In December 2020 the UK Government published its National Data Strategy Policy Paper in which the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Oliver Dowden, outlined his strategic vision for turning the country into a data-driven digital economy. In the foreword he states, “We want the UK to be a nation of digital entrepreneurs, innovators and investors, the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business, as well as the safest place in the world to go online… to harness the power of data to boost productivity, create new businesses and jobs, improve public services and position the UK as the forerunner of the next wave of innovation”.
The substantial and detailed consultation document sets out the steps that the government plans to take to help all sectors of the economy, businesses, government, civil society and individuals, to improve their data management practices, make better use of data through informed decision making and drive scientific and technological innovations. It also highlights the challenges that all commercial and public sector bodies need to address to bring about the culture-shift, essential to transforming themselves into data-driven organisations. One highlighted example being reducing the tendency for government and businesses to hoard data rather than sharing access, which the paper sees as fundamental to promoting stronger competition, and better prices and choice for consumers and small businesses.
In addition, to support the strategic direction of its policies, the DCMS has identified 4 core pillars which its sees as currently preventing the best use of data across the UK and that need to be urgently addressed.
1.Data foundations: These are base elements needed to ensure data is healthy and fit for purpose including standardized formatting that means it is findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.
2. Data skills: To make the best use of data means developing the right skills and also ensuring that people can continue to develop the data skills they need throughout their working careers.
3. Data availability: Data needs to be appropriately accessible, mobile and re-usable by encouraging better coordination, access to and sharing of data of appropriate quality between organisations
4. Responsible data: Data should be used responsibly, in a way that is lawful, secure, fair, ethical, sustainable and accountable, while also supporting innovation and research.
The overall take-away from the policy paper is that the government recognises the critical importance of data health to deliver on its vision for a data-driven economy and is committed to putting in place the policy framework needed to help organisations, especially SMEs, transform their data management strategies and leverage the power of their data to build successful, sustainable businesses, the bedrock of the UK’s future economic success.
The challenge for individual businesses that are lagging behind on the data curve is to quickly align themselves with the DCMS strategy and start to remove any barriers that are stopping them from embracing all the opportunities that a healthy data-driven strategy has to offer.
This starts by realising the full value of data and the ROI from investing in a data-quality culture that ensures that data is fit for purpose and is accessible when and where it is needed, while protecting the data privacy rights of individuals’ and intellectual property rights of enterprises. In return according to DCMS’ stated aims “enterprises can expect a data regime that is not too burdensome for the average company; one that helps innovators and entrepreneurs to use data responsibly and securely, without undue regulatory uncertainty or risk.”
Data is now, undeniably, an essential part of the critical decision making processes for any organisation or individual, which means it is vitally important to make sure that the infrastructure underpinning it is trustworthy, safe and secure. While any interruption to data-driven services and activities can cause major disruption to businesses it is equally, if not more, important that the health of the data is as robust as possible. Data very quickly degenerates over time, if it is not well managed and maintained it can seriously compromise the growth potential of the organisation, making implementing data quality management policies and procedures across all aspects of the operation a success determining factor for the business.
If you want to get onboard with the government’s initiative and are not sure where to start on fixing the health of your data our team of experienced data experts at IDS would be happy to help put you on the right path.