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Putting data to work

Putting data to work

Published on: 21 August 2018

Steve Caughey, Director of the National Innovation Centre for Data discusses how investment in data analytics and visualisation can provide immediate returns.

In the last blog I talked about the projects that the National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD) will run with organisations in order to provide them with new data skills. In addition to these projects, NICD will also a) raise awareness as to the value of data and the means of obtaining insight from data, and b) map out and support the data ecosystem. I’ll return to the later in another blog but this time around I want to give an example of how we’ll help to raise awareness.

I’ve worked a lot with public (and private) sector organisations over the last ten years helping them to exploit their data and have discovered again and again a sense of frustration as to how little is actually being done with data. Management are generally very aware that they are collecting a lot of data and that insight obtained from that data could improve both operational efficiency and service offerings. “Why isn’t it happening ?”, they ask. Down at the coal face the people trying to manage and make sense of the data are also frustrated. They’re having to deal with data of variable quality from a variety of poorly integrated systems using tools and skills that were appropriate two decades ago.

“Why aren’t management investing to make our job easier and allow us to deliver more value?”, they ask. There’s a fundamental mismatch between the expectation of management and the reality of real-world ‘data wrangling’. We believe that demonstrating how investment in data analytics and visualisation can provide immediate returns will help align the views of management and data professionals. One way we can do this is through the projects we will co-deliver with clients (as discussed in my last blog), another is through collaborative events.

DataJam North East

On September 17th and 18th we’ll be running DataJam North East at the Urban Sciences Building in the centre of Newcastle. This is an event in partnership with DWP, Newcastle City Council, North Tyneside Council, Northumberland Council, the NHS, Police, Fire and other public sector bodies.

At that event we’ll be trying to demonstrate how cross-agency data can be used to address real-world problems, or at least to deliver more insight into the problem. Teams formed from combinations of problem owners, product managers, designers, developers and data analysts from different organisations will work together to explore how data from elsewhere can add context and meaning to their own data and deliver insight into problems that need solving across the region.

We’ve been helping to prepare infrastructure, data and problems and the team from NICD will be there at the event to assist and advise. We’re looking forward to working with all of our regional partners to make this event a success.

If you want a chat about what NICD can offer your organisation, get in touch

About the author: Steve Caughey was a co-founder and CEO of Arjuna Solutions, a Newcastle University spin-out acquired by Hewlett-Packard, and then CEO of Arjuna Technologies whose technology was purchased by RedHat. Today he is Director of the National Innovation Centre for Data, working to help organisations gain the skills they need to obtain insight from their data.


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