It is evident that organizational growth and success starts with data. According to a new study named “Data Driven Organizations: Boosting change success with data” by Capgemini Invent, for which 1,175 professionals and managers from various industries were surveyed worldwide, change success increases by 27 per cent due to a high level of data maturity in the organisation, by 23 per cent due to data-driven leadership, and by 26 per cent as a result of a data-driven culture. Rwanda has seen progress in data management over the past years. However, the country is still on a journey to bridge data insights and have more public and private institutions empowered with the ability to collect data, interpret it, and use these insights to inform decisions. This is one of the reasons why Cenfri, an independent African economic impact agency, is implementing the Rwanda Economy Digitalisation Programme and continues to mobilise institutions around the need to make data-driven decisions. On January 27, the agency organised a breakfast discussion themed bridging data insights and strategic decision-making, which saw different members of private and public sectors gather at Kigali Marriott Hotel. Speaking during the event, Fiacre Mushimire Niyigena, Policy Lead at Cenfri reminded the audience that data is valuable if used, declaring that it goes with the need for organisations to provide as recent information as possible. “We want to encourage people to start understanding that data is only valuable if you are producing something out of it,” he said. “If you just have it for the sake of keeping it, it’s not going to do anything to you. We need to find mechanisms of adding value on top of the data that we have.” Niyigena also noted that Cenfri is encouraging organisations to start thinking about the monetization of data instead of keeping it by charging money to those in need of data. “But even if there is data,” he continued, “there are still issues around data integrity, quality and normalisation, and this is primarily around issues of standards on how data is kept and recorded.” On this, Niyigena explained that there is, for example, a lack of national standards concerning date formats. Sometimes the way names are recorded means that people do not match when compared across different datasets. According to Niyigena, the capacity of the management of organisations also needs to be built and Cenfri is working with the both public and private sectors to enhance that. We’ve realised there is a will at the highest political levels because we received positive feedback from them, but implementers need to be capacitated to think long-term in terms of strategy, he said. Victor Muvunyi, a senior technologist in emerging technologies at the Ministry of ICT and Innovation (MINICT) asserted that the growing use of data in Rwanda is instilled by the digitilisation journey the country has embarked on, explaining that many services are now being accessed online. This has made available a lot of administrative data that can be used to enhance services and give insights when it comes to innovating as well as informing decisions. He declared that the journey to share data efficiently is ongoing, which is why the ministry is trying to mobilise public, private as well as non-governmental institutions to think of how they can make their data shareable within the legal framework. “With development partners like Cenfri, we are trying to show these organisations the value of their data which relies upon sharing rather than holding data. By creating pipelines that could help them get more data, they can get a 360 view of the policy they want to emphasize on or a kind of decision they want to make,” he said. Muvunyi also noted that a lot of investment should be done in terms of cloud computing and enhancing computation power for people to work with the data and get insights, adding that organizational structures also need to be changed. The way they gather data in the long run will help them to harness the services they are providing. He urged young people to join data science and engineering professions, declaring that there is a gap that needs to be filled as well as opportunities they can tap into. During the event, Vivens Uwizeyimana, Founder and CEO of Umurava Work, one of the local startups that have embraced the use of data, shared their experience. He said that when they started, it was easy for them to manage the data of 500 people, but when the company began providing many services, they employed advanced software in their job including MongoDB. Uwizeyimana noted that currently, Umurava Work uses data in their talent vetting system and has introduced data-driven assessments and tests as well as training programs. Their talent marketplace, which is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), also uses matching algorithms, supervised learning techniques as well as regression, the tools the young founder said help them to make data-driven decisions that help the company to thrive.