On “Big Data”
I have been extremely fortunate over the years to have known some exceptional thinkers, strategists, and visionaries. Their counsel has been instrumental in whatever success I have enjoyed, and in the case of those mentors outside blood banking, their insights into the challenges and opportunities that they have faced in their respective industries and which may impact our world, have been quite instructive. Such is the case with a board member and mentor from my former employer, who happens to also own a bank (I'll call him Joe).
Over the years, in addition to being a great friend and leader of the blood center board, he has been a strong proponent for the power of sharing data, particularly using benchmarking to drive performance. He recently shared background on a data management and reporting company, a venture started over 40 years ago in the financial banking field, which helped numerous organizations improve local performance. The company (www.smslp.com) started by Alex Sheshunoff took information available through Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) filings and delivered two things: common characteristics of high performing banks and reports for individual banks comparing them to their peer organizations in terms of performance. Those who used the information could set performance improvement targets and track relative success over time.
There are now a number of firms that provide the same type of information, but I think the takeaway here is twofold. First, in an extremely competitive and heavily regulated industry like banking, sharing performance data has become second nature - and the collective, along with their customers, has benefited greatly from it. And second, the free sharing of data has not harmed individual banks; instead those who embraced the power of benchmarking simply improved their performance ahead of those who did not. So their experience was not one of using information against a competitor, it was a clear case of using data to improve their own performance.
As our "big data" capabilities in blood banking evolve, I encourage us to learn from the financial banking experience and accelerate our move toward more transparent and open information sharing. We have a myriad of opportunities to leverage our collective strength in advocacy, advance important medical initiatives, and improve operating performance through access to a robust, but very secure, data repository. But in "big data" size does matter; so the more comprehensive and inclusive our reporting, the more power we will have to pursue our respective interests and deliver value to our communities. As always, thanks for the idea Joe.
Dave Green, Board President; DGreen@bloodsystems.org