London 2016: Transforming data use in infrastructure organizations

  • June 6, 2016
On June 6, twenty of the UK’s infrastructure leaders from across the value chain gathered for the annual GII London Roundtable.

In a spirited discussion, participants explored how embed a culture of data analytics to improve infrastructure performance and productivity.

Context: Many infrastructure owners and investors appreciate that there is a better way to use available data to deliver better outcomes. Whether building or operating infrastructure assets, managers are too dependent on experience and instinct—greater data transparency would help and enable better stakeholder management. Why do these organizations find it so hard to transform their approach to data and digital opportunities? What can we learn from the attempts made in this and other sectors to get this right?

Some of the key themes included:

  1. The power of good data. Used correctly, data enables informed decision-making and real-time adaptation to competitive and operational challenges. The application of good data can create the conditions to win or lose, whether it be in sport, business or operating world-class infrastructure.
  2. Be clear about the problem that you are trying to solve with data. Many organizations start collecting and analyzing data without having clarity on the questions that they want the data to solve. Such an approach can be a costly investment and provide little value to the organization.
  3. Barriers to success: Leadership, culture and talent. Leadership must embed a culture of analytics into the organization, motivating employees to use data to improve performance and productivity. Sourcing the right talent and providing adequate training to ensure that the right questions are being asked is essential to success.
  4. Using metrics to incentivize behavior. Identifying performance metrics with real-time feedback loops can enable a process of continuous improvement, incentivizing employees to learn on the job. Transparency of the objectives, data and metrics is important to getting this right.
  5. Own your data. Outsourcing the analytics is often not an effective strategy because the provider may not have the industry knowledge or incentives to ask the right questions and interpret the analysis. When operating in a bigger system, it is important to share data with other players in the system. However, this will only work if one aligns incentives between the respective organizations.