By: Stephanie Kanowitz, freelance writer based in northern Virginia.
When it comes to big data and analytics, agencies invest most heavily in operations-related processes and cite the Internet of Things as a key driver, according to a new report.
The findings are part of a recent IDC Government Insights report titled “Business Strategy: U.S. Federal Government -- Accelerating the Pace of Change in Deploying Big Data and Analytics.” It examines data from a survey IDC conducted of 210 federal government workers in December 2015, in which 55.7 percent of respondents said they invest in operations-related processes, such as product or service development innovation, logistics, inventory, delivery of services information and benefits, facilities and equipment management and IT maintenance or use.
People-related processes, such as citizen services and case management, followed at 23.3 percent, while finance-related ones, such as budgeting and fraud prevention, came in third place at 21 percent.
What’s more, respondents reported better than expected results in all three areas from big data and efficiency projects.
IDC considers big data and analytics to be game changers for government agencies. Taken together, they make up one of the pillars of IDC’s 3rdPlatform, a set of business-transforming technologies, applications and systems. The group includes applications software, compute, analytics software, networking, storage and services.
Agencies “need to effectively evolve their big data abilities as these capabilities are becoming increasingly critical to achieving mission outcomes,” the report states. The survey shows that the top three drivers of big data and analytics are IoT (41.4 percent of respondents), workforce management (40.5 percent) and fraud and risk management (39 percent).
Although IoT is still emerging, it is expected to have “an enormous impact on many government processes,” the report states, and government agencies need to be ready to track data from sensors and analyze the information in real time. IDC forecasts that federal spending on IoT will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16.9 percent between 2013 and 2018.
Workforce management -- having the right talent now and being ready to hire in the future -- is another area agencies are leveraging big data, according to the report. The government is changing recruiters’ role so that they can make more and better use of data to determine key retention and high-performance indicators. Further, new hires across government will need big data expertise.
“In addition to big data skills, agencies are looking at mission requirements that will create thin layers or even gaps in critical skills (leadership, cybersecurity, etc.) not just in the current time frame but 5–10 years out. Many are using predictive analytics to determine where the workforce with critical skills will come from,” the report states.
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Lastly, survey respondents stressed the importance of using big data to minimize risk exposure, comply with regulations and get a high return on investment while also securing and protecting data. For instance, to help with improper payments – which rose from $105.8 billion in fiscal 2013 to $124.7 billion in fiscal 2014 – Congress has introduced the Fraud Reduction and Data Analysis Act, which the Senate passed in April. It would require the Office of Management and Budget to set guidelines for agencies to establish financial and administrative controls to identify and assess fraud risks and design and implement activities to prevent, detect and respond to fraud, including improper payments, the report states.
The bill would also require agencies to collect and analyze data on detected fraud to monitor for trends and improve prevention controls.