Tagged: analytics

The Growing Importance of Data in Academic Libraries

Guest post by Andrew Cox, co-author of the forthcoming book, Exploring Research Data Management

In a globalising world the future is complicated. It is not simply a matter of new trends impacting library work in clearly defined ways. Rather change seems to be impacting our work in complex ways. In a recent report on the future of academic libraries (Pinfield, Cox and Rutter, 2017) we sought to address this complexity by proposing that we think in terms of nexuses of change. Two major ones we identified were:

  • “The dataification of research” -combining trends such as open access, open science, text and data mining, artificial intelligence and machine learning, the internet of things, digital humanities and academic social networking services, and
  • “Connected learning” -incorporating changing pedagogies, learning analytics, students as customers, social media, mobile computing, maker spaces and blurring of space uses.

A story that seems to be threaded through these changes is the growing importance of data.

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Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

Research data management

Thus one aspect of change in research practice is the way that the valued outputs of research are increasingly not confined to written outputs, but also seen to lie in the underlying research data. If made discoverable and useable these data can be the foundation for new research. Research Data Management is the emergent set of professional practices that supports this emphasis. Librarians have had a big part in how this story has unfolded.

Text Data Mining

Another data related change in research is the way that texts in the library are increasingly to be seen as data for Text and Data Mining (TDM). When there are literally hundreds of thousands of research papers on a topic, a manually conducted “comprehensive literature review” becomes an impossibility. Rather we will need the help of text mining algorithms that seek out patterns in the corpus of texts. It is libraries that are seeking to create the legal and technical infrastructure in which TDM can be carried out.

Learner Analytics

Learning is also undergoing a data revolution. Usage behaviour as library or learning analytics is another key area of development. If we can connect the data we have about user visits to the library, book issues and resource downloads, activities in the virtual learning environment and in the classroom, we can produce a better understanding of learner behaviour to help customise services. Librarians could be at the forefront of mining this data to improve services.

Data: structured or unstructured?

Granted, this storm of interest in “data”, may disguise different usages of the term. Research data could be qualitative data, though they are perhaps most valuable and vulnerable when derived from data intensive science. TDM is concerned with text as unstructured data. Library and Learning analytics are based primarily on structured, log file data.

The ethical issues

At the same time our sensitivity to the ethical issues around data is rising. How can users be given appropriate control over their own data? What restrictions need to be placed on commercial companies’ use of data about our online behaviour? Can libraries themselves retain users’ trust while exploiting the benefits of learning data analysis for service improvement? There are also massive challenges around data preservation in all these contexts. The professional knowledge of librarians and archivists need to be translated to meet the challenges of data curation. Data literacy, as an aspect of information literacy, will also need to be part of librarians’ training offer.

All these trends suggest that our skills in managing, interpreting and visualising, and curating data, in ethical and legally safe ways, will be at the heart of our profession’s work in the next decades. One of our future stories is as a data profession.

 

Andrew Cox is a senior lecturer at the Information School, University of Sheffield and led the RDMRose Project. His research interests include virtual community, social media and library responses to technology. He coordinates Sheffield’s MSc in Digital Library Management.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter @iSchoolAndrew

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Exploring Research Data Management is an accessible introduction to RDM with engaging tasks for the reader to follow and build their knowledge. It will be useful reading for all students studying librarianship and information management, and librarians who are interested in learning more about RDM and developing Research Data Services in their own institution.

Find out more about the forthcoming book here

 

References

Pinfield, S., Cox, A.M., Rutter, S. (2017). Mapping the future of academic libraries: A report for SCONUL. https://sconul.ac.uk/publication/mapping-the-future-of-academic-libraries

 

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Delivering a Data Strategy in the Cauldron of Business As Usual

Guest post by the co-authors of The Chief Data Officer’s Playbook, Caroline Carruthers (Group Director of Data Management, Lowell Group) and Peter Jackson (Chief Data Officer, Southern Water).

