Guest post from Blythe Howard-Chou, senior writer, IBM Business Analytics
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“Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology . . . We can make him better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.”
– Oscar Goldman, The Six Million Dollar Man
If you watched television during the 1970s, you probably remember Lee Major’s role as Steve Austin in The Six Million Dollar Man. Austin crashed while testing a new aircraft for NASA and he was rebuilt with state-of-the-art technology.
These days, as we stare down our national debt of $14.3 trillion – that’s approximately $46,000 per citizen (current population of the U.S. is approximately 310 million), so get out your checkbooks – it’s clear that all levels of government are going to need to become more efficient and transparent, and quickly.
This is one of the many issues that will be discussed at the IBM Business Analytics Online Government Forum (Wednesday, November 2, 2011).
I spoke recently with Rob Dolan, Worldwide Industry Leader, Public Sector, IBM, who will serve as one of the three speakers on the keynote panel at the forum, Using Analytics to Exceed Citizen Expectations.
“Revenue and costs are two of the biggest things impacting government today,” said Dolan. “We’re seeing revenues not meeting forecasts, and we’re also seeing an increased need for services because we have a large number of citizens relying on the government for benefits, so this is creating a strain.”
As citizens, we expect our trash to be picked up, our parks to be useable, our streets to be repaired and our schools to be adequate. We also expect social services to continue.
With recent economic conditions, however, all levels of government are struggling to deliver the same level of services to citizens – in a way that is cost effective.
“Analytics is way to help balance expectations, and to evaluate transparency and accountability,” explained Dolan. “Government organizations and agencies can use analytics to ensure they are operating efficiently and effectively, and even to prevent foreseeable (and not so foreseeable) problems.”
For example, social service agencies may rely on analytics to reduce fraud and ensure that the citizens who need benefits the most receive them first. Public schools can use analytics to monitor at-risk students and make appropriate interventions before they drop out. Not only does this improve graduation rates, but it also directly prevents crime linked to student attrition.
What advice does Dolan offer to those organizations and agencies interested in getting started with analytics and creating a smarter government?
Surprisingly, acquiring analytics technology is actually only about 30 percent of what you need to do.
“What’s most important,” Dolan says, “is that there needs to be a culture of performance improvement and a desire to make smarter decisions. You need a visionary at the top of your organization that is willing to say ‘we need to improve our performance and use analytics to do a better job of driving efficiency and delivering better services.’”
Once this culture has been established from the top down, the agency or organization must pinpoint its specific goals. For example, does it want to improve reporting? Or, does it want to see daily dashboards that show how it’s performing against the top three goals?
Once government agencies establish their mission, they can use analytics to optimize services, influence operations and improve financial health. Of course, all of this leads to better citizen support and satisfaction that government is really making a difference.
Business analytics technology provides the same powers that doctors gave to Steve Austin – super strength, speed, agility and amazing vision.
Government can be “bionic.” We have the technology.
For more information on how government agencies can become better, stronger and faster with business analytics:
· Register for the IBM Business Analytics Online Government Forum (Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 11:00 a.m. ET)
· View the demo, Analytics for Smarter Government, and find out how IBM Business Analytics gives leaders the trusted information they need to improve programs and services
· Read the brief on improving program outcomes and how predictive analytics can guide strategic planning
· Download the white paper: Government analytics: Set goals, drive accountability and improve outcomes