Data Alone Isn’t Your Most Valuable Commodity – Your Culture Is

Prior to joining Next Level Administrators (NLA), I spent over a decade as a consultant helping companies find ways to leverage their data as an asset. Despite the wide array of industries, technologies, data expertise, and goals of those companies, there always seemed to be the same foundational gaps in their data management practices keeping them from realizing success. But by far the most overlooked challenge of building and maintaining a successful data analytics program was fostering a data-driven culture.

When a culture is data-driven and embraces data analytics, companies reap the benefits – from better employee understanding of individual, team, and corporate goals, to leveraging data as a guide to evidenced-based decision making. The former CEO of HP, Carly Fiorina, stated, “…the goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.” Taking it one step further, a data-driven culture is the fuel that turns insight into action, and your organization’s culture becomes your most valuable commodity.

How to refine a data-driven culture

Democratize the data

Jess Greenwood, formerly of Contagious and now with R/GA North America, said, “Data is the new oil. It’s only useful when it’s refined!” If data is the new oil, it is leadership’s duty to make sure that oil is refined into a useful process and product, then distributed to the hard-working engines (employees) of the organization. It’s a mistake to keep the data within the confines of the data analysts. Striving to make information pervasive, consumable, and understandable throughout and outside the organization is key. With a powerful set of tools for data analysis and exploration, claims teams and clients should have access to data anytime, anywhere. Dashboard analytics provide visible data and give claims teams and clients relevant information at their fingertips. This creates a huge level of efficiency and empowers claims teams and clients to use data to elevate their own performance.

Remember the human component of business

The human component is often forgotten in the excitement over data analytics. After all, we are talking about culture. It’s not about the data having deep, engaging, insightful, meaningful conversations with clients it’s the people who make up the organization. The leadership of a business needs to understand that expertise is more important than the tools being used and cannot lose sight of the value of personal experience and compassion. Data analytics is not a substitute for expertise, but rather a catalyst for elevated execution. Data is only as powerful as the person who uses it as a basis for critical thinking and is willing to take action. You will never run out of data; in fact, you may even have too much of it. With a data driven culture, an organization knows what to do with data and how to use it to keep the company running.

Actively communicate goals and how data analytics supports them

You can’t manage success if you don’t measure progress. Exceeding the expectation of clients is one thing; proving it is another. Visual data analytics help adjusters process claims more efficiently. It also holds the adjusters accountable for delivering outcomes that are in the best interest of the employer and the injured employee. When a claims team has a clear understanding of their goals, how performance is measured, and why performance measurements are of utmost importance, then managing success is owned by the entire organization, not just at the executive level.

Challenge the team to stay engaged and accountable to the data-centric vision

Giving team-oriented scorecards to claims managers provides a tool for facilitating data-centric performance conversations with their team and encourages a healthy sense of “co-opetition.” At the same time, giving claims adjusters their own individualized scorecards shows progress towards their goals and highlights areas of success and opportunity. Success depends on a team who understands the responsibility of maintaining a healthy data ecosystem and is committed to data quality excellence. Data quality issues are not only immediately visible, but also become actionable. Data is unquestionably the new oil – but if you don’t know how to use it or have a culture that fuels it, you will never get results.

As a company founded on using data analytics to perform as a leader in workers’ compensation claims administration, Next Level Administrators understood from the beginning the importance of blending data and technology with a strong, experienced team of claims administration professionals. Although our mantra is to disrupt the status quo in the claims administration industry, we remain cognizant of the effects a data-driven approach can have on clients. In my opinion, the key to success lies in the ability to invest, refine, and encourage a culture to rely on the human component to make fact-based decisions, to embrace the power data can bring to the table, and to seek to elevate performance with data analytics. Without an organization’s culture to fuel the use of data as a tool to achieve greater results, data will lie dormant and crude.

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