Big data is great — BUT only when the information is accurate

Big Data -- it's the latest buzz word making its way across government. "Trends emerge and they get labeled. Provider flock to the new label, align themselves and say, 'look we've always been doing this,'" says Paul Wohlleben the President of Wohlleben consulting and a former federal CIO. But what really is Big Data? Wohlleben says for government, big data is, "huge quantities of quality and vetted government data. That data can then be used to influence decisions and improve both the efficiency and quality of government products and processes." Wohlleben told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that the big data fad won't be going away anytime soon. Two Big Ways the Government can use Big Data
  1. Improve efficiencies: use data to better understanding performance and results, data could help prevent fraud, and prevent loss
  2. Make Government less reactive more proactive: better tailor government benefits; improve the science that underlies regulations; reduce the cycle time of enforcement actions — all of these would improve the performance of government and help manage its cost.
"The most important factor in whether big data will be a success is the quality of the data," said Wohlleben, "If the military is using big data sets to determine a drone attack that information better be accurate or there could be deadly repercussions." Biggest Big Data Barriers: 
  • Timeliness: Some standards and investment will be required to ensure the right data for the specific need is being created and obtained. The data needs to be accessible to those who need it, which will require appropriate policy development. The data also needs to be of known quality and source, and the chain of custody needs to be reliable, requiring additional policy and process development across government.
  • Continuous IT Development: Innovative software that can process multistructured and multisourced data and perform complex, real-time analytics will be required. Significantly more capable data storage mechanisms and appliances, relying more on solid-state, in-memory storage instead of traditional disk storage, will be needed. Improved sensors and devices to accurately collect data will be required.
  • Big Data Workforce: big-data projects need a new cadre of professional staff who are proficient in statistics, mathematics and scientific methods. These staff members must ask the right questions and consume the results of analysis effectively. Such personnel needs will require the government to retrain its current staff and attract talented new graduates.
  • Improved Government Business Models: In-place structures and leadership tend to seek and protect the status quo; big data will have a revolutionary impact, with innovators and outside influences pushing the incumbents. As we have observed over time, technology tends to be ambivalent to organizational structures. Big data will provide yet another solid reason to rationalize the organization of government and to attempt to eliminate the significant duplication that exists.
If you want more information on Big Data - sign up for GovLoop's Big Data Webinar on June 21st. You can register here. 
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