We met with Edvin for a chat about big data and how it is changing the public sector.
- So, what are your thoughts on how the public sector are changing their view on costs and quality? “In the last few years there have been a dramatic shift in public sector focus, from budget balance and measuring units of services delivered, to understanding underlying drivers of cost and what really creates value for users of public services. The beauty of this change is that it is not a top down initiated change – it is a common understanding across all levels of public administration, from service delivery in each municipality to government lawmakers and central budget authorities.”
- What are some of the central questions your clients are struggling with? “Most of the discussions I have with our clients boils down to one thing: how do we measure the things that really matter – the things that we need to know in order to make decisions. There are two challenges to this; first, how to break down large and unconnected quantities of data into meaningful variables that actually help us make choices. Second, how to think long term about what information we need and then actively seek out and gather that data to close this information gap.”
- If you were to highlight a few cases where we really made a difference in this space, what would they be? “In relation to the first challenge – breaking down data into meaningful variables – we did an amazing piece of work in which we identified the underlying cost drivers in higher education. What we did was to build a database of existing data, which was not previously connected, and then identified cost drivers and how much each cost driver affected the overall levels of cost. This data construction helped decision makers make sense of how to incentivize education institutions in order to target these cost drivers. In relation to the second challenge, we are currently helping the government in creating new national indicators. Rather than restricting ourselves to existing data, we are asking ourselves: what do we need to know? From that vantage point, we make a plan on how to gather the unavailable data. In this way we take the long term perspective and actively seek out the data we need in order to create decision-relevant information.”