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Being a Chief Data Officer in the current climate is a rather interesting place to be, it can feel a little like dancing on quicksand while you have to learn to juggle wriggling snakes. So in order to help people interested in this area, whether you are a new CDO, well established data hero or just wondering what all the fuss is about, we have worked on a set of articles to answer some of the questions we are asked at nearly every conference we go to. While we can’t promise you a solution to all your data related problems handed to you on a plate, we can promise that once a week you can look forward to another concise, interesting and easy to read article to help you on your data and information related journey.

One of the most difficult tasks for the new CDO is developing a Data Strategy whilst the organisation continues to operate (and must continue to operate) using and abusing data, continuing with bad habits around data and often with a lack of governance and planning. This has been likened to performing open heart surgery on a runner while they are in the middle of a marathon, in reality it’s more like patching them up, giving them water to keep them going and a clear map to get them to the end of the race. In most situations for a new CDO the organisation probably feels that it has been operating quite happily without this new person for a very long while. So, for the new CDO it may feel like they are sitting in the corner talking to themselves. Alternatively the CDO may be met with comments like ‘Yes, we tried that before and it didn’t work’ or ‘ IT/ Finance/ Procurement/ Marketing (delete as appropriate) won’t like you doing that’ or my personal favourite ‘that’s not how we do that here’.

What is the context of Business As Usual? In most cases (unless the organisation is a start-up) it will be:

  • a legacy data environment: siloes of data, multiple records, ‘duplicates’, weak data governance, no useful meta data, heavy MI and no BI.
  • legacy systems: burning platforms, bespoke developments, hard to maintain and manage, reporting systems remote from end-users, no true data management systems
  • legacy business processes: evolved over time, limited by technology and data available at the point in time, containing many work-arounds
  • multiple suppliers: of software and systems
  • legacy IT department: focused on building stuff rather than delivering and supporting software-as-a-service, internal networks as opposed to cloud
  • legacy ‘transformation’ process: based on project governance and waterfall, struggling with agile and innovation. Not able to adapt to transformation being data driven rather than technology driven

The task for the new CDO is how to steer their way through this bubbling cauldron and deliver a data strategy. One approach is to break the task down into two parts: an Immediate Data Strategy (IDS), a tactical approach to deliver support for BAU, gain quick wins and temporary fixes and to prepare the way for the second part. The additional benefit of the IDS is the delivery of incremental value to the organisation through its data, avoiding the hypecycle on the way (the next article deals with this in more detail). The second part is the Target Data Strategy (TDS), the strategic approach. The new CDO cannot sit back and deliver the TDS over a two to three year window, the organisation will probably be expecting some results now, so it is just as important to set realistic expectations as it is to provide some tactical delivery through the IDS. One piece of advice, don’t call these tactical deliveries ‘Projects’ instead refer to them as ‘Initiatives’, this might engender a more agile approach.

The IDS should listen to the organisation’s data pain and try to deliver high profile quick wins. The tactical initiatives of the IDS should blend into the strategy of the TDS, and not run down a rabbit hole or blind alley. The IDS should help build up the narrative and vision of the TDS.

The six key elements of the IDS could be:

  1. Stability and rationalisation of the existing data environment
  2. Data culture and governance
  3. Existing and immediate data and IT development projects
  4. Data exploitation and integration
  5. Data performance, quality, integrity, assurance and provenance
  6. Data security (especially with GDPR in mind).

Whilst the new CDO is delivering the IDS they should be pushing the TDS through business engagement, the organisation needs to be prepared, ready and believe in the changes that are coming. The CDO should also be using the IDS to show the ‘art of the possible’ to a data illiterate business to help the business engage with the new data possibilities. Through the IDS they should be running Proof of Concepts, feasibility studies, data science initiatives and building a narrative around the vision of the TDS for all levels of the business.

Finally, six tips on how to succeed using the IDS and TDS approach:

  1. Use internal communications to sell the vision, don’t allow a vacuum to form
  2. Seek every opportunity to communicate the vision. Do not be frightened of becoming a data bore.
  3. Socialise the data visons and the changes that could be coming, especially the controversial ideas, locate the data champions to support you
  4. Engage the organisation’s leadership and find your senior sponsors, they will be crucial
  5. If you can’t explain it, you’re doing something wrong, ‘it’s me not you’
  6. Win hearts and minds, often a good argument is not enough to win the day.

