Digital Data — The British Experience (Part 2)

Despite the awareness of the importance of data, implementation remains subject to abolishing cultural barriers.

By Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori

Published: Sun 21 Mar 2021, 11:58 PM

First of all, I thank the readers who drew my attention to the fact that I used the masculine adjective to talk about the experience of Mrs Dawn Duhaney, former UK Government digital data advisor.

In addition to the important British experience in dealing with digital data, the remainder of Mrs Duhaney’s remarks can be summarised in the following points:

Firstly, despite the awareness of the importance of data, implementation remains subject to abolishing cultural barriers that impede the exchange of data even when the economic returns are confirmed and evident.

Secondly, there is no dispute over the importance of creating and developing legislative frameworks for data, but the key is to change the prevailing mentality in dealing with data, in conjunction with creating the necessary infrastructure for data sharing.

Thirdly, digital data is a “team game” that cannot be played alone. Otherwise, all we do is creating silos that lead nowhere. The success of any institution in implementing data will not be a real success unless it is in the context of an integrated environment based on give-and-take and flow of data within a legislative framework and clear governance.

Fourthly, many people speak about the importance of data, but few actually understand how data reflects on their business and contributes to achieving their goals. This paradox creates a gap that must be bridged through data literacy programmes, which is what the British government has applied through an integrated programme that includes panel discussions, public training programmes, brainstorming sessions, and more.

Fifthly, data experts must learn the art of simplifying concepts and transforming them into a non-technical and uncomplicated language that others can understand, and through which they find the reflection of digital data on their lives, interests and goals.

Sixthly, in general, dealing with data should not be a specialty restricted to a particular group, but rather a work culture and lifestyle for everyone. It is the language that should be spoken by all professionals, including heads of department, directors and policymakers.

Seventhly, the success in creating a prevailing culture in this field requires encouraging the establishment of a data society that transcends institutions and sectors. This community exchanges experiences, knowledge and experiences, and contributes to preventing duplication, duplication and waste.

These are the most important points that can be drawn from the British experience, which are — in my opinion — points worth pondering.

Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori is the Head of Digital Government and Director General, TRA

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