Simon Kaffel, Data and Analysis Director

The Power of Data: Unlocking actionable insight

First published by SOCITM - Society for Innovation Technology and Modernisation

Data. It’s everywhere we turn.

From seeing how many steps you have walked today, to your phone knowing when you need to leave the house to make it to your train on time, we are surrounded by numbers and calculations.

But how do we make best use of all this information? And how do we take raw data and turn it into great stories that our organisations can use in meaningful ways?

A lot of businesses are obsessed with capturing data, but they are far too focused on the amount they gather. What gets missed is the ‘so what?’

What are we going to do with all this data? And how can we use it to affect change in the business and for customers?

These are the questions leaders in organisations should be asking of their data teams.

I was brought into Sovereign last year to embed data into the heart of the business. It may sound daunting, but data is an opportunity and not a burden – for all landlords.

It is the lifeblood of any business.

The human body will not grow and flourish if there isn’t healthy blood flowing through it. It’s a similar scenario with organisations and data.

That is the intersection of leadership and data. Leadership is needed to get the right data flowing to the right bits of the business.

When there is clarity of what we are trying to achieve, we can manipulate data to highlight problems, create detailed insight into what is happening and then offer up solutions.

Then investments in data assets, technology and people start to make sense. Even for those who don’t consider themselves tech-savvy.

Left to their own devices, data analysts can build you amazing solutions using AI and machine learning.

But do you really need them?

You can spend a fortune buying into the latest tech trend to solve problems you never really had.

That is why it is so important that data experts have a good understanding of an organisation’s purpose.

Understanding wider business aims and objectives, along with specific KPIs that teams are trying to hit, means teams can use data and technology to address the challenges that will have the biggest impact.

Teams can use the data at their disposal to empower colleagues – ensuring they have all the information they need to carry out  their roles at their fingertips – and  setting in motion a journey that will see services and customer experience continuously improve.  

How we present that data is key to achieving this. Data works best when it tells a compelling story.

The business needs to be able to access information in a way that is engaging and not via complex spreadsheets or bits of code.

People understand pictures and dashboards. We need to visualise the story we want the business to know about and make everyone want to see it in action.

That’s how we put data at the heart of the business.

The role of data in our Covid response 

When the pandemic hit, Sovereign went from operating across multiple office sites to the whole business working remotely.

It was incredibly important that we continued to have the oversight of what was going on in our communities and in the organisation itself.

We needed accurate management information in order to make decisions in real time.

The data and analysis team developed a suite of dashboards that gave an overview of each of the directorates in the business.

We served that information up in a timely and accurate way that was intuitive and digestible, allowing the business and individual teams to become agile and make informed decisions on where investment and resources needed to be deployed, in a rapidly changing environment.