Council Post: Collaborating with the government—Lessons & experiences

Council Post: Collaborating with the government—Lessons & experiences
Image © Council Post: Collaborating with the government—Lessons & experiences

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My experience of working with different governments in solving real-life problems has been a great eye-opener. Such efforts bring out a different flavour in solving complex technical problems as we are not addressing the typical enterprise use cases of profitability, customer analytics, cost savings, etc. Instead, the prime focus of our interactions is to improve citizen-centric services, save the environment or uncover smarter ways to deal with a crisis by leveraging analytics and AI. Considering the variety and complexity involved, we come away with a bunch of learnings from each project.

Key learnings include:

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Adopt a value-driven approach

Technology providers are expected to facilitate the success of the vision and objectives of government programs and initiatives. To that end, the ability to turn good ideas into deliverable solutions is critical. Innovation that responds to consumer and societal needs is what ultimately drives competitiveness, value creation, and sustainable growth.

It is essential to adopt value-driven technology rather than adopt technology first and later focus on the value side. It requires tech providers to be patient and navigate interdepartmental dependencies and manage expectations while building value-based technology solutions.

Scale fast, scale well

India’s population currently stands at a staggering 1.3 billion. When we are building solutions in collaboration with the government, we should be aware of the massive scale we are working at. With scale comes the responsibility of managing undefined complexities stemming from ambiguous internal and external forces. We are working with Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY, the world’s largest government-supported health scheme providing a health cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family a year to cover secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation of 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable families across India. The scale of data (both structured and unstructured) generated on a daily basis to identify suspicious patterns in-hospital treatments and beneficiary activity is overwhelming. Similarly, projects like the Aadhar UIDAI is a huge challenge in terms of scale and managing unforeseen complexities. Managing this sort of scale means both the solutions as well the people behind them must be held to a high standard.

Problem-solving with next-gen technologies

We have seen government departments driving digital adoption, be it cloud, IoT or AI/ML. The vision of today’s officials is really forward-looking. Rajasthan’s tiger reserves deploying AI for 24×7 automated surveillance to reduce poaching and human-animal conflict is a good case in point. Such projects are unprecedented. In other words, technology partners have the opportunity today to show what’s possible in the near future by leveraging tech and co-opting the larger vision.

Quality of data

Creating a data-driven culture is essential for an organisation’s success. While it is enriching to work with governments, especially on projects like smart cities or citizen-centric initiatives, inherent challenges in terms of the lagging or disconnected processes, data unavailability, siloed system application, lack of or no digitisation often crop up. Data is a key ingredient for analytics projects, and hence clearly defining the quality of data is seminal. Working with the government early into the project to ensure we have data aligned, cleansed and profiled to deploy the correct analytics and AI capabilities is pivotal to the project’s success.

In times of uncertainty

We live in highly uncertain times, and it’s imperative to reimagine how your existing solutions can be implemented in new ways to make a difference. Both partners need to collaborate and build innovative solutions that stand the test of time.

This article is written by a member of the AIM Leaders Council. AIM Leaders Council is an invitation-only forum of senior executives in the Data Science and Analytics industry. To check if you are eligible for a membership, please fill the form here.

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Noshin Kagalwalla
Noshin Kagalwalla is Vice President & Managing Director of SAS Institute (India) Pvt. Ltd, the Indian subsidiary of SAS Institute Inc – a leader in analytics software solutions. He is responsible for architecting the long-term vision, driving sales and customer strategies and maintaining SAS’ leadership position in the AI, Big Data Analytics and Business Intelligence market in India.

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