Empowering governments through contextual computing

How context can improve decision making and mission outcomes

Data is growing exponentially, but only a small fraction is effectively leveraged today. As government leaders prepare for the next phase of business intelligence, they must be smarter in how they approach data to unlock its full value. We suggest they focus on contextual computing.

Context allows an individual to draw meaning from a word based on the conditions and other words surrounding its use. Context extends beyond words though. A value multiplier, context provides meaning to data and is a key success factor in the big data world. Since context is used by humans to decipher the meaning of words, can it similarly be used by systems or solutions to decipher meaning from volumes of large and seemingly complex data? That question and the challenges it addresses form the basis for contextual computing.

We believe the greatest future potential for context in computing can be found at the enterprise level – gaining contextual insight into vast amounts of data to support decision making. Introduced by IBM researchers in 2013, the concept of the contextual enterprise will have a deep impact across both traditional and emerging IT domains over the next decade.

Government organizations have long been one of the biggest generators, collectors and users of data. As such we sought to identify the opportunities, implications and planning considerations for implementing contextual computing solutions in government environments. We found that only 32 percent of government industry experts surveyed were highly familiar with contextual computing. However, they seem to recognize its potential, as almost 60 percent indicate their organization is likely to implement a contextual computing solution in the next three years.

In our report, we identify four critical capabilities required to successfully implement contextual computing solutions: data, skills, policy and technology. And, in addition to identifying core opportunities within government, we also recognize potential challenges – those relating to data management and sharing policies and access to appropriate skills being the greatest.

Pioneering organizations are already reaping benefits from contextual computing solutions, and significant opportunities exist for those government agencies that follow the trail blazers. With the right data, skills, policy and technology capabilities, government agencies can make quantum leaps in leveraging big data for big results.

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