Sharing data can improve productivity, revolutionise supply chains and increase market reach – and at the ODI, we can help with tools, advice and support. Stuart Coleman, the ODI’s Director of Business Development who will be moderating a panel session on data sharing for resilience at the CogX Festival next week, explains.
Lockdown, business and venue closures, social distancing and other measures put in place to help control the Covid-19 pandemic continue to have significant impacts on businesses, with most having to deal with challenges such as:
- supply-chain disruption, resources and asset utilisation
- maintaining staff wellbeing and productivity while remote working
- a lack of cashflow.
As we move towards more ‘social’ times, some of these pressures will of course ease but in the face of an impending recession these challenges won’t disappear – they will just evolve.
These challenges have pushed many businesses to change their strategic approaches, move faster, take risks and innovate, particularly in virtual areas, such as data and digital.
Efficiencies that might have taken years to set up have been put into place at speed, with necessity driving the process. Look at the leisure industry where many activity providers moved from offering physical activities to online ones. For example, Sport Birmingham collaborated with Playwaze through OpenActive to create a virtual finder that enabled local providers to reach a wider audience, while keeping their customers engaged.
This shows that, in adverse times, companies can innovate at speed. The resilience showcased by entire sectors to cope with the last turbulent months is an incredibly valuable asset for businesses and will ultimately be the driver for longer-term competitive advantage, if channelled effectively.
Encouraging and enabling better flows of data has the potential to help businesses recover faster and bounce back to a stronger position. As organisations are now trying to build resilience to support growth, innovation through the use of data can help achieve efficiencies.
Sharing data has the potential to revolutionise supply chains
Supply chains tend to be complex, as they require a high level of coordination in design, manufacturing and distribution from a variety of organisations. Sharing data – such as information about supply, demand, logistics and best practices – can help organisations achieve a wide range of efficiencies, such as:
- improved product design and distribution
- improved collaboration and trust among supply chain partners
- improved flexibility of operations
- improved cost management.
Our Airbus case study demonstrates how sharing data allowed it to streamline systems, with the time for design processes reduced from weeks to a matter of hours. And it has improved both the accuracy of product design and overall efficiency.
Sharing data can increase market reach
Any business that was not able to market, sell or promote its products digitally before the pandemic has been scrambling to catch up. Sharing data about products and services has the potential to help businesses grow their market reach even further. Our YouGov survey conducted in March with more than 2,000 leaders across a range of sectors showed that businesses are aware of the benefits of data sharing, with a third (33%) saying it improves market reach, or increases sales and marketing opportunities.
OpenActive – a community-led initiative to help people get active using open data, and stewarded by the ODI – leverages data sharing to help health and physical activity companies reach new audiences and improve market reach for gyms, health centres and swimming pools.
Can sharing data improve productivity in the workplace?
Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that UK productivity is in decline – can data sharing play a role in improving productivity?
As businesses look to return to the office, gathering data about employees may be necessary to manage increased complexity and uncertainty, and cope with a more flexible workplace environment. A report by Accenture found that while 50% of workers felt that using new sources of workforce data could damage trust, nine out of 10 workers were open to their employers collecting data in the workplace if it benefited them as individuals.
Employees may be more confident sharing data with employers if they can trust them to use it responsibly and ethically. And when sharing data is used to help improve employee wellbeing, this can also lead to increased productivity.
The ODI can help
The ODI has produced a free online resource: The Data Toolkit for Business to help businesses leverage the benefits of data sharing, such as supply-chain optimisation, better innovation and cost savings. It includes:
- the Data Skills Framework, which has been designed to support organisations in the development of data skills programmes
- the Data Ethics Canvas to help businesses use data ethically and responsibly
- the Data Ecosystem Mapping tool to help visualise data flows to and from your business.
Done right, data sharing can help your organisation build resilience, and we are here to help.