New Survey Shows Federal Agencies Willing – But Not Ready – To Leverage Big Data

According to a study released today from the Government Business Council (GBC) and Booz Allen Hamilton, more than 75 percent of federal managers believe Big Data has the power to fundamentally transform federal operations. However, their confidence wanes when asked whether their agency is taking the appropriate steps to leverage this new method of collecting and using large amounts of information. A mere 37 percent agreed that their agency is moving in the right direction to implement Big Data.

The report, “ Turning Optimism into Reality: How Big Data Can Transform Government,” assesses the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of federal employees on the use of Big Data to improve operations. The study is supported by extensive primary and secondary research, including interviews with leading Big Data experts, a survey of federal employees and feedback from a random sample of 313 Department of Defense civilian and military Government Executive subscribers.

Mark Herman, executive vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton offers his insight on a Big Data strategy. “As organizations consider how to fully unlock the value of the massive amount of data available to them, an important – but often overlooked – element is defining a Big Data strategy. This roadmap will help ensure the right decisions are made in alignment with expectations for defined business or mission outcomes. Defining and implementing a strategy from this lens will help senior leaders engage in a productive dialogue that maximizes their Big Data and creates meaningful value.”

Key report findings include:
  • Only 18 percent of managers feel they have complete proficiency to use Big Data.
  • Agency skill set could explain managers’ lack of confidence. Fifty percent of program managers believe their agency could do more to capitalize on the opportunities Big Data offers, yet nearly the same number – 47 percent – responded that their agency does not have the technical skills to understand how to use Big Data.
  • Optimism abounds as 69 percent of federal leaders surveyed indicated that Big Data has the capacity to fundamentally transform federal operations.
  • Current Big Data capabilities were compared to agency Big Data goals; results show that while federal leaders may not leverage Big Data to create overall cost savings now, that it is a goal for their agency in the future.

“Big Data has very much become a buzzword for possibility in government, but identifying concrete steps to make it have a significant return on investment is a challenge. Our results show some fascinating insights on the gaps between the excitement about Big Data and the reality of making it work for federal agencies,” says Dana Grinshpan, research manager at the Government Business Council.

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