Dynamics Matters Podcast Ep 64: What is your level of data maturity?

With special guest David Martin, Transformation Manager, Isle of Wight Council

✔ How to get more value from your data

✔ What is a data maturity assessment?

✔ How to provide residents with the right services in the right places

Transcript

Welcome to episode 64 of the HSO Dynamics matters podcast.

Your regular sonic dive into the world of Microsoft technology related matters and much more besides.

I’m your host Michael Lonnon, and in this episode, I sailed across the channel to the beautiful Isle of Wight for a chat with Transformation Manager David Martin.

I wanted to find out why data and its management is a critical part of delivering proactive services and positive citizen experiences.

So, grab a brew, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Michael Lonnon

Share a good idea or keep it to yourself?

David Martin

Share a good idea.

Michael Lonnon

You yourselves at the Isle of Wight council have just gone through a data maturity assessment. I want to find out from you David, why do you think data is important?

David Martin

We need to realise the value of our data more. We all know how much data we have in a local authority, it’s absolutely enormous. We deliver so many services, but we need to get to grips with how each service influences the performance of other services. Everything can be done in in silos. I think we’ve dwindling resources as ever, and higher demand for services, particularly around a social care agenda. We have a rapidly ageing population on the Isle of Wight, and that’s why we need to start evidencing some of the things that we implicitly know or expect and make them explicit and undeniable.

Michael Lonnon

How big a problem is data silos?

David Martin

It’s a significant problem, because by not comparing data from one service to another, we’re not making resource decisions. perhaps with the amount of evidence that we should be using. That goes for all decisions, really. If we’re not looking at the data, not just about the service that might be affected or involved in the decision, but those on the fringes of it, or even those that are seemingly unconnected, we’re not looking at the whole picture.

Michael Lonnon

It’s the whole insights driven data driving insight.

David Martin

Very much about insights. Whether that be about providing more predictive analysis about how our performance may improve or suffer moving forward and, from a more external view, looking at the needs of our residents and protecting them over time. There’s a desire here to stop looking retrospectively at data. What happened last month, what happened last week, and to progress to where we can look at what’s happening now. We’ve made advancements there and the next step is trying to work out what’s going to happen.

Michael Lonnon

Trying to understand the explicit nature of why you’re doing things is what prompted you to undertake the data maturity assessment. To try and get a handle on where things are, how they are and how they integrate, and so on. How do you think then you’re going to use the insight you’ve put together at the moment? How will that change things for the better?

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David Martin

it should allow us to provide or commission the services that our residents actually need ahead of when they need them, and have them ready for when they need them, and in the right places as well. There’s the geo element to it as well. Although we are an island, and we are enclosed, as I said earlier, we’ve got an ageing population and mobility is an issue, public transport is fairly thin on the ground in rural areas here, we want to make sure we’re providing the right services in the right places, and that people at who can’t access services, we can identify the clusters they’re in and the locations they’re at.

Michael Lonnon

Out of interest, do you think the value of data is well understood? Is it a cultural aspect within Isle of Wight Council, or do you think it is part of an education as much as anything else?

David Martin

Absolutely it is a part of it. There’s a huge learning journey. Part of what we have to do is that professional development, not just for the people working on data, and producing reports and analysis, but also those consuming it. So our directors and senior managers, what’s the most important data they need regularly. Moving from a position where they’re provided with everything in great detail, rather than in a scalable way. They can also see important stuff at high level and then drill down based on curiosity, or an indicator that tells them something. They also need access from one place, and it’s same for our elected members as well. So whether they are a cabinet member that has a particular remit, to provide them information all in one place, or for their ward duties, to be able to see all the information disaggregated to a ward level. Bring it all together in one place.

Michael Lonnon

There’s always going to be a challenge in bringing everything together. Getting the information into one place is one thing and then combining sources is almost impossible.

David Martin

It’s really about learning and having people accept that as a principal. That we’re going to share data and we’re going to bring data together for particular consumers of it because as an intelligence team, those consumers are our customers. So, we have to listen to what they want. If we try and go ahead on a journey and just tell them what they want, chances are, we’ll get that wrong. Customer’s always right.

Michael Lonnon

How far are you on this journey?

David Martin

We’re very early. We’ve had a data maturity assessment completed, which has provided us with what I think is some excellent recommendations, and probably what we would have expected. Had our team conducted the assessment internally, we feel we would have come up with something similar, not exactly the same, but we felt that the independent view of what was going on here was important for the credibility of an assessment. Otherwise, it’s just a corporate team telling everyone what they’re doing wrong again, and they tend to shun that. So that’s really important. We will take those recommendations and look at the principles we feel we want to follow and then will initiate maybe four or five projects that will make us implement those recommendations. We will do it by the principles we’re setting ourselves and the principles are around sharing data and, to an extent, pulling the data analysis results within the council. We almost certainly won’t move to change the organisational structure where we put all analytics in one department that has been attempted on the Isle of Wight a couple of times before, and I’m not going to be the next person to put their name on the paper suggesting it. So, it’s going to be softly, softly. We have an analyst network, as we have agile working. What I will probably recommend is that a couple of days a month, we just co locate all the council analyst on one floor of the building, don’t necessarily have to be working together but we’ll be listening into each other and having informal chats. So informally, in terms of that, that’s another principle really. Another principle is that we want to be able to tie as many things to location.

Michael Lonnon

You’ve got a plan, you’re early in the journey, you’ve got some ideas about how you are going to move this forward. This is just such an obvious thing to say but the only reason, the only purpose, the real value of managing data and improving your insight and bringing it all into one place is so that, as you’ve said before, you can provide more proactive services to the people you’re working with on the island and support them in the best way so they can live their best lives.

David Martin

We can provide an analyst service rather than a reporting service. I think that’s an important distinction. We have a number of people whose role it is to provide retrospective reporting and we want to move to a point where we can automate as much of that as possible, and then their time and the personal development of those people was more into analysis than just, you know, retrospective reporting.

Michael Lonnon

What do you think is going to be your biggest challenge in trying to change not the mentality but the ability to get value from data?

David Martin

Our biggest challenge is not selling the principles of the idea because putting the right way everyone think is a great idea because you’re offering them an improved service. No one’s ever going to have a problem with that. The difficulty is going to be in effect the seed resources as a central team here. We are quite small, we’re called the organisational intelligence unit and that covers a gamut of things that don’t get picked up anywhere else. So, performance management, corporate risk management, project and programme management, business analysis and office move, but that’s a longer story.

Michael Lonnon

How does that fit?

David Martin

There were projects to manage, and I think when there were big office moves to take place, there was nobody in place to manage those. So, we took that on, and effectively we became owners of that. We also find time to deliver training on project management and change management. So busy, busy bunch of varied individuals, we work quite well but when something like this is new, it will be new technology, it will be new processes, there’ll be new ideology, we don’t have a huge base to push from. So that will be our biggest challenge whether we can make enough quick wins so we can convince the organisation to provide and focus resources for a short period of time on that one to further embed.

Summary

Evidencing the things you implicitly know and making them explicit and undeniable.

This, for David, is where the value of data comes into its own.

Turning guesswork into fact so decisions the Isle of Wight makes, and services they provide, lead to better outcomes for its citizens.

But solving a challenge like getting more value from data is not easy. And this is why the Isle of Wight took the sensible decision of using a data maturity assessment to detail their current position.

Because by knowing what their starting point is, they can better plot their way to clearing the hurdles to better data management.

Thanks for listening, until next time, take care of yourselves.

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