“Data analytics” involves, simply, searching for, obtaining, and studying information on a particular industry or organization, from all sources. Sources may be from the government, from private sources, from non-profit research groups providing data to the public, and from the organization being studied. Data may be free, for a fee, or – internal and not available for others to use.
Regardless of industry., organization or business, or whether its a bank, insurance company, retail chain or hospital system, there is information, “data”, available that may help us evaluate and improve. Some is data we have as a consequence of doing our work. These data comes from our specifically gathering data from our employees, suppliers, customers, and the market as a whole.
We may be looking at “big data”, such as the National Opinion Research Center’s (NORC) General Social Survey (GSS), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ ) Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project databases, including, among others, the National Inpatient Survey (NIS), the National Emergency Department Survey (NEDS), the National Readmissions Database (NRD) and others.
Or we may be looking at individual random sample surveys that we or others have conducted on particular topics with randomized selection of respondents.
Data refers either the quantitative observations (giving us numbers for analysis) or on qualitative observations (giving us opinions, statements, and observations on a given topic). When we use focus groups, we’re normally gathering qualitative data.
Data collection is part of the documentation process as we describe human social behavior and, as appropriate, modify that behavior or the “stage” on which that behavior is performed. For example, we can observe how people drive their vehicles on small rural roads and on interstate highways. Based on observations of the average speed of the vehicles and any accidents or incidents, the road design (the “stage”) may change to reduce average speed and the number and types of accidents over a given period of time.
We know that if we can change human social behavior of residents in their neighborhoods and communities (the “stage”), we can we can have healthier residents and reduce need for more hospitals, more surgical procedures and more drugs.
Or a new grocery store may want to decide whether they want to build their store in an urban neighborhood where there are many competitors or to build their store in a new neighborhood in the suburbs where there are fewer competitors.
In the 1970s, downtown stores moved to the suburbs. Now, as urban areas are higher income, the stores are moving back to downtown locations. The behavior the store managers want to change is how people shop for groceries, whether downtown (one stage) or in a rural or suburban area (two other stages).