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Exclusive! Information Management for AI Disruption Ensuring Trustworthiness and Reliability

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In an age of rapid technological advancement, government agencies globally are challenged to become more data-driven. This transformation goes beyond data collection, focussing on the effective use of data to make informed decisions.

In an exclusive interview with Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia, Keith Nelson, Senior Industry Strategist for Public Sector at OpenText, shared his insights on how governments can navigate this digital transformation.

Keith acknowledged the significant strides governments have made in collecting and aggregating information. Governments have done an amazing job of collecting and aggregating information over the years. However, their real challenge has been in using that information to make data-driven decisions.

“Collecting data is just the first step,” Keith explains. “The true power of data is only unleashed when it is analysed and used to drive policy decisions, improve public services, and enhance overall governance.”

Insights empower decision-makers to make informed and timely decisions. In an age where data flows quickly, government leaders need accurate, up-to-date information to respond to emerging challenges and opportunities. For instance, real-time figures on infection rates, hospital capacities and vaccination progress during a public health crisis enable swift and effective action.

“The difference between success and failure often comes down to the quality and timeliness of the data available to decision-makers,” Keith emphasised.

Keith identified two critical elements converging to assist governments in becoming more data-driven: personnel and technology. Together, this combination of human expertise and advanced technology can drive a much more sophisticated and effective data-driven government.

The role of data scientists has become one of the most in-demand jobs in government globally, reflecting the increasing need for expertise in this area. “Data scientists are not just number crunchers; they are storytellers who can translate complex datasets into actionable insights.”

This increased demand for data scientists is complemented by the implementation of advanced information management systems that leverage AI and automation. These modern technologies enhance data processing, analysis, and decision-making capabilities, creating a robust framework for a more sophisticated data-driven government.

AI relies on effective information management. Integrating artificial intelligence with information management systems can revolutionise operations. By segmenting, categorising, and attributing data, organisations can direct AI tools towards specific, precise objectives to achieve accurate and dependable results.

“Data quality is the foundation of any successful AI initiative,” Keith asserted. “Without clean, accurate, and well-organised data, AI systems cannot perform effectively.”

OpenText’s solutions help organisations manage their data lifecycle, from collection and storage to analysis and archiving. The goal is to ensure that data is always available, reliable, and ready for analysis.

Modern information management systems, such as those developed by OpenText, are designed to work seamlessly with AI tools, facilitating real-time data analysis and decision-making. These systems can help government agencies manage vast data and derive meaningful insights.

AI’s impact in the workplace has expanded significantly, not only through the automation of mundane tasks but also in tasks such as generating RFIs, designing recruitment strategies, and optimising supply chains.

This demonstrates its transformative potential in revolutionising operations, enhancing productivity, efficiency and enabling human resources to concentrate on strategic initiatives within government operations.

OpenText’s integration of AI chatbots, known as OpenText Aviator, exemplifies how these AI tools function as co-pilots, efficiently guiding users to relevant information. They have the potential to streamline internal processes by handling tasks such as answering common employee queries, scheduling meetings, and even drafting documents.

“Imagine an AI assistant that can help you navigate through piles of documents and find exactly what you need in seconds,” he asks.

In highlighting the importance of actionable insights, Keith recognises the significance of the artificial intelligence sphere, naturally leading to the topic of generative AI – a hot topic in the tech world. While generative AI holds immense potential, it also necessitates a cautious approach to ensure responsible and ethical use.

The transformative potential of generative AI for operations is clear, Keith acknowledges, noting its ability to automate routine tasks, generate insights from unstructured data, and assist in predictive analysis. However, generative AI is still in its early stages, and it must be evaluated carefully to maximise its benefits while mitigating risks.

“Government agencies are currently cautious about using their data with Generative AI, which is, in my opinion, a wise approach. By gradually integrating AI into their data management strategies, agencies can experiment and better understand the tool’s limitations and potential,” he believes. “Start small, experiment, and learn. This will help build trust and understanding of the technology’s capabilities and limitations.”

