Analyze This: Four Fundamentals of Business Analytics

The world's most effective government agencies don't "go with their gut" to curb costs or serve the public. They use analytics.

by / June 19, 2008

Head: The use of business analytics in government can vastly improve the delivery and performance of public services. However, with the prevalence of dirty data, inaccurate information, and security concerns, it takes more than just abundant data to achieve analytics excellence. Accenture's Institute for High Performance Business notes four fundamentals required to become an analytical exemplar:

  • Leaders who "get it."
    In order to deal with the organizational changes that come with employing analytics, administrations require leaders who are passionate about analytics and fact-based decision-making. Such leaders include New York City's Michael Bloomberg, a data-driven leader who works toward long-term progress when employing analytics. When launching New York's Citywide Performance Reporting (CPR) system, Bloomberg expressed his hope that "CPR will continue to empower the people to hold government accountable long after our administration has left office."
  • Staff who love numbers.
    CIOs must embed an analytical approach into the entire organization by deploying easy-to-use tools for employees. Staff must be (or work to become) data savvy, which means that agency managers will need to hire, train, and reward employees for analytical skills.
  • Processes that revolve around facts.
    Analytical CIOs must work towards an integrated, cross-enterprise data view in order to avoid clashes over different perspectives supported by separate data. This may require extensive business process reorganization, but current tools can ease the pain of redesign.
  • Technology to capture, clean, sort and make sense of data.
    To succeed in analytics, leaders must be able to trust their data. This can be achieved through practicing zero tolerance with dirty data; using data quality software; and increasing the use of "BI appliances," Real-time BI, and right-time analytics. These analytics tools help managers to extract and analyze data quickly, allowing them to react rapidly to new information.

Increasingly, innovative public CIOs are turning to analytics to improve the delivery and performance of public services. Sophisticated analytics are rapidly finding applications in areas such as tax revenue collection, postal services, fraud detection, public safety, and health and human services.

Jeanne G. Harris
Jeanne G. Harris is executive research fellow and director of research for the Accenture Institute for High Performance Business.