Kainos: NDS: We know the destination, but how will we get there?

The UK government’s National Data Strategy (NDS) vision is to change the narrative from data being seen as a vulnerability, to becoming key in helping to protect against threats. In addition to this, data should be seen as something that can add to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the national economy.  

As pointed out by critics like Brian McKenna, how we will get there and what the vision looks like in practice isn’t as clear. 

There are hurdles in the way, such as; 

Tangible targets 

Out of 282 respondents, Kainos together with Faculty consulted on the strategy. We’re at the beginning of the journey, it’s a great start with some good detail but there is an absence of clear long-term targets or deadlines. This level of detail is important for all parties to understand if this ambitious goal is achievable.  


This is an opportunity to be data-first, with an influence on priorities in government, but there hasn’t been a clear owner of the strategy to help drive it forward. A CTO and minister working together to drive it forward, identifying key priorities and providing tangible headlines would help pave the way. 

Data skills 

The government has committed to developing data skills, which has been shown through initiatives such as training 500 civil servants. However, an increased requirement for specialist skills will remain a hurdle until there is a clear long-term plan for developing new talent to address the skills gap. This should include the introduction of data science into the school curriculum to accompany technology and mathematics. 


Another area which needs more consideration is privacy. Privacy concerns which citizens have could be resolved by getting the NDS right, while unlocking substantial value for data analytics. This would mean removing barriers to data sharing, and further exploring the middle ground between pseudo-anonymised and fully anonymous data. 

What’s next? 

The government recognises this as an iterative strategy, which means updating it often. This will help support the removal of the aforementioned hurdles.  

We are keen to understand how the strategy will be implemented, and how the next step is executed. Showing the UK economy, the value and benefits which could be derived from its data while protecting its citizens is important. The need for strong leadership from the government departments is essential to drive this forward. The strategy will come to life with early implementation and exemplar data services, as we experienced when the UK government successfully embraced digital transformation to become a leading digital nation. 

We’re at the beginning of a long journey to deliver the NDS vision. 

About this Author

Peter Campbell.jpg

This Guest blog was written by Peter Campbell Data & AI Practice Director, Kainos. With over 22 years' experience working in Kainos, Peter is an expert in digital and data transformation. Peter drives the adoption of production AI/ML services for our customers to solve challenges not possible before. Learn more about this author. To know more about Kainos, please visit their LinkedIN and Twitter.

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