The New South Wales government has announced signing Microsoft to help it commercialise its data science capabilities, initially focusing on the state's AU$30 billion procurement spend. Big data is transitioning from one of the most hyped and anticipated tech trends of recent years into one of the biggest challenges that IT is now trying to wrestle and harness. We examine the technologies and best practices for taking advantage of big data and provide a look at organizations that are putting it to good use. The NSW Data Analytics Centre (DAC), stood up in August 2015, will work with the local arm of Microsoft to offer data-related products both inside and outside of government, and "turbo-charge" the government's digital and data agenda. Under the arrangement, DAC data scientists are using Microsoft Azure and a range of Azure cognitive services to build a machine learning neural network to categorise how the NSW government's AU$30 billion annual procurement budget is allocated each year.
Prior to the launch of OneGov, the Software-as-a-Service provider to the NSW government and provider of Service NSW, the state government was running in silos and on outdated systems, some of which were up to 40 years old. OneGov technology head Rahul Dutta explained recently at OpenStack Day Australia that each department -- whether it was transport, education, or justice -- ran their own different systems and processes which resulted in duplications, poor data quality, restraint on budgets, and ultimately impacted the way customers connected with the state government. Dutta went on to say that when the state government realised the problem it had, there was a decision to consolidate each department's processes into one platform. He said part of that process meant re-engineering each department's line of business, which Dutta pointed out had a lot of similarities. "What we found was there was a huge amount of similarities in how cases were managed, how payments are done, how partners are managed, and what we decided was to create and re-engineer business processes and create a new platform," he said.