At ABC’s recent board retreat, it became apparent that collating and analyzing member data in an actionable form is a key strategy for ABC. That got me thinking, developing robust data strategy is not unique to ABC as an organization, but is also critical for each of our member blood centers. Data is an ubiquitous commodity generated across an entire organization, amplified by vastly reduced data storage costs over the last few years, resulting in a remarkable amount and variety of data being available. IT applications are also increasingly specialized and focused on different areas of business operations, which results in data becoming ever-increasingly siloed into “data islands.”
As an example, consider all the IT systems responsible for collecting and maintaining donor information: blood es-tablishment computer systems (BECS), donor relationship management, donor scheduling, mobile applications, automated telecom systems, etc. This is causing data to be segregated and stored across many IT systems with many different definitions for very similar data.
The solution to these challenges is a comprehensive data strategy. The data strategy has to be created and supported at the C-Suite level with IT leaders playing critical roles in strategic decision making. Such cross-departmental col-laboration ensures the data collected today is still usable in the future. A well-planned strategy should not only include the sources, types, and systems, but also data standards and governance.
The executive team should include a dedicated business leader to lead the strategy. Since most of the data is generated from the business centric applications spawned across multiple departments, it is imperative that the leader comes from a business background. The leader has to be a good data-steward and must ensure there is consensus and con-formance to a data standard across the various areas of the organization.
The good news is that most of the organizations across the health care industry are increasingly focused on their data strategy, as can be noticed by the newly minted corporate titles of Chief Data Officer, Chief Analytics Officer, and Chief Digital Officer. Most organizations are also working on a comprehensive Business Intelligence or Data Analytics division or program within their organizations, which are helping meet some of these needs.
Overall we can all agree that, irrespective of the organization size, there is a treasure trove of data that will be collected and available in the next decade. The real question will be if the organization will have a data strategy to use it to their advantage and make it an inherent strength of the organization. ABC’s data strategy comprises of our DataWarehouse initiative that can complement and support our members’ data strategy. Considering how critical of a role data will play within organizations to differentiate and enable them in the future, it is now imperative to answer the question “What is my organization’s data strategy?”
Sameer Ughade; Director, Information Technology& Business Intelligence