Win Friends and Influence People with Accurate Data
In Computer Weekly’s UKtech50, Sarah Wilkinson was the winner and named the most influential person in UK IT. Sarah is Chief Executive at NHS Digital and part of her role at the NHS is overseeing digital transformation strategies in the health and social care sector. Data collection is a key part of what Sarah and her team focus on and through the Covid-19 pandemic, it proved crucial.
Their actions in providing fast access to accurate data, supporting a variety of research projects by providing deep data analysis and their expertise, as well as ensuring rich data visualisation methods were there to help experts quickly understand how the coronavirus pandemic was impacting the UK certainly led to Sarah and her team winning friends and influencing people over the past 18 months. But accurate data didn’t just help the UK; NHS digital has recently signed a deal with DXC Technology and CSIRO, the National Science Agency in Australia, with the remit of improving data sharing across worldwide organisations.
How important is accurate data?
NHS Digital’s team, together with NHS England’s managing director of data and analytics, who was named the most influential person in data and analytics by DataIQ this year, have shown just how important data is, but not just any data, accurate data. They’ve also demonstrated how important it is to share that data. The global pandemic highlighted the need for industry, as well as countries, to work together digitally to overcome national and international challenges.
The government set out their UK National Data Strategy earlier this year which has shown their commitment to making the UK a world-leading data economy. It is based on four pillars:
- Data foundations – that the value of data is only realised when it is in a standardised format, is fit for purpose, and that it is findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. The better the quality and accuracy the data is, the more effective it will be in delivering key insights for everyone.
- Data skills – as a nation, we should have a pool of data skills that can be utilised to make the best use of the data, i.e. our education system must provide people with the opportunity to develop their data skills.
- Data availability – the data must be accessible, reusable and mobile for it to create an effective impact. To achieve this, there needs to be better access, coordination and sharing of accurate data between public, private and third sector organisations whilst protecting the flow of data internationally.
- Responsible data – in increasing the use of data, it must be used responsibly, i.e. it must be secure, ethical, fair, lawful, accountable and sustainable. At the same time, the data must support research and innovation.
Whilst digital transformation was on the way up for most businesses, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of digitalisation exponentially. Marketers are now actively using valuable data insights across digital mediums – websites, social media platforms and online advertising – to tailor their product and service offerings to drive business growth.
That accurate data is helping businesses personalise their websites and other digital marketing activities to offer consumers exactly what they want. They use the data to ‘influence’ and ‘win’ customers.
The challenge of managing data
Gathering data is one thing; learning how to manage and use that data is another matter entirely. For many businesses that have been forced into the digital world by the pandemic, the new challenge they are now facing is how to manage that data and use it to their advantage. According to a recent survey by The Drum, 63% of businesses are struggling with unconnected data sets. In addition, 75% of respondents said they were only able to identify fewer than 20% of their website visitors.
Research by MuleSoft found that 54% of UK businesses were dealing with data access and management challenges around a shortage of skills and data that has been siloed. From the moment a business starts to collect data through their digital communication channels and interactions with customers, they are presented with the opportunity of gathering valuable insights to help them predict customer behaviour.
Understanding and managing the data to influence customers and win them over across different channels, and devices, is becoming crucial to business success in the digital world. Your data is one of your most valuable assets but just how do you manage it and gain the all-important insights to win friends and influence people?
- Connect your data channels – before you can do any deep-diving into your data, you’ve got to bring it all together into one But this must be done in compliance with data protection regulations.
- Cleanse your data – now you’ve got your data, not all of it is useful. There are a variety of data management and analytical tools available that will help you leverage insights from your data that can be integrated into your decision-making process.
- Address data skill gaps with employees – a shortage of data skills is stopping many businesses from using their data in a positive, responsible way to influence people and win friends. Identify any skill gaps and address them with training.
- Share your data – as long as it is done securely, fairly, ethically and sustainably, consider sharing your data with other like-minded organisations to drive growth for your industry. This will help to identify key trends in customer behaviour, as well as growing use of technology by consumers, such as mobile devices, proving invaluable in meeting customer wants and demand.
Ultimately, data is knowledge and knowledge is power. That said, data is only effective if it is accurate. Winning friends and influencing people is not always about attracting more customers. It’s also about identifying key trends and helping others; just look at how accurate data helped the UK, and the world, in managing the coronavirus pandemic.
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