Following is a guest post from Charles Prow.
Earlier this week, I attended an executive forum that IBM and Government Executive co-sponsored on how government can use analytics as an innovation agent. It was an eye opener on many levels.
First, the forum drew a standing-room-only crowd to the Ronald Reagan Building’s Rotunda, showing just how much interest there is in advanced analytics in government agencies. (I counted attendees from more than 70 federal agencies in the crowd.)
Second, as Tom Davenport, the keynote speaker and author of “Competing on Analytics,” pointed out: The use of analytics isn’t new in federal agencies, which have routinely used in areas such as supply chain management — to determine troop levels in the armed forces, for example – or by the IRS to measure tax compliance. What’s different now is that more agencies are beginning to embrace analytics as a strategic tool to be more efficient and transparent and as a basis for decision making.
There were lots of proof points from panelists representing the Social Security Administration (SSA), Department of Justice, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), and Department of Homeland Security. For example, the SSA discussed how they are using analytics and predictive modeling to make quicker determinations on disability applications for those in need – they’ve shortened a process that once took months to weeks.
You may have noticed that your mail delivery is a lot better these days. The U.S. Postal Service attributes that to analytics: They’re extracting valuable insights from information on mail delivery to improve on-time delivery performance, which today exceeds 94 percent for first class mail.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is using analytics to predict losses on reverse mortgages so they can do a better job of pricing government-based insurance premiums to cover potential losses.
IBM used the venue to announce the opening of a new Analytics Solution Center in Washington that will focus specifically on the needs of federal agencies and other public sector organizations to use information more effectively. The center will draw on resources from more than 400 professionals, including researchers such as IBM Fellow Brenda Dietrich, a panelist at the event and an expert in business analytics and mathematical sciences, along with a host of software architects and consultants who are knowledgeable about the challenges facing public sector organizations.
Not surprising, government is one of the most data intensive industries. I was impressed and encouraged by efforts underway among federal agencies to ensure that they’re not just collecting data, but acting upon it to improve public services. It’s this kind of forward thinking that will drive transparency and accountability and better decision making.
Charles Prow is a managing partner for the public sector in IBM Global Business Services.