Organisations are increasingly recognising the need to manage and treat their data as a corporate strategic asset. This means approaching data in the same way they protect, cultivate and put to use other strategic “assets” such as intellectual property, financial resources or people. Treating data as an asset underpins the delivery of significant organisational benefits, reduces risk of data misuse and can reflect an organisation’s culture and ethical stance.
At the ICO, we recognised we needed a data strategy for five specific reasons:
- Data is critical to deliver our ICO25 ambitions, particularly those around impact, culture, capacity and capability.
- External factors set the expectations of public sector use of data, including the National Data Strategy and the Data Protection Digital Information Bill.
- Technologies built on data, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI), offer the ICO the opportunity to develop radically transformed experiences for customers and staff. This automation enhances decision making and inform us of AI's practical uses and risks to deepen our understanding as a regulator.
- The assessed data maturity of the ICO is low. For this to measurably grow we need to move from a culture of risk aversion to one of curiosity and experimentation grounded upon modern interoperable systems.
- The ICO has a unique opportunity to set the tone for responsible and innovative data use in the public sector.