Data is The New Oil

Posted: 8th November 2018

The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data

This was the verdict of an article in The Economist[1] demonstrating the power of data. A century ago, a ‘new’ commodity spawned a highly lucrative, fast-growing industry, that probably impacted the world’s economy more than any other. This commodity was oil. Now similar statements are being made about data, which is the oil of the digital era. The data business titans: Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Microsoft and Facebook; have become the top five most valuable businesses in the world and look unstoppable. Amazon now captures half of all money spent online in America; and Google and Facebook accounted for almost all the revenue growth in digital advertising in America last year.

Largest companies in the world by market value (in billion US dollars)

Indeed, we can clearly see the organisations that are flourishing have one thing in common: expert use of data to drive their businesses forward.

Joseph Carr, Director of Finance Solutions at Altair, reinforces just how important access to accurate, secure data is to the social housing and care sectors in his recent article on Value for Money[2]. The Regulator mandated that English housing associations publish Value for Money (VfM) metrics, and more recently the social housing green paper[3] suggested HAs publish a consistent set of Key Performance Indicators; both of which require accurate data. These metrics are likely to form the basis of league tables, upon which access to grant may be predicated. The regulator is also reinforcing to board members that they are accountable for ensuring that the evidence they see in VfM reporting is accurate, timely and supports both compliance with the Regulator’s current VfM Standard and the probable new reporting requirements to customers on service delivery performance.

Swift access to accurate data is becoming fundamental to an organisation’s ability to perform efficiently. It empowers social landlords to make sound, data-led decisions, which underpin good governance, compliance, assurance and the ability to manage risk. Access to accurate data is essential to delivering services effectively online as well. It enables customers to self-serve, at a time and place that suits them, without the need for staff to intervene. This both improves the service provided and liberates staff from many routine tasks, thereby increasing efficiency.

Data quality evidently has a substantial impact on the success and security of a business, which illustrates the importance of a data health check at an early stage in a digitisation programme. If your organisation is already committed to providing services online, you will need to question if you would be happy for customers to see the data that you hold? A review can be carried out internally, however, in our experience the results are often impacted by a level of false assurance, with those accountable for data quality not fully aware or comfortable enough to highlight the issues they have. An external data health check is relatively inexpensive and will assess:

  • Data governance;
  • Data sources, flows and lifecycles;
  • Accountability and monitoring; and
  • Compliance and the ability for data to support strategic thinking.

It provides a foundation upon which a data and online services strategy can be built. The demand for these health checks has grown rapidly in the last 12 months and with the increasing pressure on social landlords to demonstrate they are running their organisations effectively, this is expected to continue.

Unless a thorough review of data control and management has already been carried out, the question is not if a data health check is necessary, it’s simply when.

For more information please contact:
Colin Sales for data support: or 07810 543008
Mark Sweeny for governance support: or 07887 5121645
Graham Hishmurgh for service improvement: or 07940 569 395





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