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Public sector organisations ‘in the dark’ about where their data is, suggests UKCloud survey

Response to a poll of public sector IT and business leaders suggests few have any idea if their data is stored in the cloud or on-premise, claims UKCloud

Public sector organisations are “sleepwalking” into losing track of their data, as a survey by UKCloud suggests many have no clear idea about where their business information is stored.

The cloud provider polled 300 IT and business leaders for its State of digital and data survey, and its findings suggest few public sector organisations can say – with any degree of certainty – if the majority of their data is stored on-premise or in the cloud.

To this point, more than half (53%) of the survey’s respondents said their data is stored on-premise, but 58% said their data resides in the public cloud, and 56% indicated their data is spread across multiple cloud services.

“There’s confusion visible in the responses, suggesting a lack of understanding – organisations don’t actually know where there data is, they just think they do,” said UKCloud in the survey report.

“It’s impossible for the majority of an organisation’s data to reside across public, private and multiple cloud services, which highlights an overall lack of certainty.

“Public sector organisations are sleepwalking into a state where data is actually spread across multiple places, and it’s been partly driven by a lack of visibility into what is stored on legacy technology, alongside the convenience of big tech deployments,” the report continued.

The lack of clarity over where public sector organisations are storing their data is concerning, the report stated, given that much of this information will belong to citizens.

This is particularly as 40% of respondents said their teams do not possess capabilities to understand where the data their organisation has is stored.

“Given the damage that a data breach can cause – especially to sectors such as healthcare and police and justice – these findings are concerning. Data should be treated as a national asset,” the report stated.

“When organisations – and those within them charged with managing that data – aren’t sure where it resides, its security is in question and its value to an organisation significantly diminished.

“Harnessing data to its full potential and delivering the best possible services to citizens, depends on organisations knowing where that data is, and how it’s being used at any given time,” the report added.

The survey also further revealed that 97% of public sector organisations are in the throes of evaluating the use of new technologies, with 60% expressing a preference for all their data to be eventually hosted in the cloud. Primarily so they can make easier use of artificial intelligence, collaboration tools, and enjoy greater operational resiliency.

Achieving their goal of having all their data in the cloud will require developing a greater understanding of where it resides and improving access to it, the report stated.

“As it stands, there appears to be some way to go before this can become a reality. Only just over half (52%) of respondents say they have the resources necessary to understand and drive efficiencies from the data they own, meaning they can’t determine it’s true value," the report said.

“And two-thirds (67%) currently allocate no more than a few days each month to innovate and research ways to unlock more value from data, with 89% of leaders admitting they dedicate only 20% of their time to innovating ways to unlock data.

“This suggests there just isn’t enough time for them to discover new ways of working and – as a result – they remained tied to legacy systems and processes,” the report added.

Leighton James, CTO at UKCloud, said the report’s findings should help public sector organisations identify any potential blockers to their own data-led digital transformations.

“This survey shows that the UK public sector is committed to the benefits of digital transformation, and it is also clear that this transformation is too big a leap for many organisations,” he said. 

“UKCloud and our innovative partners are focused on bridging that gap by delivering services and capabilities that are specifically developed to address the actual challenges facing most public sector organisations. 

“I believe our latest survey will once again help our community understand and address these challenges to deliver better outcomes to those that rely on public services.”

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