Data intelligence is a key focus area in the Innovation Strategy, we use advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to discover patterns and insights that allow our business to make better and smarter decisions. And when the opportunity to host an intimate, roundtable discussion on data and advanced analytics with the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC) arose – we couldn’t resist.

Joanna Marsh, General Manager, Innovation and Advanced Analytics recently joined Ashwin Sinha, Executive Director and Chief Data Officer, Macquarie Bank and Rhod McKensey, Chief Executive Officer, Honeysuckle Health in a candid conversation about how data intelligence is fast becoming the centrepiece of enterprise strategy, focus and investment.

The panel unpacked...

How their organisations are using data and advanced analytics to drive change
In the healthcare sector, Rhod McKensey, Honeysuckle Health describes their use of big data as a pathway to better health
  • Recognising, identifying and measuring ‘value against cost’ – as a patient, what’s the price on recovering from an illness or condition? And that of maintaining health?
  • Data also plays a huge role in understanding the value of interventions and who would most benefit from these interventions. This informs the industry and investors which ultimately impacts effectiveness and availability of such interventions.
For Joanna Marsh, Investa, the property industry is at an exciting ‘eyes wide open’ moment with data and advanced analytics, it’s becoming evident just how powerful data intelligence is and how we can use it effectively.
  • Big data is key across the entire value chain – from hunting down the right asset to buy, to developing assets that thrive, to leasing workplaces of the future and operating these assets at an optimal level.
  • A great example of this is the digital twin project. Sixty Martin Place is equipped with over 22,000 sensors that collect a huge amount of data that allows Investa to compare and benchmark management performance across different assets; and track and manage energy consumption across their portfolio with greater accuracy.
And for finance, where big data is well established, Ashwin Sinha, Macquarie Bank describes a shift in focus areas.
  • Data and analytics are vital in driving, measuring and improving customer and employee experience as well as risk management and continuous improvement of product offerings.
And, on a scale of 1 – 10, how advanced is their use of data and analytics?
Joanna is confident that the property industry has made good headway in both building models and extracting value from data.

Though there are areas within organisations where usage lags, Ashwin describes a similar situation in the banking and finance industry.

Rhod explains a different landscape in the healthcare space. Healthcare is relatively advanced in data analytics but the challenge lies in data sources – some data sits with healthcare professionals, or the local chemist, or the pathologist, the list goes on.

The challenge is to build trust with customers and providers and encourage data sharing. This enables a more holistic view of a patient’s health in order to provide better services.

Where are the greatest opportunities in data, is it in descriptive, diagnostic, predictive or prescriptive analytics?
Rhod sees the greatest opportunities in descriptive and prescriptive analytics. Both will have the greatest impact in better understanding and describing a patient’s healthcare journey along with what interventions are needed.

For banking and finance, Ashwin identifies diagnostic and predictive analytics as areas for growth. These will help the bank understand on a deeper level why issues are occurring and how to fix them at the root cause.

In property, decision intelligence is key so descriptive analytics is where opportunity lies. It’s very much an ecosystem, when one thing changes, everything changes so there is a lot of time spent using simulations to help organisations make informed decisions.

Regarding the competitive advantage, if you don’t swim – will you sink?
Joanne describes a baseline in the property sector, being “fighting fit”. The role of data and analytics is to free humans to do more of what they are best at – cutting deals, doing the creative work, running the business, adding value to our stakeholders. The competitive advantage is augmented intelligence.

For Rhod, having a good grasp of data and advanced analytics is a competitive advantage. It comes from integrating machine learning and artificial intelligence alongside the healthcare industry. And in banking and finance, Ashwin believes data and analytics is the key area to invest in to gain a competitive advantage. Hot on its heels are digital and cyber risk. In larger organisations, a challenge is ensuring data is easily accessible.

What are the pitfalls to watch out for and avoid?
Ashwin raises a key point, data is often considered a technology issue when in fact, it is more of a commercial and change management issue.
  • Using an eye-opening analogy of comparing the issue to a glass of water. Sure, the glass needs to be well-made and fit for purpose, but focusing on the glass won’t make any changes to the quality of the water inside. Fundamentally, the focus needs to be on the water.
  • Change needs to be managed in the areas where people use the data, how they act on it, how they make changes to the processes of collecting and interpreting data, how they capture and store it and finally, how they measure data and what results they are getting out of the analytics or data investment.
  • Another common pitfall is viewing data transformation as a separate initiative to the rest of the business – if change is to occur at an enterprise leave, it’s important to align data transformation to your business strategy.
Rhod reinforces this, he explains that machine learning and data science tools are relatively cheap and accessible making it easy to start (without any major tech investments).
  • Another pitfall in Rhod’s experience is not having a senior sponsor within the business. This person needs to have a basic understanding of data and analytics but also someone who has the authority to make decisions on budget and risk.
  • He also sees a lack of clarity failing organisations, data can provide insights or make predictions – in the healthcare industry, there’s no point in developing a model that helps you predict who will have a heart attack. The goal is to use the data to create some type of intervention that will differentiate between the people who are at substantial risk.
For Joanna in the property sector, without action after insight – the return on investment just disappears. The action is what demands our focus.
  • Another opportunity (instead of pitfall) is how to make handling data as safe as possible. Data isn’t going to spell out the answers for you, think of it as Play-Doh. It’s your job to mould and shape.
  • Investa’s Innovation Institute teaches data literacy in a similar manner – reinforcing that it’s ok to play with data, testing it and reiterating. It’s all about instilling and encouraging safety and flexibility – you can’t break it.
And challenges, what are the greatest challenges – what keeps you up at night?
Ever the optimist, Joanna believes in focusing on the upside, data and advanced analytics can be addictive so it’s not about being kept up at night. It’s more about learning to shut down for the night.

For Ashwin, talent is a big challenge – it's a highly competitive, global market out there and the more specific requirements a job has, the smaller the talent pool.

Rhod believes there is a huge opportunity in Australia to improve the healthcare system – less patients slipping through the cracks, more access to best practice care and a focus on sustainability. The challenge is building trust. How to reiterate to patients and providers the importance and positive impact of sharing their data more broadly. It was great to hear across different industries the similarities and the differences each face in the data and advanced analytics space.

A key takeaway being how easy and simple data and advanced analytics can be, starting small, starting with little to no budget can still achieve results - you just need that entrepreneurial spirit!

A huge thank you to the panellists for the insightful conversation, to Sally Patten for moderating and the AICC for the opportunity to collaborate.