NASCIO: Big data is a big deal

State governments should be preparing now to make use of  big data, investing in technology that lets agencies unleash the capabilities to improve decision-making and services, according to a new report issued by the National Association of Chief Information Officers.

Big data is important to state government because of the volume, variety, complexity and variability of data produced by state agencies, according to the report, "Is Big Data a Big Deal for State Governments?"

The report describes state government as an enormous data-generation engine with great potential, based on the growth in mobile applications, sensors, cloud services and the growing public-private partnerships that must be monitored for performance and service levels, the report states.

Because many state government agencies are still being run as islands of information versus members of a single state government enterprise, they are not fully exploiting the data at hand, the report states.

Plus, other initiatives are competing for state CIOs’ attention, said Carolyn Parnell, co-chair for the NASCIO Enterprise Architecture and Governance Committee and Minnesota’s CIO.

“Big data is certainly important,” Parnell said. “But in these economic times, potential investment in big data technologies, process and discipline is competing for limited budget dollars with other essential initiatives such as legacy modernization, consolidation, deployment of mobile applications, cybersecurity and statewide broadband connectivity,” she said.

State governments must evaluate the need and the desired outcomes for any investment, including investment in big data, Parnell said. Investing in big data requires an economic business case just as any other investment. That business case must start with a purpose, the rationale and the need for investing now.

Then state governments can “determine how best to drive efficiencies in other areas to help better manage and mine the data we have,” Parnell said.

“To build the capability to exploit big data, as well as other data resources, state government must mature its data management discipline within its enterprise architecture program to prepare for the governance, management and harvesting of big data information assets,” the report states.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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