The Raven's Blog

16.04.18

The complexities of Brexit and the hunt for exceptional data scientists

Christopher Gallagher, public sector – SAS, says it’s imperative that organisations have the most experienced data scientists at hand.

The Civil Service is feeling immense Brexit stress. Making the right decisions, analysing the ‘best interests’ of the nation as a whole, as well as discrete segments of the population – think farmers, for instance – has never been more important. Nor has being able to predict the likely risks and outcomes of Brexit decisions, for example on population dynamics, economic prosperity, national security, scientific endeavor, and even UK environments and planning.

In fact, every central government department and local authority will be sizing up how best to answer the challenges of EU withdrawal. The secret to uncovering the answers to the most time-critical and complex questions facing civil servants is to make far more effective and frequent use of the data already available. In addition, the Civil Service must look at new and previously unused sources of data. Imagine how social media content could be employed to analyse the sentiments of different interest groups.

We’re not alone in our thinking. Last year, John Manzoni, chief executive of the Civil Service, declared that government needed to unlock the potential of the “massive amounts of data it holds.” We applaud this sentiment and understand the huge opportunity that this wealth of data offers departments. Bold applications of analytics are already helping to create a new evidence base for policy development. However, it’s essential that we use the right data and do not spend time and resource collecting irrelevant data that will never be used and which may result in increased storage costs.

With so much risk and opportunity to navigate, it’s imperative that you have the very best and most experienced data scientists at hand.

What kinds of skills are typically available?

  1. Data scientists with deep mathematical and technical skills – typically the people who can build predictive models for you;
  2. Analysts who can help you look at the data you currently have to uncover new insights that effect change and better decision-making for your organisation and citizens;
  3. Others who are experienced in working with new sources of big data within the bounds of a more regulated world than ever, thanks to GDPR.

Critically at such a tempestuous time, collaboration is essential, so your data scientists will need to have excellent communication, organisational and team working skills.

Need a balance of skills?

But there’s a problem. There is a shortage of data science skills – and the commercial sector often has deeper pockets than yours, paying more attractive salaries. Glassdoor rated data science number one on the list of best jobs for 2017.

If competing for skills on a purely financial basis is a concern, you should try competing by providing the highest quality, most flexible and most advanced analytics capabilities in the market. Which data scientists worth their salt would not want to apply their skills to solving the most important political challenge for a generation? This is an attractive proposition!

An open platform is ideal. Here’s why:

  1. Freedom: it will allow your data scientists to run programmes that are written in Java, Python, R, SAS and any other analytics programmes they might use – giving them the freedom and choice they crave;
  2. Data quality control and compliance: in the way data sources are prepared, stored and used. This is particularly important for organisations such as the ONS. They are creating a much richer, nuanced picture of the UK by spreading their wings and adding new sources of data to enhance their traditional datasets;
  3. Data flexibility: it will be able to ingest wholly new types of data – such as voice, social media, perhaps even video;
  4. Collaboration: you want an open platform that allows data scientists to work with colleagues to uncover insights that help to improve the services offered as well as to better understand citizens.

Having the best analytical capabilities to allow data scientists to work the way they want and to quality methodologies will help you attract the top talent. Managing these differing requirements in the right way, to help attract the best data scientists, is helping commercial organisations deliver game-changing competitive advantage. It can help the public sector make the challenging decisions that Brexit demands and measure the impacts also. Government is already making use of analytics, but now is the time to step up and put a robust, scalable structure in place. Now is the time to take these steps forward in order to de-risk Brexit and help make it a positive change for the country.

See how advanced analytics is helping the ONS to drive value from data
Download eBook >>

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Council controversially begins first monthly bin collection in England and Wales

25/09/2018Council controversially begins first monthly bin collection in England and Wales

Monthly bin collections have been introduced for the first time in England and Wales by Conwy County Council, despite major complaints from resid... more >
Nottinghamshire leader hits back: ‘We’re the most transparent and open council there is’

25/09/2018Nottinghamshire leader hits back: ‘We’re the most transparent and open council there is’

The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council has hit back against claims that the authority lacks transparency, claiming that the council is &ldq... more >
Exclusive: Notts leader rejects calls for council merger referendum, public decision due in May

25/09/2018Exclusive: Notts leader rejects calls for council merger referendum, public decision due in May

The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council has rejected calls from opposing councillors to put potential merger plans to a referendum, arguing ... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >

the raven's daily blog

Social value: what is it and why?

14/09/2018Social value: what is it and why?

Ben Carpenter, chief executive of Social Value UK, discusses the worth of social value, and argues that, before we start measuring social value, we should ask clearly: what is it, and why? Social value is so much more than a value for money exercise. If you see social value as simply a new catchphrase for ‘efficiency savings’... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Crown Commercial Service: Travel solutions on track

10/09/2018Crown Commercial Service: Travel solutions on track

Katrina Williams, head of travel at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), explains how they are helping government organisations to get the best de... more >
LEPs need to do more for England's countryside

10/09/2018LEPs need to do more for England's countryside

Paul Miner, head of strategic plans and devolution at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), highlights the findings of a recent survey wh... more >
What about social care?

10/09/2018What about social care?

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, looks at the exclusion of social care from the government’s rece... more >
Re-evaluating public service reforms

10/09/2018Re-evaluating public service reforms

Chris Painter, professor emeritus at Birmingham City University, explores the paradox of reform principles persisting despite mounting evidence a... more >

interviews

Michael King: Time for Ombudsman reform

06/08/2018Michael King: Time for Ombudsman reform

Michael King first joined the Local Government Ombudsman service back in 2004 as deputy ombudsman. At the start of 2017, he was appointed as the ... more >
Helping a city understand itself

06/08/2018Helping a city understand itself

SPONSORED INTERVIEW The urban landscape is changing. How can local authorities keep up with citizen behaviour? Stephen Leece, managing directo... more >
Modern policing: the future is bright

06/08/2018Modern policing: the future is bright

SPONSORED INTERVIEW The public sector, and policing in particular, has often been criticised as being slow to adapt to change. But now, says L... more >
Data at the heart of digital transformation

03/04/2018Data at the heart of digital transformation

SPONSORED INTERVIEW Grant Caley, UK & Ireland chief technologist at NetApp, speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the benefits of movin... more >

public sector focus

View all News