The book is available to purchase now

Playbook

Why does any organisation need a Chief Data Officer?

Facet Publishing are pleased to announce the release of The Chief Data Officer’s Playbook by Caroline Carruthers, Group Director for Data Management, The Lowell Group and Peter Jackson, Chief Data Officer, Southern Water.

Playbook

Most organisations now accept that data is a fundamental asset but the rapidly evolving role of Chief Data Officer (CDO) is still a mystery to many. Caroline Carruthers and Peter Jackson, two practicing CDOs, unlock these mysteries for the first time in The Chief Data Officers Playbook.

The book is a jargon-free guide for CDOs looking to understand their position better and for aspiring CDOs looking to take the next step in their career. It will also be valuable for chief executives, directors and business leaders needing to understand the value that a CDO can bring to an organisation, what they do, how to recruit one, where they should sit in the organisation and who they should report to.

The authors said,

“Data is a fast-moving and evolving environment and we get the sense that the pace of change is getting faster every month, perhaps every week. Our book is packed with strategies, tools and results of our real-life experiences which can help you leapfrog some of the mistakes we have made and learn from where it went well for us”.

The book begins by explaining why organisations need a CDO before moving on to cover key topics including, what you should do in your first 100 days as a CDO, building your team, how to break the data hoarding mentality, data and information ethics, delivering a data strategy in the context of business as usual, and how to recruit a CDO.

David Mathison, Chairman, CEO and Founder of the CDO Club, said,

“The release of this book is perfectly timed. The CDO Club tracks CDO hires globally, and last year alone the number of new CDO hires quintupled. The Chief Data Officer’s Playbookis a compendium of essential knowledge anyone operating in the current data environment must have”.

The book is available from Amazon and the eBook is available from eBooks.com

Follow the book on LinkedIn for updates and additional content

Browse a free sample chapter on the Facet Publishing website (click on the book’s cover)

Read an in-depth review of the book by Matt Corey, MD of Change Force here

The Secret Ingredients of the Successful CDO

Guest blog by the co-authors of The Chief Data Officer’s Playbook, Caroline Carruthers (Group Director of Data Management, Lowell Group) and Peter Jackson (Head of Data, Southern Water).

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Compared to most of the C-Suite colleagues the CDO is faced with a set of unique problems. There are similarities, the CDO is a subject specialist, and in that respect is similar to the Chief Finance Officer, Chief Investment Officer or Chief Risk Officer. The CDO also operates across the organisation so has similarities to the Chief Operating Officer or Chief Accounting Officer. However, the CDO does have a unique set of challenges. More than anything, the role is still being defined and in the absence of certainty the assumption that the role will solve all the problems the organisation is facing. The Chief Data Officer in many organisations is a new role (the number of people in CDO roles doubled from 2013 to 2014, and probably doubled again in 2015 – Karl Greenberg, MediaPost2015), whilst the other C-Suites executives have roles and responsibilities which the organisation recognise and understand.

The Chief Data Officer is bringing a new dimension and focus to the organisation, ‘data’. All organisations will have used and depended on data for a long time, but the arrival of the CDO will be the signal that the business intends to be data driven, that data will have a new importance in the business, and that it will be pivotal to the future of the business. Most organisations will be demonstrating poor practices and bad habits in their collection, use, storage and command of data. So, the CDO will be bringing a new culture and regime and any change brings with it a level of fear.

To achieve this difficult task of changing culture across an organisation, and changing the way individuals and the business use and view their data, the CDO needs some unique qualities.

The CDO has to be a skilled communicator, able to speak to all levels of the business from the board to office floor. The real ability in the communication is two-fold: first, the ability to translate quite complex ‘data’ concepts and technology into the appropriate language for every level and face of the business; and second the ability to use communication to win hearts and minds.

The CDO needs to be a master at relationship building, they will need the support of fellow C-Suite to deliver the data strategy vision. The CDO will rely on other parts of the business to deliver much of the data strategy; IT to deliver the technology, Customer Support to deliver improved data entry. At times the CDO will need to go toe-to-toe with colleagues, but the most effective results will be achieved through good relationships.

