APAC Public Sector Chief Data Officers Struggle to Balance Innovation and Governance

New Qlik research shows public sector organisations value data, but governance and compliance are taking over as the primary objectives and responsibilities of data leaders

  • New independent research commissioned by Qlik shows majority of data executives across Australia, India and Singapore now report through a security, risk or compliance channel.

  • Public sector organisations often allocate more resources to governance than innovation capabilities.

  • There is rising appreciation for the expanding roles of Chief Data Officers (CDOs), but this level of appreciation does not extend across organisations.

Delhi / Singapore / Sydney – Public sector Chief Data Officers in key Asia Pacific markets are currently prioritising governance, security and compliance amid the rapidly evolving regulatory landscape, highlighting a sense of caution and reduced focus on innovation in data analytics, according to new research from Qlik.

A shift in traditional reporting structures is driving this trend, with over half (55%) of data executives now reporting through a security, risk or compliance channel rather than a technology organisational lead, according to the research, titled “Driving Data in the APAC Public Sector: Balancing Governance and Innovation.” Just 21% of data executives operated under similar reporting channels in 2021. Meanwhile, a third of public sector agencies (33%) also now use a governance title for their senior data executives – more than twice the number (15%) in 2021.

The report also shows how governance has become fundamental to shaping strategy. Many public sector organisations are now allocating more resources to governance than capability, mirroring a default view across the sector that data is a 'risk to be managed' rather than an 'opportunity to be exploited.’ In this climate, CDOs are more likely to possess governance activity capabilities (77%) instead of analytics (63%) or data literacy (57%).

When asked their priorities for the next year, many data leaders ranked strategising, maturity assessments, inventories and governance boards above more innovation-focused initiatives, such as deploying analytics tools, decommissioning old technologies or publishing open datasets.

The research also demonstrates the drive to strengthen compliance practices in recent years. Over 90% of organisations reported having governance frameworks in place in 2023, which marks a significant increase compared to 2021 when only 38% reported having a governance body.

Commissioned by Qlik and conducted independently by Omdia, the study presents the findings of a survey of 326 senior data executives within the public sectors of Australia, India and Singapore, revealing how the CDO role and business strategies are evolving across government organisations.

Geoff Thomas, Senior Vice President, APAC, Qliksaid the report signals a rapid change in data leaders’ roles and responsibilities, and how innovation is now taking a backseat.

“Our study provides valuable insight into the responsibilities and demands faced by CDOs in the public sector today. While CDOs have never been more important, and they play a critical role in the overall infrastructure of the public sector, the research clearly demonstrates how their job is rapidly evolving,” says Thomas.

“Critically, they are increasingly focused on addressing risk rather than seizing on opportunities when it comes to data. To overcome this cautiousness, CDOs need to realise and maximise the return on data and analytics.”

Promisingly, the findings also show rising appreciation for the expanding roles and responsibilities of CDOs in today’s increasingly regulated climate. Around 78% now say they clearly understand the role – including its focus on compliance and governance – and how to deliver against it, compared to only 55% in 2021.

But this level of appreciation does not necessarily extend to entire organisations, according to the research. While over 90% of surveyed public sector organisations reported having a well-defined data strategy with clearly defined roles and objectives, more than half (54%) admitted that their strategy is not widely understood, hindering implementation.

Al Blake, Principal Analyst, Omdia, said CDOs should be promoting the value of data across their organisations to drive service development.

“It is fantastic to see CDOs stepping into an era where their roles are clearly defined, and the value of data and analytics is understood. However, CDOs must ensure this value is understood at the organisational level, and that this translates into service development and strategic delivery. There is still a considerable way to go in terms of integrating the CDO role into the overall organisation, particularly when it comes to striking the balance between governance and innovation,” says Blake.

The report is available for download here.

About the report

“Driving Data in the APAC Public Sector: Balancing Governance and Innovation” was commissioned by Qlik and produced independently by research and consultancy firm Omdia. The report surveyed 326 public sector data executives across Australia, India and Singapore, with all respondents having executive and/or management responsibility for data governance and/or management in their organisation. The research was conducted in May 2023.

About Qlik

Qlik, with the recent addition of Talend, delivers an industry-leading portfolio of solutions for data integration, data quality and analytics. This includes advancements in real-time data, AI, ML and automation. The most successful organizations are investing in data to make sense of the increasing amounts and varieties of data from diverse sources. The challenge is to effectively integrate, analyze and act on the data while ensuring its trustworthiness. With more than 40,000 active customers in over 100 countries, Qlik’s solutions work with virtually any data source, target, architecture or methodology, to ensure customers have the data they need, whenever they.

© 2023 QlikTech International AB. All rights reserved. All company and/or product names may be trade names, trademarks and/or registered trademarks of the respective owners with which they are associated.

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