Statistics: Rediscovering Relevance
We live in a time when information is abundant and immediate.
The data services industry has grown quickly and its dimensions are now huge. Entities that generate information have mushroomed and surveys have become a popular way of reinforcing the message. National Statistical Institutes (NSIs) now share with others a space they virtually controlled uncontested for decades. Unprepared for this, and still operating under technical constraints that emanate from regulation, NSIs have relinquished some of their territory, powers and relevance.
Within such a multi-tiered setting, therefore, the challenges are real; it is truly a question of where to start in an endeavour to avoid slipping into the abyss of irrelevance. In a place increasingly consisting of multiple levels of information to process, we are prone to base our judgement on what comes across as the most interpretable and easiest to consume.
While plotting the course towards rediscovered relevance, the external environment within which NSIs operate is a good place to start. It is a changing world and we are living through a key transformation: a data revolution that is clearly shaping how individuals make choices, how entrepreneurs allocate capital and how governments lead their nations.
The complex set of statistics for which NSIs are traditionally renowned may be destined to be relegated well down in the scale of preference in terms of which data our society opts to consume. Data consumption in this day and age follows trends seen in other consumer products, where what stimulates the mind is what is most likely to be in demand. With the extensive usage of the internet, easy access to information and the proliferation of social media that has added a more interactive dimension to information flows, the number of data consumers has increased.
It is hence useful for an NSI to take a cue from developments in consumer trends to update its range of statistical products and find means of delivering them in