Another pressing issue is the global shortage of skilled professionals. This shortage extends beyond data scientists to include developers and cybersecurity experts. The increasing demand for these specialised skills outpaces the current supply, creating a significant challenge for government agencies striving to enhance their technological capabilities and data management strategies.

Without enough qualified personnel, the full potential of modern information management systems and AI applications cannot be realised, hindering progress in achieving more efficient and effective government operations.

The pandemic demonstrated a pivotal shift in workforce dynamics by showing that public servants could effectively work from home full-time, expanding agencies’ hiring options beyond traditional geographic boundaries to access a broader talent pool.

By embracing remote work, governments can recruit skilled professionals globally, easing expertise shortages in critical areas. This flexibility not only fills immediate gaps but also cultivates a diverse and resilient workforce, adept at navigating modern governance and technological challenges.

However, this flexibility also introduces challenges in maintaining data security across diverse networks, requiring information to be accessible from all locations while effectively protecting it against cyberattacks.

“Remote work is here to stay,” Keith observes. “But it also means that governments need to rethink their cybersecurity strategies.”

Investing in human capital is just as important as investing in technology. Continuous training and development for government employees to keep pace with the rapidly evolving technological landscape is vital. This ensures staff remain equipped with the latest skills and knowledge necessary for effective governance in a digital age.

Security remains a paramount concern in this era of digital transformation, particularly given the escalating sophistication of cyberattacks. Inevitably, AI capabilities will extend into the cybersecurity domain, introducing both new capabilities and challenges.

Governments are increasingly targeted by cyberattacks, making security awareness training and phishing exercises crucial. However, as Keith points out, relying solely on human vigilance is not sufficient.

Management must embed robust protections and privacy controls into systems to mitigate human errors and ensure the protection of sensitive data. This proactive approach is essential for enhancing cybersecurity resilience in government operations.

A robust security strategy involves multiple layers of protection, including encryption, multi-factor authentication, and continuous monitoring, “Security is not a one-time fix; it’s an ongoing process.”

Keith agrees that while security is a collective responsibility, he advocates for adopting a zero-trust approach. This strategy involves continuously verifying trust in devices and users within a network, rather than assuming trust based on location or initial verification. This approach helps mitigate risks posed by potential breaches and unauthorised access attempts, ensuring a more robust and proactive cybersecurity posture.

“Zero trust means assuming that every user, device, and network could be compromised,” Keith explained. “It’s about verifying everything, all the time.”

Ethical considerations in AI are integral to its development. There is a critical need to confront bias within AI systems, Keith says, citing an instance where a generative AI tool produced biased images, underscoring the necessity for human oversight in AI applications.

“It’s crucial to keep humans in the loop to mitigate the risk of disinformation and bias,” he believes. “AI is only as good as the data it is trained on. If the data is biased, the AI will be too.”

Establishing public trust in AI outcomes is crucial. The need for transparency in AI development and implementation is foundational to its success. He proposes that governments establish clear guidelines and ethical standards to ensure accountability and reliability in AI usage.

“AI is a powerful tool, but it’s not a silver bullet,” Keith cautioned. “It requires careful planning, testing, and refinement.”

Keith urges governments to encourage AI experimentation in non-sensitive areas to familiarise themselves with its capabilities and limitations, thereby building confidence before broader deployment. He suggests establishing AI experimentation sandboxes to safely test new applications and approaches without risking critical operations, fostering an environment for learning and innovation without the fear of failure.

As governments navigate the evolving landscape, the thoughtful integration of AI and robust information management practices will be vital to unlocking their full potential. The outlook is bright, and with the right strategies, governments can harness the power of digital technology to serve their citizens better.

“Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination,” Keith concluded. “And with the right tools and mindset, governments can lead the way into a more efficient, transparent, and responsive future.”


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