My name is Ray Campbell; welcome to my website.
This site is intended as a vessel for various professional information about me, as a place for posts relating to certain professional interests, and as a virtual office wall on which to hang some photographs inspired by my love of New England’s natural history.
Since August 1, 2016 I have been serving as the Executive Director of the Center for Health Information and Analysis, an independent public entity of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The following text is something I posted on this landing page in the Summer of 2012, as I was shifting my work focus from health IT and health information exchange to health data and analytics. Since it captures my thinking at the time I was transitioning into the health data phase of my career, I’ve decided to leave it up to provide some context and to see how well it ages.
Over the past several years I have become increasingly convinced that we are in the early stages of a profound “data and analytics revolution,” an umbrella term I use for a cluster of related-yet-distinct developments, including big data, open data, deep personal data, reality mining, the Internet of Things, and several others. These technology trends, each important in their own right, are all manifestations of the same phenomenon, which is the explosive growth in the volume and variety of data we generate at the same time that we are increasingly sophisticated in our ability to capture, manage, analyze, visualize, share, and monetize such data.
The cumulative effect of all these innovations will be a fundamental change in the way people experience, understand, and make decisions about the world around them. That’s very big stuff, and I’m quite sure it has not yet been “priced into the market,” not just in the narrow economic sense, but also in the more fundamental intellectual sense as well.
The data and analytics revolution is being fueled by radical advances in both data sources and data uses. Looking at the sources side of the equation first, there are a lot of impressive statistics one can cite about the staggering volume and variety of digital data we now create, capture, and manipulate, but the fundamental point is that we are moving from a world of data scarcity to a world defined by data abundance.
Examples abound. Healthcare information that until recently had to be gathered laboriously by teams of nurses reviewing and summarizing paper medical records is now available through electronic health records at any time, at virtually no marginal cost. This creates incredible possibilities not just for treatment breakthroughs, but also for service and efficiency improvements. As the payment system is slowly reformed to create the right incentives, moneyball will come to healthcare.
Not long ago, transportation planners gathered traffic data by deploying and then collecting a small number of boxes attached to pressure hoses laid across the road. Today, the movement of (de-identified) cell phones, GPS devices, and toll transponders lets planners watch in real-time (or store and analyze) interactive maps showing traffic volumes and conditions on every road across an entire city during every hour of the day. Infrastructure use and congestion can be measured and managed as never before.
Those are just two examples from among thousands. This phenomenon of data abundance is rolling across every sector of the economy – some faster than others – and it will eventually transform not just the economy, but also our social institutions, our political institutions, and our relationships as individuals with corporations, with government, and with other people. Whoa. As I said, that’s big stuff.
Just as the sources of data are expanding dramatically, our ability to use data is becoming increasingly sophisticated. The first analytics department in corporate America was started at UPS in 1954 (they called it “operations research”), and until fairly recently analytics was restricted to highly specialized back-office functions. In addition to the volume and variety of data that is available these days, many other trends have converged to make that data more useful and valuable, such as the growth and diffusion of computing power, the rise of the Internet, the influence of data-centric management disciplines like TQM and Six Sigma, the increasing sophistication of data visualization techniques, the development of new database technologies that allow for the analysis of huge volumes of unstructured data, the proliferation of powerful mobile devices that both generate and consume data, cloud computing that makes data available anywhere, and several others.
The outsized success of entities like Google, Facebook, Walmart, Amazon, and Netflix has proven that there is tremendous economic value in data and analytics, and other firms are being forced to emulate these leaders. Although born in the back office, data and analytics are fast becoming strategic priorities in the C-suite.
As a senior executive and attorney who understands the worlds of data and analytics, I am available to advise organizations on strategic uses of analytics, particularly in cases involving the acquisition, use, and sharing of healthcare or government data. I am also available to advise organizations on the legal, public policy, and business issues that innovative uses of data and quantitative methods often raise. A more complete description of my skills and experiences in the areas of data and analytics is available here. I also continue to make myself available to consult on health IT, health information exchange, and health reform matters, as described more fully here.
While this is not a strictly linear progression in my career, it fits seamlessly with all of the different things I’ve done. Not only have I used statistical software tools since college and graduate school, but I have recently taken additional courses in statistics and related subjects to strengthen my quantitative skills. Beyond this, however, I am increasingly convinced that the essence of analytics is about much more than quantitative methods. Organizations that succeed with analytics need senior people who understand the possibilities and limitations of data and analytics, who are comfortable looking at decisions and challenges from an analytic perspective, and who know how to ask the right questions both with and about analytics.
I am confident I have the subject matter expertise, the data savvy, and the analytics literacy to help organizations navigate the changing contours of the data and analytics revolution. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for your interest.