paper:  Dare to Share – Putting the ‘Data’ into Data Driven Services

Colin Marrs

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