Driving Value from “Useless” Data

As individuals, we are all very good at generating data.  Some organizations are also great at collecting and storing data.  However, creating, collecting and storing data has costs and impact.  The costs can be great even as the price for storage is falling especially when the value of the data you are collecting may not be obvious.

The impact is also real in that managing all of this data can impact the daily operations of an organization.  However, there is FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to data.  We have heard that data is important, even critical, to an organization so we are sometimes frightened to discard any of it.

The Value of Data

Often, in organizations you try something and then try to judge if it had the desired effect.  Action, without data to prove the decision has merit, or to prove the desired results were achieved, are often educated guesses.  While this certainly works some of the time, organizations are far more successful when their:

  1. Actions are based in facts
  2. Results are measured and evaluated effectively

Data, without action, is a burden.  Action, without data, is a gamble.

Alternatively, let’s look at it this way:

Data + Action = Value

When we harness the power of data,  the insights that exist within our data can be used to drive action that brings value.  This is the hallmark of today’s most successful organizations and is something that we all must learn to do, no matter how big or small.

In Practice

As part of the Smart and Connected project, Family Plus partnered with Enterprise Saint John and T4G to use the data they have been collecting for years to see how it could better predict when clients would not show up for appointments and adjust processes accordingly.  More information about this project can be found here https://bit.ly/2N56R9b.

This is where “Useless” data comes up.  For years, Family Plus has been diligent in collecting as much data as they could about their clients, appointments, events, etc. and maintaining this data within a central solution which ensured the data was organized, consistent and useful.  In some cases, staff did not understand why they were collecting as much data was they were and even questioned the value of it, but it is now proving to have been a wise decision.

While the final results are not in, through evaluation of both useful data (data Family Plus needed to run their day to day operations) and “useless” data (data that was not needed for day to day but added context to day to day events) the team was able to dispel some assumptions around why clients don’t show up for appointments.  A model will accurately identify people who are most at risk of missing their allotted time and, through changes in the processes related to scheduling, put in measures to reduce the risk that these clients will miss their scheduled appointment.

Family Plus has used their Data to initiate a project where they will Action the insight to drive new procedures to reduce the amount of missed appointments.  Any reduction in missed appointments will drive real Value for the organization and allow Family Plus to better deliver on their mission to deliver services to the community.

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