A high-level data strategy that flows down through the organization makes it easier to tie analysis to business decisions.
Agencies can better drive business outcomes when they have a formal data analytics strategy and a culture where data infuses decision-making, panelists said during a Feb. 28 Gartner webinar.
"A formal strategy is a huge driver for supporting the decision-making and the organizational capabilities of our knowledge workers," Gartner Senior Principal Analyst Amanda Pagay said. "The second most common driver for focusing in on strategy is creating an information-driven culture."
That includes ensuring that the entire organization views data as an asset that informs decision-making and innovation rather than a box-checking exercise. There are plenty of reasons to value data and analytics, "but the decision-making piece is a huge driver for why we actually care about data strategy,” she said.
Because it can be difficult for government agencies to identify their top data and analytics priorities amid competing priorities and regulatory requirements, Gartner developed a self-assessment tool.
The tool benchmarks maturity levels across seven objectives that are currently resonating with data and analytics leaders, Gartner experts said. It is designed to help organizations establish a maturity baseline, prioritize and sequence activities for improvement and benchmark their performance against peers. Each objective is broken into four steps from vision to implementation, which Gartner experts said is the No. 1 challenge in government.
This scale is primarily designed to help leaders narrow down the scope of their mission-critical priorities, Pagay said, but she explained that gauging relative data maturity by comparing progress to peers and looking at organizational benchmarks is also beneficial in measuring success.
The most important benchmark, however, is where an agency stands against its own priorities, Pagay said. This tool, she explained, will help agencies answer questions like, How can we make a case for further action to leadership? How do we use diagnostics to help us to make that case? Are we all on the same page? Are there places where we need further discussion?
The goal, Gartner panelists said, is to create an organization that is infused with data and analytics, rather than building strictly a data or analytics strategy.
“It is much more helpful to start from the top down and think about what your high-level strategy is and then trace your way back down,” Pagay said. “Likely, those foundational investments will be there. It is a lot easier to communicate urgency with your stakeholders for some less-than-interesting sounding investments if you're able to tie it back to what they care about, getting their decisions and their analyses done.”