Arkansas Dodges the Big Data Trough of Disillusionment

With Gartner claiming that Big Data is heading for its fabled “Trough of Disillusionment,” it’s nice to run across a story that shows the technology being warmly embraced with positive outcomes forecasted.

Such is the case with the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), which will be using Big Data to modernize the delivery of social and healthcare services.

IBM announced last week that DHS will be implementing its IBM Smarter Cities solution, which provide Big Data analytics, social program management, and advanced security.  One of the major benefits of the roll out will be to transform an IT infrastructure that for some time ago has been mired in the Slough of Despond, to borrow a term from John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.

This will be DHS’ first step in transforming an IT infrastructure that is composed of more than 30 discrete system silos in an aging architecture,” said Dick Wyatt, chief information officer for Arkansas DHS. “Having a total view of our clients in one application — using the latest technology — will provide DHS with the ability to better manage the services provided. In addition, it will give DHS the ability to react more timely and efficiently to the many changes that are occurring and will continue to occur in the human services and healthcare arena.”

DHS will modernize its infrastructure with a service-oriented architecture that fully integrates its many different programs into, according to the IBM press release, “one re-usable and scalable platform.”  The new system will support such state social programs as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. The state’s adoption of Big Data analytics is expected to make it much easier for citizens to not only access government services, but achieve a satisfactory outcome as well.

According to the release, the heart of the new system is the IBM Cúram Social Program Management Platform. DHS is also deploying Cognos business intelligence software, Tivoli security solutions, DB2, Infosphere and Rational capabilities. All the software will run on IBM Power Systems.

So, the expectation is that the ability to crunch and analyze Big Data from DHS and other relevant departments will allow Arkansas to better deliver social programs to its citizens. IBM, of course, is on hand to help. Said Craig Hayman, general manager, Industry Solutions at IBM. “…the state can benefit from our deep healthcare industry expertise combined with an ability to apply that knowledge with Big Data analytics solutions that are secure and maximize existing technology investments.”

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