/ Opportunities and Obstacles to Democratizing Data

As we flatten the curve and health systems treat an array of critically ill patients, technology plays a crucial role in expanding access to care in vulnerable populations, bringing the outbreak under control, and shaping society after the pandemic passes.

Neil Gomes, executive vice president and chief digital officer of Jefferson Health’s Digital Innovation and Consumer Experience (DICE) Group, understands businesses of all types face an unprecedented challenge as COVID-19 sweeps across the globe.

His work puts him in close contact with rapid changes that demand quick insights, and highlights why older, more rigid styles of business intelligence and data management just don’t work in today’s climate.

Neil and the DICE Group have formulated a range of pandemic solutions including online clinical training, expanded telehealth offerings, systems for tracking COVID-19 exposure and symptoms, and more—all to empower Jefferson Health with the tools needed to save lives and keep workers safe without skipping a beat.

We heard Neil’s story as a part of TDWI’s recent webinar, “Accelerate Analytics to Get Ahead of Change,”  hosted by senior research director David Stodder.

During the webinar, Neil shared how the DICE Group was prepared with the intuitive tools and operational frameworks required to find, process, analyze, and share data to handle a crisis—and better enable Jefferson’s mission to improve lives by developing digital solutions that make a difference.

We also learned how the pain of change can show through new types of BI users as David discussed the challenges in getting insights to decision-makers more quickly. Neil and David also discussed how organizations—with the latest technologies, cloud-based data services, and analytics practices—have the opportunity to be data-empowered and proactive in the face of disruptions—and show inarguable returns on those investments. They covered:

  • Common barriers to users making data-informed decisions, particularly non-traditional data roles
  • Frameworks for building self-sustaining solutions that can scale with your business
  • How BI leverage can support getting employees back to work, and deliver customers—or patients—a positive and safe consumer experience
  • Key initiatives across user groups and business units

The DICE Group’s initiatives were specifically designed for Jefferson Health to protect patients and providers from unnecessary virus exposure, equip the workforce with the life-saving skills and knowledge needed to fight COVID-19, keep the health system adequately staffed and supplied with critical resources through the pandemic, and otherwise provide support to physicians, patients, and staff.

Thanks to these initiatives, Jefferson Health has continually improved experiences through this crisis, met the evolving needs of patients and staff, and positioned the organization as a leader in the battle against COVID-19.

Additionally, the initiative framework and related solutions can serve as a guide for how BI leverage can assist in the journey to get back to work. The initiatives included:

  • Corporate – efforts such as the expansion of remote meeting solutions and digital signature technology
  • Academic – deployment of Learning Management Systems and content development platforms
  • Clinical – rollout of contactless visits and Enterprise Staffing Allocation Solution
  • Innovative – development of a contact tracing application, and chatbot triaging and appointment rescheduling for patient management
  • Philanthropic – rapid implementation of “Better Together” fund collection, application, review, and distribution solution built on ServiceNow and Domo

While the DICE Group was equipped prior to the COVID-19 pandemic with the platforms and expertise for rapid rollout of data solutions across the organization, the expansion did not come without its own growing pains.

Through Neil and David’s discussion, we learned that succeeding in these endeavors meant democratizing data insights and empowering data-informed decision making. To enact this in your own business is no casual exercise. Key hurdles you will need to overcome include:

  • Ensuring data quality and elegantly managing data silos
  • Governance and regulatory concerns, including HIPPA and GDPR
  • Data preparation across transformation, pipelines, and pre-processing
  • Timeliness of data refreshes, whether real-time or just-in-time

David also shared learnings from his research, “Faster Insights from Faster Data,” which is focused on achieving faster insights by addressing delays and bottlenecks using better practices and modern technologies. For example, when surveyed, some traditional data users say they are satisfied with legacy data solutions, but only a few of them say they are very satisfied.

But this is not the only room for improvement—or pressure to evolve the way organizations access insights. New types of users who have started directly interacting with data only recently—whether due to governance, on the part of regulators and auditors; or due to the new value of data in the marketplace, on the part of external business partners, outside clients, and third-party developers—are requiring tools and guidance to enable self-serve BI solutions.

While many companies exist to provide products that can assist in overcoming these barriers, this isn’t just about the raw power of the technology. It needs to be intuitive to these new types of data users.

“The reason I chose Domo was [that] it was aesthetically so pleasing,” Neil said. “I thought, ‘Here is a company paying as much attention to the design of their platform as a company like Apple or Tesla. If they showed that, they would also pay a lot of attention to the product itself and what it can do.’ So, we took the leap of faith and decided to invest in the platform, and it’s worked out really well for us.”

David’s research further details why, in our current world of rapid, dynamic change, BI leverage needs to be democratized to enable organizational success.

“If you’re not delivering things in the context the subject matter experts, business users, or consumers need, they’re going to have to take a lot of extra steps, and they’re going to be frustrated, they won’t be satisfied,” David said. “It is important to make sure you provide the reports and dashboards and the analytics in the context of the decisions that the users try and make autonomously.”

In other words, it requires a partnership between the tools and the people who are dedicated to using them to improve the lives of customers, employees, and—for The DICE Group at Jefferson Health—even patients.

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