(US and Canada) Himanshu Arora, Chief Data and Analytics Officer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, speaks with Jake Dreier, VP, Growth and Marketing Strategy, HiLabs, about the challenges of rethinking data strategies and making data analytics a cultural element in organizations.
Arora says that data and analytics are still relatively new functions and even unique when it comes to being in senior roles across organizations. He mentions that the challenges for these roles are in four focus areas — structure, culture, nature, and nurture.
1. Structure is about creating and leveraging capability. It can either be in operational support areas or more of a strategic function. Similarly, the structure can also be in terms of a centralized or decentralized function.
2. Culture is about turning the application of data analytics into a cultural element and increasing the number of strategic decisions so that business operations start to rely on data analytics.
3. Nature is about the native skill sets required for teams to use data analytics effectively.
4. In terms of nurture, many areas in any organization already operate in an adjacent capability regarding data analytics. It is about nurturing those areas to become more conversant with an extension of the data analytics capability, whether in a centralized, decentralized, or federated model.
Arora reveals that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts chose the federated model that requires more parts of the organization to be conversant in data analytics. He explains that data analytics cannot be done in two parts of the organization. The organization defines teams as analytics pods composed of business, technology, and analytics acumen.
Arora further mentions that the pods become an aspiration for the broader parts of the organization based on the work that they are doing. This also reduces the efforts for a buy-in.
He sheds light on the data analytics development program launched in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. It is an enterprise-wide program that builds on the nature and nurture aspects. The idea is to cross-pollinate teams over time so that the culture is not limited to a small group of people but the whole organization.