Big data fueling operations, workforce efficiencies

Big data fueling operations, workforce efficiencies

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 3rd Platform, 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.

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.

About the Author

Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.

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Reader Comments

Wed, Aug 3, 2016 William Sullivan

This is a nice piece! I agree with IDC’s assessment that data and analytics are game changers for federal agencies. The report findings line up directly with many pain points we are hearing from our customers, not just in government, but across the board. They are looking to data to help solve a multitude of problems. Open source technologies like Hadoop offer cost-effective data storage and sophisticated analysis of diverse data sets. In fact, I often hear from our customers that innovation is stymied by silos of data, and as a result decisions are not made based on all the data resident in an agency. By aggregating all data in a Hadoop cluster, regardless of source or type, agencies are able to simultaneously collapse old silos while driving better decisions.

Tue, Jul 12, 2016 CyberH

Stephanie, very informative approach to big data. We are seeing an increase in businesses seeking specialized skills to help address challenges that arose with the era of big data. It is worth mentioning the open source HPCC Systems platform from LexisNexis helps to fill this gap by allowing data analysts themselves to own the complete data life cycle. Designed by data scientists, the programming language called ECL is declarative and expresses data algorithms across the entire HPCC platform. Their built-in analytics libraries for Machine Learning and BI integration provide a complete integrated solution from data ingestion and data processing to data delivery. HPCC Systems provides proven solutions to handle what are now called Big Data problems, and have been doing so for more than a decade. Their free online introductory courses allow for students, academia and other developers to quickly get started. For more info visit: hpccsystems.com

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