Data – the fuel for the 21st century

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Data analytics, today’s hot topic, first surfaced as a discipline in 1962. The need was identified, but the technology wasn’t ready yet. Fast forward to today and the Harvard Business Review calls data scientist “the sexiest job of the 21st century.” According to IDC research, worldwide financial services alone spent $114 Billion on Mobility, Cloud and Big Data and Analytics in 2016. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go to hoist a victory flag. Let’s walk through how I am seeing analytics being used and the next frontiers along this journey, in public and private sector.

Public Sector

Open data enabled greater transparency, a key goal for governments. Around 2008, the public sector, the largest holder of data, second only to financial services, started opening up their data. Former US CIO Vivek Kundra compared this to the sharing of information in Roman Squares 2,000 years ago. Today, has an astounding 192,322 data sets available.

Open data increased productivity for employees and citizens. Developers mashed up publicly available data to build useful apps for citizens. In my days at the City of Chicago, we unveiled our first open data portal by putting Tax Increment Financing data out there, driving reduction in Freedom of Information requests.

And now analytics is driving efficiency. State of Indiana uses analytics to reduce infant mortality rate. City of Chicago uses its “Windy Grid” to make key decisions. State of Illinois has a three-pronged, enterprise approach to analytics:

  • Top-down: State’s first data practice builds 360 degree customer views, data visualization models and predictive analytics models
  • Bottom-up: Analytics Center of Excellence (ACE) is a virtual team bringing resources, knowledge and best practices together
  • Vertical interoperability: Innovation incubators (i2) allows business interoperability within similar cluster of agencies (e.g., health and human services, business and workforce) through an enterprise data sharing agreement between 16 agencies already. More to join.

On April 18th, Illinois is celebrating “Analytics In Action” day by bringing private sector and government agencies together presenting various data analytics use cases. HCSC, State Farm, Caterpillar and four state agencies will briefly discuss their analytics work.  I will post information on that momentarily. Please join us.

The next frontier for the public sector is data monetization. This is tough, but possible with appropriate use of available privacy levers.

Private Sector

Private sector took a jump start in “Big Data” and built Business Intelligence, Customer Intelligence and Market Intelligence capabilities.

  • Banks built 360 degree customer views.
  • Call center operators matched agents with the kinds of customers they’ll best engage with.
  • B2C businesses used social data analytics to understand their customers better.
  • Even dark data – data sitting in obscure servers gathering dust – became extremely useful because of the analytics and visualization tools now available. (Nicole Laskaowski:

The next frontier for the private sector is combining analytics with IoT, drones and other technologies to enable artificial intelligence. A combination of human and artificial intelligence will unlock tremendous value. CEOs and Governors must continue treating data as the fuel for 21st century transformations.

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