Information Technology

Data In Business Transformation

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<p style="text-align: justify;">There is much talk today about big data, analytics, and digital transformation. It can be easy to get lost in buzzwords, but the truth is that every company has tremendous opportunities to unlock the value of its data stores.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In fact, out of everything I've done in my over three decades in IT, it has always been projects around data where I have seen the greatest transformation within a business.</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Traditional Method of Businesses</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The first time I saw this was almost 20 years ago; I joined a supplementary staffing business where workers were put out to client sites and submitted timesheets; these timesheets became the basis for payroll and billing. However, both had a complex series of rules.</span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Payroll was not simply an hourly rate; it differed based on the schedule &ndash; day, afternoon, night &ndash; and attracted allowances for working in certain conditions.</span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">So, the Financial Controller spent one day a month calculating the margin report for each branch, identifying profitability &ndash; the number we all want to see where both direct and indirect costs are extracted from revenue, leaving something left over.</span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Of course, it might also identify unprofitability; by then, it could be up to seven weeks since the problem happened. By the time the report came out, any chance to react and control the problem was gone. It can't be changed now, and the budget overrun might have continued for several weeks without it being noticed.</span></p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Impact of Digital Transformation on Business&nbsp;</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">When I commenced, I saw this problem and felt it was, technically, easy to resolve. As payroll and billing were both driven by timesheets, I could make a dashboard calculating the margins for any branch (and client and worker) for any prior period, including the week itself, as timesheets were progressively entered.</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Availability of Right Information at Right Time</span></span></strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The effect it had on the company is something I will never forget. Suddenly, branch managers had actionable information right at a time when they could step in if their figures were trending down. Every day counted, and they could see the figures as they appeared.&nbsp;</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">And, what's more, it created friendly competition. Branch managers would work harder on their sales and customer service to fight over who would have the best results that week.</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">It seems obvious in hindsight but putting actionable insights into the hands of people that allowed them to run their business and make intelligent, informed decisions changed the company's culture positively and dramatically.</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">This was technically simple to achieve, but I was stunned by its impact.</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">It took a decade to top it, but I spoke with a health business with 55 practices. During my interview, the CFO told me she has four accountants who, each month, would spend four days remotely logging in to 55 servers, running 55 copies of the core practice management system, running reports, and copying numbers into Excel.</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The CFO and I calculated that the business spent 490 hours per month on gathering data for standard and routine reporting alone &ndash; or the equivalent of 3.3 full-time staff. When I joined, I found it wasn't only finance; anybody in marketing or operations or customer service who needed data &ndash; for example, every patient who attended a year ago but not since &ndash; would go through a similar process.</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I built a data warehouse that aggregated data from each disparate practice database and connected a business intelligence platform to it. Again, technically straightforward, but once again, the impact it had on the business was astonishing.<br /></span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>Saved Time and Effort</strong><br /></span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">With all the numbers on past performance right at its fingertips &ndash; those 490 hours of effort eradicated &ndash; attention could turn to future performance.&nbsp;</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">It was an actual "turn the dial" moment. Instead of worrying about how much the business spent or made a month ago, it was thinking about the surgery utilisation next week.&nbsp;</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">If there were gaps in the appointment book, could future appointments be brought forward? Could patients be reminded about recommended treatment plans and encouraged to return? What was the effect of marketing campaigns in real-time? What would be the right level of staffing?</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Data for Insights</span></span></strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">What's more, we could mine the data for insights. We determined that failure to attend &ndash; when a patient does not show up, without notice, for their appointment &ndash; was highest on Mondays, and overlaying it with weather data also showed a strong correlation with wet weather.&nbsp;</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">We also found a direct relationship between how complete a practitioner's appointment book was and their net promoter score (NPS) rating. The better their customer service, the more business they got. It is intuitive, but we had real numbers to educate our practitioners on it.</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">There is more, so much more, but the point is simply out of everything I've ever done in my long career in IT &ndash; software, networking, call centres, infrastructure, cloud &ndash; it's always been data and information and giving people actionable insights that have indeed had the greatest effect on a company's culture.</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">There's much talk about analytics and transformation, and if you've been on the fence about whether it's for you or worth the investigation and investment, then let me assure you that this could be the greatest business-changing project you embark on.</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><em>This article was contributed by our expert <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/dataexcellence/">David Williams</a></em></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h3 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 18pt;">Frequently Asked Questions Answered by David Williams</span></h3><h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">1. What is the role of data and analytics on a business transformation journey?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">It enables the technology and processes to gather and analyze data to help organizations to become agile by understanding the performance and working on the optimization.</span></p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">2. What is big data in digital transformation?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Big data enables businesses to collect data from various sources which can be used to analaze and make decisions.<br /></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p>
KR Expert - David Williams