Intuition Is a Good Starting Point. Data Is the Next Step

Let’s be honest: Your gut plays an important role in making decisions. But in this increasingly sophisticated technological sphere, it falls short.

Intuition alone will not give you the best information to make critical decisions in your role. And, unfortunately, your gut is not concerned with keeping nationally sensitive information safe in the course of delivering services and running missioncritical operations. The mounting complexity of the world, the presence of cyber adversaries and unexpected events like COVID-19 have necessitated a reliance on data-driven decision-making.

“Governing based on one’s gut or feelings, rather than hard data, becomes more and more untenable by the day,” said Tom Tibbett, Senior Solution Manager of the Business Technology Platform at SAP National Security Services (NS2), a secure analytics provider.

Tibbett explained two ways that secure data technology can help intuitive decision-making become secure decision-making.

Mitigating the Noise

Agencies need to know what data is being exchanged, but they’re often generating more data than they can reasonably consume. By 2025, the amount of data globally is predicted to reach 175 zettabytes from 59 zettabytes in 2020.

In this expanse, agencies can be caught unaware without the right data at their fingertips. It’s imperative to generate, process and visualize data innovatively and securely so as to mitigate noise and maximize signaling.

“Utilizing data-centric decision-making on a secure platform has proven time and again to be essential, and it’s something that agencies no longer have the luxury to ignore,” Tibbett said.

Seeing the Full Picture

Some of the darkest events in recent U.S. memory stem from silos. For example, the 9/11 Commission Report found that the biggest impediment to intelligence analysis is “the human and systemic resistance to sharing information.” Each agency had a piece of the puzzle, but no one could see the full picture.

This reflects the top barriers in being data-driven today. There are incredible amounts of valuable information gated from each other in disparate data sources. What’s needed is to unify those data sources in a platform where government-grade security is prioritized to make them useful.

That’s the approach SAP NS2 takes when working with agencies. “We’re equal parts guardian and guide on this journey,” Tibbett said. It partners with agencies to safely integrate and innovate within a secure node, converting a congested, disconnected data landscape into one actionable platform. The goal is for agencies to move rapidly without worrying about the security of their infrastructure.

Being intuitive and even tech-skeptical is important, but for critical decision-making there is no longer the luxury of going at it alone.

“If agencies do not invest in safe and secure technology, they will quickly become a foothold for their adversaries,” Tibbett said. “When a cyberattack happens, it’s too late to start thinking about security. The priority is to unify and integrate data for a full picture now.”

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s guide “Your Field Notes for Data-Driven Decision-Making in Government: Case Studies on Work Culture, Equity and More.”

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