By Rami Traboulsi,Technology Strategy Senior Manager at Accenture in the Middle East

‘Data is shaping the future of humanity’ begins the Frontier Technology Quarterly published by the UN in January 2019. Sitting at the core of everything we do – it has the potential to unlock tremendous value – whether for governments or private organizations alike.

Today, data is everything – even more so for governments. The actualization of data importance in the private sector fueled governments to begin their journey to drive intelligence, policymaking, and investments with data. The OECD has realized this trend and went so far as to coining this global phenomenon as ‘Data-Driven Governments.’

Data-driven governments encompass all data asset-ization and value realization activities that a government conducts to inform its decisions. It involves several capabilities, including data governing, modeling, analyzing, and visualizing, that help understand any given problem better through data insights. Examples of such efforts are to be seen across several sectors in many countries around the world, such as the Federal Data Analytics Program in the United States, Singapore’s Ministry of Health data management efforts, or the Digital Transformation Agency set up in Australia to only mention a few entities focusing their efforts on unlocking the trapped value of their data.

Several countries in the GCC are following suit — and in some spaces leading. For example, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia showcased notable efforts on the transformative Data Journey creating the National Data Management Office (NDMO), a subsidiary office of the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), that positions itself as the regulatory body for data in the Kingdom. While, in the neighboring United Arab Emirates, the Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA) is mandated to regulate, enable, and oversee the implementation of the data management and analytics agenda across the government. The Abu Dhabi government is ambitious to be a big data and AI leader through data management, analytics, and open data agenda. 

While such ambitions are costly pursuits, the value realized through them is significant. Governments become better equipped to serve their citizens, improve their infrastructure, secure their borders better, close the widening income inequality gap, fostering the business landscape for investments and opportunities, and many more.

Moreover – according to Accenture research, with the drive to leverage data as a strategic asset to stimulate economic and social growth, the market demand for Data Strategies is expected to grow exponentially over the next three to four years. However, a clear market gap in capabilities remains, with over 76% of CEOs reporting not being able to scale their programs and government entities being unprepared to respond to the upcoming wave of data-related regulations. Due to the increasing demand for data services, Accenture is increasingly fostering strategic partnerships for several governments in the GCC. Spanning the entire spectrum from strategy to execution – we have defined five steps for organizations to become data-driven and transition their data strategies:

  • Inspire a data-driven transformation and get executive sponsorship towards achieving the “North Star”
  • Establish a strong data foundation in data management, data governance, data architecture
  • Design a target operating model that is responsive to business demands and fosters a data culture
  • Develop the right policies and controls to ensure compliance with national and international laws and regulations
  • Define and prioritize data consumption across the business to launch intelligent products that release value from reporting, analytics, and advanced analytics