We live in a world obsessed with data and thanks to the internet, we can track, monitor and report on just about everything. The more the data the better, and Big Data is now Big Business. The danger is that data gets misunderstood, becomes overwhelming then detrimental to your business. Information overload is very real and can have a paralysing effect. Faced with almost infinite data, the choices and decisions can become infinite themselves. Getting your hands on good quality data starts, funnily enough, at the beginning, but also at the end.
Step 1 Exploit your Assets Big Data: acknowledge need for data
Let’s assume you are a housing stock portfolio & asset manager. You have a task list as long as your arm, targets and KPIs to keep you focussed, a finite budget and still only 24 hours in a day. So, how will you hit those targets with the resources at your disposal? Data would be great, wouldn’t it? It could help you focus your efforts and optimise your budget. This is an excellent starting point – just understanding the need for accurate data itself means you are serious about the challenge. The next step is to decide upon what it is you want to measure.
Step 2 Exploit your Assets Big Data: agree why you need the data
Now you have decided “wouldn’t it be great if ...”, it’s important you review and agree “why”. Why gather all this data? To start a successful data management programme you sometimes have to start at the end: what is your overall objective? what do you want to achieve?
Let's continue the example of a housing stock portfolio manager. If you have a stock of 1,000 houses and 10% of them are not meeting the government's energy standard, you will most likely want to identify those homes and tenants in most need of help and support. In parallel to that objective you will most likely want to know if there is a sub set of those homes with tenants in fuel poverty, which of that sub-set are eligible for grant funding, and for what? Walls? Roofs? Boilers? Loft insulation? Once you have that data, you might also want to cross reference those homes with your maintenance budget and see if the items you wish to implement tie in with any scheduled maintenance programmes that may exist, but be beyond your remit.
The same applies for an asset and facilities management companies. Brexit and the fall of the pound sterling created opportunities for assets transactions. New owners, attracted by a lower price, will want to know how their new buildings are performing, how to decrease energy consumption, how to improve the fabric of the buildings to make get a decent ROI. Prospective owners may want to know how the buildings they are planning to buy are performing so as to drive the price down or to make sure they are getting a good deal.
Today’s climate and variables at play in the energy sector mean understanding your data and optimising your budget are no longer luxuries – they are essential.
Step 3 Exploit your Assets Big Data: decide data collection
The next thing is to decide what data you are going to collect, who will be collecting it, what you will do with it and how you will store and maintain it.
It is all very good to collect all this data, but there are maintenance decisions attached to it. Do you know what you want to do with it once you have it? Have you agreed a format for keeping it up to date, for ensuring the accuracy of what you have? Let’s assume yes! Assumptions are dangerous, but let’s move our scenario along.
How will you collate the data? Who do you trust do it? What’s the most economical way to get info on your 1,000 homes or the buildings you manage? Building surveying is one of the options.
Do you currently employ an ICT manager who can help you integrate, cleanse and augment what you already hold? After all, you may already have most of what you need.
Businesses grow organically or through merger and acquisition. Many great asset management companies and Housing Associations have grown this way. That can mean several things. On the positive side, with everybody on board, change may be embraced quickly and the best of both parties taken for the benefit of the newly formed organisation. On the negative side, organic growth can be slow and poor practices are likely to be ingrained culturally. Rapid, funded, growth can mean growth at all costs with poor systems and processes, leading to a mash-up of two or more systems vying for attention. This is in turn will create conflicts both in terms of the data itself and the team tasked with managing the stock.
Exploiting and understanding your assets big data is imperative if you are to make good quality decisions on their future improvement.
Set out what you need to know, what you would like to know and what you do actually know.
Once you have established these points , it will make asset management easier.
Step 4 Exploit your Assets Big Data: decide about exploitation
We are very fortunate in 2016 that software exists to help. Technology is evolving rapidly, both how it is designed and how we consume it.
Still today, many RSLs, ALMOs, RLs, HAs and LAs are perfectly happy to manage their stock using Microsoft’s Excel via a series of linked - or not - spreadsheets. Often these are ill-suited to the task. Others have designed and implemented extremely expensive software solutions, bespoke to their needs.
In life, there will always be extremes. Manage you stock for free on Excel or pay vast fees for a bespoke solution being a case in point. Extremes can be extremely cheap / expensive, extremely good / bad and the output can vary just as wildly.
The same exists when it comes to data.
Too much and you are paralysed into inaction.
Not enough and you have no choice but not to act – how can you? You don’t know enough.
Neither solution helps improve your assets, get people out of fuel poverty, save money or reduce the carbon footprint of your organisation or your clients'.
There is however a middle ground, a solution which is right to exploit your data meaningfully. Our approach to data with our clients is much like starting a journey. We establish where you are today, where you want to go then use our software and algorithms to help you work out the shortest route to that destination – much like your sat nav.
The process begins with understanding what records you currently hold on your portfolio. We take that data, knowing there will be blank fields - no-one has perfect data by the way, you are not alone! - augment it with rational, intelligent assumptions – essentially backfilling the holes - and run the new dataset against the latest iteration of SAP.
Step 5 to exploit your Assets Big Data: take action
The next bit is the most important. What do you do with the data? Can you interact with easily? Knowing you have a problem and being able to locate it, only the start of the solution.
Much like an appointment with the doctor, they can only recommend you take the prescribed medicine, actually taking the next step is harder and invariably costs more. But go to your Board armed with accurate data, in an understandable format, able to demonstrate a robust, impartial decision making process, you will secure the funding and consent you need to make those improvements and meet those targets.
In summary, data can be both good and bad, but one thing is for certain – bad data definitely leads to bad decisions. No data equals no decisions. Only good data can enable meaningful progress.
Would you like to discuss your Assets Big Data challenges with us? We will give you impartial advice and help you hit your targets with your finite resources. Contact us today by clicking on the button below.