Tech 100: ‘We’re identifying our invisible feral data, taming it and putting it to work for us’

Written by Peter Tolland and Ken Wilson on 24 April 2017 in Comment

North Lanarkshire Council’s Peter Tolland and Ken Wilson of Perth and Kinross Council on what needs to be done to achieve change within local government

Tech 100 Local Government - Image credit: Holyrood

‘In these days of austerity there can be no freeloaders’

We might not all want to admit it but I suspect that many of us have significant volumes of unstructured data running wild in our respective organisation.

The funny thing is that it has been our own successful ongoing move away from paper storage towards digital storage that has turned this problem into a problem at all.

I’m sure many of us remember the rooms full of filing cabinets and off-site storage locations with racks full of filling boxes brimming with documents that never seemed to reach the end of their meaningful life.

And how many of us sat back with a ‘job well done’ feeling when we’d moved to digital storage and dumped the filing cabinets in the nearest skip? I know I did.

Well, I’ve just had a 15 terabyte wake-up call that roughly translates into several billion or so documents, picture, audio and video files etc that we’ve tucked digitally away.

And this volume is growing daily because this unstructured data has become invisible, feral and in many ways does absolutely nothing for us.

So what are we doing? Well we’re identifying our invisible feral data, taming it and putting it to work for us.

Data either pulls its weight or it meets the end of its meaningful life. In these days of austerity there can be no freeloaders. So join me and put your feral data on notice too.

Peter Tolland is the customer and information governance manager at North Lanarkshire Council


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‘New technology is only one part of the challenge’

I think it’s fair to say that ICT is more complex now and is changing faster than ever before. 

Artificial intelligence, virtual reality and intelligent things are here now and need our attention. Change however is not new in ICT.

We have to prepare for the impact of the current set of technology trends on our business and ensure they deliver value to our business.   

New technology however is only one part of the challenge. A number of other factors will play a major part in our success: business engagement, leadership, collaboration and digital skills/knowledge, to name but a few. 

A greater focus on digital skills and knowledge is perhaps one of the most critical to our success.

It is essential our business leaders understand and embrace the benefits technology can bring to service delivery and drive transformation in their business areas. Our people need to be comfortable using technology and know its capabilities. 

It is debatable whether we can truly transform services and deliver the efficiencies that technology can offer without a strong leadership and an ICT literate workforce.

Ken Wilson is corporate IT manager for Perth and Kinross Council



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