14 Sep 2023

DNB: Business Data: The Foundation to “Building a Smarter State” #techUKSmarterState

Guest blog by David Mitton, Head of UK Government Team at Dun & Bradstreet, as part of Building the Smarter State week. #techUkSmarterState

When considering how to build a ‘smarter state’, often the first focus will be on public services, and the consumer-oriented data used to shape these. However, business data can play a crucial foundational role by enabling better decision-making, resource allocation, and policy implementation. In this short blogpost, I will explore how business data can be best utilised. 

The Raw Materials  

Much of the work that Dun & Bradstreet does for the public sector is through the provision of what could be viewed as the raw materials - foundational business data. When integrated with other sources of data (e.g., social, environmental, firmographic), it can support comprehensive insights that help policymakers understand the complex interplay of factors affecting the state, including the potential impact of risk as well as growth opportunities. Data-driven decision making ensures that government actions are based on evidence rather than intuition. Keeping it smart. 

Constructing Policies 

These data-driven decisions support innovation and resilience in equal measure. Global business data can help identify economic trends and challenges, support entrepreneurship, encourage growth in specific sectors and benchmark industry performance, as well as highlighting areas that require targeted interventions.   

This is reflected in levelling-up, understanding the make-up of a regional area from an industrial perspective, as well as the size of organisations. Ensuring that small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are given the right resources to scale is often key to their success. 

Another example is modern slavery, which is a very real issue and there has been much media coverage around this within the production of solar panels for instance. We know going green is important, but so are human rights, and there is still some way to go around the globe in formulating policies in this area.   

Data that helps in understanding your full supply chain, including your suppliers’ suppliers, gives visibility to some of these wider issues. This is still an area under investigation and ripe for future policies, in fact it is one that the Department for Business and Trade’s Global Supply Chain Intelligence Programme is tasked with resolving, amongst others. 

Allocating the Right Resources 

Once the policies are formed, business data provides insights into the areas of the economy that are already thriving and those that need the support, fostering balanced growth.  This has been seen particularly in areas where regional Mayors are in place, with data underpinning the local focus and understanding to help champion and lobby for additional resources.   

Building Resilience 

A lot of airtime has been given over to PPE procurement during COVID 19, this should not be forgotten and the importance of having better visibility of supply chains – specifically the risks in those supply chains -should not be underestimated.  If we are truly building a “smarter state”, supply chain health and wider visibility must be prioritised.  
Most recently, sanctions enforcement, like the ones imposed on Moscow, have taken focus, and data is needed for public sector agencies to understand who they are really doing business with – a key example being intelligence on who is receiving Russian shipments, and to whom the entities are connected to. Trade between China and Russia increased significantly last year, providing a lifeline to Russia’s weakened economy, but these are exposing the limits of Western sanctions, and where better visibility supported by business data is key. 

Fostering Development 

On a more positive note, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship is a key area and technological innovation is critical too. Business data can highlight emerging sectors and identify gaps in the market. The UK Government can leverage such information to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship through the provision of incentives, grants, and to support businesses in the identified sectors, ultimately fostering economic growth and job creation. 

Dun & Bradstreet is already supporting many initiatives across the public sector with the provision of both local and global business data. Through working closely with the public sector, we are seeing much more interest in understanding how risks can be identified and managed in a more collaborative way, so that each department is not duplicating effort.   

In fact, this can be seen in a recent piece of work with the Cabinet Office team who run the Spotlight Grants Management programme.  The team is already embracing the “smarter state” by building a solution that uses the Dun & Bradstreet global business data via an API integration, then using this for risk management, not only for grants but, also in a future iteration for supplier due diligence too.  This is an exciting and comprehensive project; smart in its concept removing duplication, cutting cost, managing risk, saving time and precious resource.

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David Mitton is Head of UK Government Team at Dun & Bradstreet.

From 11 – 15 September techUK is running our annual Building the Smarter State Week in the run-up to the ninth edition of our flagship public services conference, Building the Smarter State, on Wednesday 27 September. Book your tickets here