Business intelligence potential, complexity growing

The federal government has always been interested in the collection and utilization of raw data. With the advent of business intelligence solutions, such efforts have reached new levels of value – and difficulty.

“Leveraging these raw data effectively is difficult, as many government entities have discovered.”

In virtually every aspect of the public sector, business intelligence is increasing the potential utility of data, yet also creating new challenges that agencies must grapple with.  Put simply, the sheer amount of data involved is growing exponentially and becoming increasingly diverse. Leveraging these raw materials effectively is incredibly difficult, as many government entities are quickly coming to discover. To optimize outcomes in this area, agencies and individual departments will need to seek out third-party service providers with high-level expertise and robust experience in the realm of BI and knowledge management. Here are some tips for business finance.

BI benefits
This trend is certainly not limited to the public sector. A recent report from MarketsandMarkets estimated that the global BI platform market will surpass $14 billion in 2019, up from less than $9 billion in 2014 – a compound annual growth rate of 9.7 percent.

But there are unique ways that the development of advanced BI, coupled with ever-increasing data gathering capabilities, is poised to deliver benefits to government agencies. For example, Fed Tech Magazine reported that the Veterans Health Administration has made tremendous strides toward using BI to improve care for military veterans. And Kathleen Frisbee, co-director of the VHA’s Connected Health program, told the news source that these efforts are poised to increase dramatically as the agency’s collection and use of patient-generated data grows. Such information is far more robust than the relatively limited data collected through traditional efforts, and can help doctors and nurses make more strategic, customized decisions for their patients.

BI can help improve health care for veterans.BI can help improve health care for veterans.

The Department of Homeland Security is also working to maximize its BI efforts, as Fed Scoop reported. According to the source, DHS launched the Financial Systems Modernization effort, which is designed to use data analytics and BI to identify weaknesses in its financial management systems.

Speaking to Fed Scoop, industry expert Tomas O’Keefe added that BI can provide major benefits for DHS in terms of judging the value of its various immigration-related security endeavors. For example, these tools have shown that Customs and Border Protection’s drone program has not proven cost-effective, nor has it added significant value to border security. Furthermore, he noted that DHS can use BI to improve the reliability of its Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm.

Waves of data
All of this goes to show the benefits that advanced BI can and is bringing to federal agencies. However, both of these sources also highlighted the difficulties departments must first overcome in order to see such results.

In the case of the VHA, the scope and size of the information gathered mean that knowledge management and data integration are major obstacles.

“All this data is coming from those wearable devices, from home monitoring equipment and from mobile apps,” said Frisbee, Fed Tech Magazine reported. “All of it’s going into this big NoSQL database. The problem is that we have to figure out a way to understand conceptually how that fits with the electronic health record.”

The risk, according to the source, is that affiliated health care providers will become overwhelmed by the deluge of data, leading to confusion and inefficiency.

“DHS is struggling to effectively collect and manage all of the data associated with its BI programs.”

Similarly, DHS is struggling to effectively collect and manage all of the data associated with its BI programs.

“DHS is being asked to do more and more while seeing reductions in their budget,” O’Keefe said, Fed Scoop reported. “Poor data collection is actually inhibiting the department’s ability to evaluate its operations. DHS lacks a way to make sense of the data it generates across the enterprise as it conducts its diverse sets of missions.”

These are common issues across the federal government. This is why third-party BI consulting can prove so advantageous. These service providers can help government entities design, deploy and maintain BI programs. With such guidance, these programs can avert the risk of data overload or mismanagement while also maximizing the value of the analytics produced. Critically, this guidance is also essential for ensuring the security and integrity of all of the information collected and stored.

With the right strategy and skills in place, BI can prove an invaluable resource for a huge range of government agencies and projects.