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Meera Naik, head of data transformation, Barnardo's

Meera Naik, head of data transformation, Barnardo's

How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?

 

Barnardo’s core aim is to achieve better outcomes for more children. As part of our digital strategy, we are looking to become a data-first organisation and use the wealth of data we have to support data-enabled systems change and operational excellence. By co-ordinating our analytical capacity to deliver high quality, impactful insight and establishing solid foundations around architecture and engineering, we can use the data and information we have to inform decision making, performance and strategy so that we can support vulnerable children and young people in achieving better outcomes.

 

2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?

 

Covid-19 changed the world in 2020 and has been deeply traumatic for today’s young people and inevitably the vulnerable will suffer the most. Alongside this, Barnardo’s, like many other charities, is facing serious financial challenges and has taken a significant financial hit. Our services have never been so critical and therefore we know we have to adapt and change to meet these challenges but also emerge in the strongest position to continue to support vulnerable children, young people and families.

 

What this meant in practice when Covid-19 hit, was that we had to pause some projects and focus only on critical services. Our shops had to close when different restrictions were put in place and fundraising campaigns were also affected. In addition, staff were put on furlough which affected individuals and teams in all different parts of the organisation. The organisation had to adapt to new ways of working and there was a huge amount of work undertaken to support technology needs. From a service perspective, we increased our digital offerings and also mobilised new types of services, including specific Covid-19 services to help children and young people deal with the pandemic.

 

Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?

 

By building a holistic, global view of our service users and our services, we can enable a single, accurate view of a service user’s journey to measure and quantify the long-term impact of all interactions. This will enable us to understand what is effective and to be part of the national dialogue on childhood vulnerability and build and facilitate external partnerships.

 

We know from an organisation level, our expectations are to enable a panoramic and granular view of corporate performance in real-time. That data will provide leadership across the organsiation with barrierless, self-service, access to critical information and help build resiliency by proactively identifying challenges and opportunities.

 

Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?

 

For 2021, the aim is to ensure we have access to the right data so that we can build on our insight on childhood vulnerability and continue to be part of the national dialogue.

 

What has been your path to power?

 

My career in data started at Comic Relief, where I analysed our multi-million pound fundraising campaigns helping to identify trends and opportunities. I also worked on our data flows, looking to see where we could improve data quality and efficiency. I managed the creation of a single supporter view, before working on the strategic direction of our data. I also got to work in LA and New York, undertaking live analysis on the Red Nose Day USA campaigns.

 

At Barnardo’s, I have worked on the opportunities and ethical considerations around external data sharing and predictive analytics, as well as GDPR and NHS compliance around data protection. The main focus is on the foundations of our data infrastructure, our analytical capability and a move to new systems to collect, store and use our data in more efficient and effective ways.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

 

In 2020, I oversaw and co-ordinated the technology response to a national Covid-19 specific service. I brought a team together from different departments and with this amazing team we set up a new way to capture the data, accommodating user needs. This led us to being able to share and analyse data in a way that the organisation had not been able to do before.

 

The real-time insight has meant effective resource management, and real-time change management around our offer. In addition, it meant we could do trend analysis and targeting, identify areas which were in need and action this, which has led to shared collaborative learning and future market growth. As part of this, I also initiated a data sharing project with anonymised data with the Open Data Institute, which was part of the research they unveiled at their annual summit.

 

Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?

 

One of my goals is to continue to focus on data ethics and ensure we have the framework and principles in place to ensure ethical use of data. As an organisation, we are also on a journey to become trauma-informed and trauma-responsive, and I would like to see how data can be a part of this conversation.

 

How closely aligned to the business are data and analytics both within your own organisation and at an industry level? What helps to bring the two closer together?

 

Covid-19 has put more emphasis on data as decisions have required multidisciplinary engagement with corporate information. Data and insight now sit within Integrated Business Services and it is this team that will hold responsibility for a step change in the corporate capability around data. We are bringing analytical capability together and looking to work closely with other teams delivering business critical projects.

 

At an industry level, the charity sector understands the importance of data and the implications of how data is handled. There are lots of organisations out there doing incredible things.

 

What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?

 

Having a positive data culture is incredibly important and a big piece in how to make data and analytics work in an organisation. Everyone plays a part in an organisation being data-first, from how people input data to how they use it and ensuring data is safe and secure is essential.

 

The aim would be that people do not fear the data and also understand the importance of good data and help to set a positive data culture that really gets the best out of this incredible asset. Alongside people’s experiences and knowledge, data can help with decision making and being able to show people what can be done with good data, alongside providing a solid, secure infrastructure to make the data accessible is a step towards improving data maturity.

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