These good relationships will be built on credibility. The new CDO must be credible to the board, colleagues and the business. The business must trust and have confidence in the new CDO. The CDO will be leading big, new ideas, and therefore must be credible.

Much of the credibility is founded on specialist data knowledge. The new CDO must know ‘data’ and have a thorough understanding of data governance, data management, data quality, data science, advanced analytics, data strategy and data technology. Perhaps not the detail that the data team will bring, but enough to develop the data strategy and create the bridge between the specialists and the board.

The CDO must be the cheerleader for data and have a driving passion that convinces other people of the value of data and a good data strategy.

The new CDO must be able to shift gear between tactical delivery and strategic planning for two reasons: first to avoid the ‘Hypecycle’, more of that in another article, it is important that the CDO delivers incremental value to the business; and second because they will need to identify the quick wins and easy fixes in the current data environment to stabilise and rationalise the current data environment whilst the data strategy is being rolled out.

The CDO will also need a sprinkling of luck. They will be faced with unexpected situations, difficult people, organisational resistance, institutional muscle memory, the proportions of these will depend on their luck.

Finally, and this probably falls across all of the above qualities, is the ability to recruit good people.9781783302574

The Chief Data Officer’s Playbook will be published in November by Facet Publishing.

Sign up to our mailing list to hear more about new and forthcoming books. Plus, receive an introductory 30% off a book of your choice – just fill in your details below and we’ll be in touch to help you redeem this special discount:*

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So why does any organisation need a Chief Data Officer?

Guest blog by the co-authors of The Chief Data Officer’s Playbook, Caroline Carruthers (Group Director of Data Management, Lowell Group) and Peter Jackson (Head of Data, Southern Water).

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Being a Chief Data Officer in the current climate is a rather interesting place to be, it can feel a little like dancing on quicksand while you have to learn to juggle wriggling snakes. So in order to help people interested in this area, whether you are a new CDO, well established data hero or just wondering what all the fuss is about, we have worked on a set of articles to answer some of the questions we are asked at nearly every conference we go to. While we can’t promise you a solution to all your data related problems handed to you on a plate, we can promise that once a week you can look forward to another concise, interesting and easy to read article to help you on your data and information related journey.

So why does any organisation need a Chief Data Officer? If it’s at the right level it is a big investment and they aren’t going to just come on their own, a team of some sort, even sourced from positions within the organisation, will cause disruption and potentially add cost and the company got along just fine without one before, right?

Or did they? We now have access to more data than ever before and we have all become kleptomaniacs when it comes to fact and figures. It doesn’t cost us much to keep it so why not keep it all – just in case. Only having so much of it means that not only can we not see the wood for the trees, we don’t value the wood anymore. We have lost the focus on why we are collecting data, what are we hoping to get from it and what benefits can we derive from it? In essence what are we going to get from it and why do it in the first place?

This ties into the concept of the information value chain; how does the information you use link into the value chain for the organisation? What end result are you expecting and what do you need to get there? This isn’t just about using the five whys, don’t stop at five, start asking question and don’t stop. The focus has to be on delivery and benefit. If collecting the data doesn’t deliver benefit – stop doing it! Keep your limited resources focused on doing what gives you benefits. The CDO gives you this clarity and direction for your focus.

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All of this is before you stop and look at the small mistakes that are happening on a daily basis that, when you add them all up, are costing your company time and money that you don’t want to waste. To give you a simple example, if someone in your sales department enters the wrong company name in the billing name field on the CRM such as ACME Ltd rather than ACME (UK) Ltd so an invoice is raised on 90 day payment terms for the wrong company and you don’t find out until day 89. So because the sales team made a tiny error it has cost the company 90 days cash flow. Or how about reputational damage because you stake your reputation on flawed data that you were convinced was right?

There are no single, big easy reasons to convince you to hire your first CDO but there are a million small ones that are happening every day – those are the reasons to hire your CDO.

The Chief Data Officer’s Playbook will be published in November by Facet Publishing.

Sign up to our mailing list to hear more about new and forthcoming books. Plus, receive an introductory 30% off a book of your choice – just fill in your details below and we’ll be in touch to help you redeem this special discount:*

*Offer not available to customers from USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia-Pacific