This article examines the opportunities presented by effectively harnessing big data in the public sector context. The article is exploratory and reviews both academic- and practitioner–oriented literature related to big data developments. The findings suggest that big data will have an impact on the future role of public sector organizations in functional areas. However, the author also reveals that there are challenges to be addressed by governments in adopting big data applications. To realize the benefits of big data, policy-makers need to: invest in research; create incentives for private and public sector entities to share data; and set up programmes to develop appropriate skills.