8.3 Using data for decision making
Data is a collection of facts and statistics normally based on qualitative or quantitative research and information. We think of data in the first instance as ‘raw data; information that has been collated digitally, from information stored across via digital systems, but it can also include information that has been gathered and captured from talking to others, and reports.
Using data allows you to consider how you can improve your outputs, and plan for change. This is especially important in HEIs, where student outcomes and experiences are critical. The whole student journey and how a HEI operates to support this should be based on evidence from data.
Such data can be broken down into:
- Internal data – which provides insights into your operations, finances, performance management, productivity and infrastructure. It allows for gap analysis and understand the needs of your workforce.
- External data – which often helps with analysing trends and benchmarking within your external environment.
- Marketing data – which is used to understand customers’ behaviours and preferences, to assist for HEI student enrolment and retention.
It is important to be clear on your data requirements, so that you are gathering meaningful information that can be trusted. Too often data sets are generated with no clear purpose or understanding of how they are to be used, or what insight could be gained from the data.
Data used well can help:
- make better and more effective decisions
- enable your organisation to be more proactive, and able to adapt to change more effectively
- ensure that your financial management is robust
- allow you to track your organisational performance and benchmark against others.
It can also help improve:
- operational efficiency
- new business models
- managing risk.
Activity 26: What data skills and capabilities are required?
Users of data can be considered as data producers and data consumers, who will require different data literacy skills for the ability to manipulate and understand data to make decisions.
Watch the video below in which contributors explain how data is used within organisations and the data literacy skills that are required.
Then read the article Data Literacy And Data Storytelling: How Do They Fit Together? [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]
Identify the critical data skills that organisations need to focus on, and list these below.
Data only becomes meaningful if it can be interpreted and tells a story. The image below clearly tells a story.
Data storytelling is a concept that is used to provide a simple narrative for complex information, which can help individuals and organisations engage with and understand the data available.
Activity 27: Tell a data story
Read the article A Deeper Dive into LEGO Bricks and Data Stories, then watch the video in which Laura Dewis – Chief Operating Officer, Full Fact – describes how data storytelling can make data more engaging to its consumers.
Think of data you have available, and how you could use data story-telling to present the information from the data to others.