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Take the Data and be Transformational

Ever wonder if technology really does make our life easier? Is all of the data we collect really worth the time and energy? Sometimes we feel so overwhelmed with the minute details and intricacies of technological data collection that we fail to see the big picture.

According to B. J. Walker, Director at Deloitte Consulting, it is worth the effort! She sat down with Christopher Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER to discuss Deloitte’s recent report titled Rethinking Human Services Delivery: Using Data-Driven Insights for Transformational Outcomes

The report delves into how the key to success in customer service depends on the ability to take the human services provided by an agency and alter them from a business transaction model to a more focused transformational one. The report states that “A program-centric view often misses important information about the actual lives of individuals and families, and can prevent them from getting the support they need to improve the trajectory of their lives.”

Walker explained the need for knowledge is satisfied through the use of real-time data. Previously, it was more difficult to know where to make improvements or how to better services. But now we have “new technologies and tools that allow us to crack open the can of data collection and big data systems all state governments have and pull that data out to understand how well you are doing,” Walker continued. The data, therefore, provides some spectrum of “hindsight and foresight.”

In other words, we should embrace the many changes that come along with the stresses of re-learning new systems and processes in the digital era. Walker highlighted that in the past “the analytics window was a hindsight window whereas today we can really look at what’s going on in real-time and make a change tomorrow….That makes a difference in what you can expect from your frontline and how effective you are overall.”  With real-time data comes real-time leadership.

As a leader there has to be clear expectations among one’s staff and data is the ideal avenue to enforce this. On the front-end, leaders must hold their employees accountable. Since leaders can now receive feedback through data, they can set clear expectations, Walker said, and leaders can implement necessary changes if performance isn’t where it should be.

On the flip side, “the frontline wants leadership,” Walker said. “They want people to tell them what to know and what needs to be done.” She shared an experience in a leadership role using data as former Commissioner for the State of Georgia at the Department of Human Services: “as soon as you start giving data to the frontline I can’t tell you how revolutionary it is. It creates a demand for them to know what’s going on.”

The ability to collect and receive real-time, fast data results helped her employees then think and plan long-term. They desired to see the data as soon as possible to set-up for the next week in order to properly meet the needs of the agency as well as their constituents.

As if better leader-employee relations weren’t reason enough, these digital data collection systems also help in the savings department.

Walker pointed out that what “used to take droves of caseworkers working one-on-one with people are now being done through automation…[a] significant savings on the front-end of their business.” As a result, “It allows them to deploy caseworkers as resources to the back-end where people have tremendous needs.”

“Instead of operating in an environment in government where you’re so focused on transactions – did I give the right amount of money and how many people came through the door? – now, you can redeploy your resources, techniques, tools, strategies, and data analytics to be transformational,” Walker said.

So go out and embrace technology. Embrace data! You too could be transformational today!

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