The UN faces the same kind of issues as all organizations, where data many times sits in silos and consistent data governance is concern. What makes the UN situation perhaps a little bit unique is their vast mandate, which includes everything from poverty to human rights, to environmental and ocean sustainability - basically the whole remit of human life. This far-ranging set of responsibilities impacts the kind of data and systems that the UN deals with on a daily basis.
The incredible decade-long journey that Qlik and the UN have been on was the focus of my keynote session at QlikWorld recently with Lambert Hogenhout, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at the United Nations Office for Information and Communications Technology.
Our conversation covered a variety of areas, including how the UN was initially looking to advance their use of data and technology through OICT. Like many organizations they were using too many spreadsheets and data was never timely or accurate enough. That’s when they started building Qlik dashboards, provided in-person workshops, and hosted hackathons involving various parts of the organization in partnership with Qlik. Now we have hundreds of applications, a fully self-service analytics environment, and offer a whole range of data literacy courses throughout the year to UN staff.
Like many other organizations, the UN is going through a digital transformation and OICT is central to that effort. OICT looks at all the processes in the organization to see how they can be informed by data and made even better. Lambert highlighted how OICT is now focused on getting business value out of their data leveraging Qlik analytics alongside emerging technologies like AI.
We also discussed that with the UN running so many different types of operations in different environments, it naturally grows the number of disparate systems to manage, including operations at the New York headquarters and peacekeeping operations in war zones. All these systems have been developed over time, much like operational systems in all organizations, putting a vital importance on data integration and governance.
Lambert and I reviewed how this impacts one of the main challenges the UN leads on across the globe, which is climate change. The overarching problem with climate change and sustainability in general is that they are related to systemic, complex systems, and it's very hard to get all the data together to show the impacts of varying efforts or programs. Data and analytics become essential to get any grip on hard facts about these issues.
We discussed how one of our data hackathons helped solved a complex data integration challenge while delivering a dashboard to manage CO2 emissions from air travel. The UN now takes their own data from travel and combines that with data from aviation sources to calculate their carbon footprint. The UN not only reports their CO2 emissions through Qlik, but also now support their travel department with tools in Qlik to reduce their footprint going forward. This application design has since been replicated in many areas of ESG metrics and reporting.
All these efforts support the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and working towards these are an essential way that the UN and all organizations and individuals are making a difference. The SDGs are used by organizations to create alignment with their organizations, and by individuals as well to align their daily activities for positive impact. For example, eliminating the use of plastic bags and being more conscious about air travel bookings aligns with multiple goals include SDG 13, 14, and 15 .
We at Qlik would like to thank the UN and OICT for being the world’s most impactful organization and valued Qlik partner. Also, we want to extend a special thank you to Lambert Hogenhout who launched our initiatives 10 years ago and now serves on the Qlik Executive Advisory Board to share his experience with other leaders in the data and analytics industry. All of us are very proud of our partnership with the UN and we look forward to continuing to build a sustainable world together.