Data is the new digital currency

The federal government has reached a “data inflection point.”

The recent rollout of spending data as part of the DATA Act provides publicly accessible application programming interfaces (APIs) for a single view of federal spending data. Who knows what creative ecosystems and private business models can now arise from this transparency?

Data has become the new digital currency. And implementation of the DATA Act marks the first time we’ve had a complete operating picture of the business of government. Grants, budgets and contracts are now all in one place utilizing standardized naming conventions, or “common data elements,” under the DATA Act information model schema (DAIMS).

The results of these advancements are already being felt. Recently, we participated in a competition to develop one of the first data analytics applications to extract value from DAIMS. In just a few hours, we demonstrated that anyone can track government spending by program activity; analyze agency appropriations and compare contract awards across agency by vendor.

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This level of insight is key to managing government more efficiently and effectively. If you can see all agencies contracting with a specific service provider, then you can consolidate purchasing.

If you can identify trends in product categories, then you can predict demand.

And if you can quickly spot anomalies, then you can root out waste and fraud.

So it is obvious that the information we can extract from the DATA Act data holds tremendous potential.

These new capabilities are readily adaptable to the private sector, where we’ve already seen the value of data analytics. One example is Cisco, which implemented our data analytics to better manage customer success.

Like government, Cisco had huge volumes of data—in Hadoop, Oracle and Teradata—that they couldn’t access.

“The IT team was sitting on mountains of rich data — information that could empower individuals throughout the company,” said Demian Barshay, manager of operations at Cisco.

Cisco implemented data analytics as a key part of their business intelligence platform, and by taking a data driven approach to customer service, were quickly able to analyze customer behavior.

As a result, Cisco generated $100 million in additional revenue and $4 million in cost savings in the first year alone.

Data analytics provide thought leaders and key policy makers with the ability to drive government toward true digital governance by “democratizing data.”

While there has been lots of discussion regarding IT modernization, missing from this conversation is “why?”

Obviously, we want to accelerate government IT modernization to solve the rapidly exploding issue of cybersecurity. Keeping government data—our data—safe and secure is a key responsibility of government.

But equally as important is the need for the government to transition from an analog style of interaction with its “customers,” the American taxpayer, to a quality digital experience.

The creative and proactive analysis of data is key to this transition. Here government can take a page from the Cisco playbook, implementing analytics to improve the customer experience. This change will yield improved citizen satisfaction, and also presents an opportunity for significant cost savings. The current IT modernization effort provides the perfect opportunity to improve citizen services through analytics.

Srinivas Kosaraju is the federal chief technology officer at Qlik.

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