Roles still unclear for half of APAC gov’t CDOs

Public-sector organizations in the Asia-Pacific region have yet to develop a clear understanding of the importance of data and the emerging role of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) to the group, a report from Qlik and Omdia shows. 

The report found that nearly half of APAC CDOs (47%) felt their roles lacked clarity in job definition, job execution, or both. Also, 75% of CDOs regretted not having invested more in data-driven initiatives before the pandemic hit, which potentially will impact their ability to use technology to develop better citizen services like public health.

For this report, Omdia surveyed 103 senior public-sector data executives across Australia and New Zealand, India, and Singapore.

Findings show that almost two-thirds (62%) of public sector organizations have yet to set up a data governance body, despite proof that such a body can build management support and broader awareness of the value of data in decision-making. 

Besides organizational support, CDOs cited analytics and business intelligence technology as the top resourcing priority (73%) to enable data use within their organizations. CDOs voiced technical and strategic concerns for implementing data technology, such as integrating data, finding the right technology partner, and upskilling public sector workers. 

The study found data science (50%) and data policy (49%) as the most sought-after skills among public sector organizations. Besides skills, the CDOs surveyed also expressed the needs for establishing a corporate culture of using data to support decisions (71%) and a more data literate workforce (68%).

As public sector organizations in APAC reposition themselves beyond COVID-19 in the next 12 months, data initiatives will become more strategic and outcome-focused. Key priorities include improving data quality (51%), introducing new technologies (49%), and achieving a data strategy with a one-year action plan (42%).

“There’s a multitude of resources from the community help public sector agencies, executives, and staff get started, including those offered by The Data Literacy Project,” said Geoff Thomas, SVP for Asia Pacific at Qlik. “At the same time, technology partners can consult on the most effective data strategy to inform decision-making.”

Qlik noted that though public sector CDOs have a wealth of prior experience in the broader government sector, they are relatively new to the CDO function, with 57% of CDOs having less than two years of experience in that role. 

“The COVID-19 crisis has been a watershed for CDOs in APAC, prompting governments in Asia to more efficiently use data insights to create better citizen services around public health, welfare and taxation,” said Kevin Noonan, emeritus chief analyst at Omdia.