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Denmark’s Push for Data Transparency for All Citizens

July 10, 2017

The following is a guest post from Mads Kirk Netterstrøm of Netcompany, a valued TARGIT partner. Netcompany delivers business critical IT solutions and consultancy that helps their customers achieve significant business benefits in a digitized world. Mads has been a consultant with Netcompany since 2015.

Companies of every size have generated colossal amounts of data overtime. Thanks to the increasing digitization of every industry, there is now a greater focus than ever before on turning that data into something useful. In private companies, data is used for streamlining the business, creating new business models, and customizing campaigns and offers to customers. This is now the bare minimum that companies need to do in order to survive in a highly competitive market. 

However, it is not only the private sector that is confronted to challenges in controlling and adequately exploiting available data. Today, we increasingly see more and more public institutions looking for help to use their data to provide better service for citizens, journalists, and other stakeholders on one hand and to create transparency on the other.
One of the trends we see is Denmark’s public portals, where data is easily accessible to all the country’s citizens.

In some cases, data is already available to the public, but is often presented in tables created with old reporting tools and thus not intuitive or easily read and understood by anyone outside of IT. In addition, when it comes to performance the old reporting tools fall behind. Today’s end users are impatient and expect immediate response, so if they are experiencing poor performance, they will stop using the application, and consequently, there will be a low user adoption. In other cases, there are new data sources that need to be interpreted. Regardless of data, it is imperative that the user understands navigating the solution and is able to find the information available.

The whole country as an audience

This might sound like a simple goal, but full data transparency is quite complicated. A public portal should help the entire Danish population to easily find the needed the information while presenting data intuitively, pedagogically, and in a language that people can understand.

When you are dealing with a private company, the typical user is a known entity that can be trained in the solution. But in the case of a public portal solution, the entire country is a potential user. There’s no way of knowing exactly who the user is or how they best use technology. Therefore, the job of visualizing data and creating an intuitive navigation becomes incredibly important.

There is a tremendous amount of power when visualizing data, and we take it very seriously to ensure that there is no misinterpretation and fallacies. The goal of public BI portals is to ensure transparency and thus to ensure that not only professionals but also Mr. And Mrs. Denmark can read the presented data correctly. Therefore, we strive to find the delicate balance between what is 100% technically correct and what is understandable and easy to read for the end user.

How to succeed with a public portal

With the right tool, we have managed to create a public portal where data is easily accessible to all. In Netcompany, we have specialized in developing public BI solutions. An example of this is the Ministry of IT and Learning's reporting environment, where users can find data on student absence, grades, well-being, and much more.

In Denmark, data on every elementary school, upper secondary schools, and vocational education centers is made readily available to citizens and other stakeholders. The solution we created is based on TARGIT Decision Suite, which has created the framework for a successful BI solution for the country. You can see the solution here. Or sreenshot examples here below.
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We believe that the following three key elements should be taken into consideration when working with a portal solution:

Performance: Performance must be top notch. Public portal users are impatient; you have very few seconds to keep users’ attention.
Navigation: The platform must be intuitive, data easy to understand, and further information easy to find.
Visualization: Data visualizations must be sharp and used to get the messages to stand out. Simple messaging is important.

Why TARGIT

As mentioned above, the public portal's user group is very large and not very homogeneous, so it requires a tool that enables easy and intuitive navigation for all. TARGIT Decision Suite offers just that. You can see some of TARGIT's solutions for public portals here

In TARGIT Decision Suite, it is possible to create a mini application where users can navigate directly to the information they need and dive further into data to get all the details via a drill functionality that doesn’t exist in the other frontends available in the market. At the same time, TARGIT's visualization palette offers many customization options such as color and visibility agents. In addition, the solution can handle a large number of users at once.

How to get started

A process at Netcompany typically looks like this: We meet with the customer and get insight into their needs. Because the end-result is usually different from what the customer’s initial defining, it is critically important to understand and reach a common understanding of what the end goal should be. At the same time, we also clarify the level of necessary security. This includes what type of sensitive information should be displayed and whether data should be in the cloud or on-premise.

Next, the development process starts quickly. The process is characterized by being very agile and with a high degree of customer involvement. A first draft is made, which we take out to the customer to get feedback on. Then, we adjust based on the feedback and this process continues until we have a final product. Involving the customer during the development process ensures that we constantly align the developed reports with the customer’s needs. This process is the foundation for a successful BI portal with high user adoption.

Getting started doesn’t have to be a long process. Our development time has fallen considerably, despite an increasing trend towards huge and sometimes quite complex data sets. 

Would you like to hear more about Netcompany and TARGIT's cooperation, feel free to reach out Jeppe Vestergaard at 26321960 (if you're in Denmark) or jv@targit.com.
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