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“Data! Data! Data!”: Using our data to inspire trust and confidence

“Data! Data! Data!" he cried impatiently. "I can't make bricks without clay.”

― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.

Admittedly, it’s a very overused quote from the genius mind of Mr Conan Doyle. More to the point, even back in 1892 when the Adventure of the Copper Beeches was published, the recognition of building an investigation on data was clear. Just imagine if Sherlock had access to Power BI!

Fortunately, we in Companies House do, thanks to our investment and commitment to building our decisions on data.

But what is Power BI? I sense you tap, tap, tap into Google. Well it’s a beautifully easy way of visualising your data. So, why should I care about visualising my data? I hear you ask. Now there’s a question worth thinking about.

At Companies House, every single person contributes to the understanding of how we work as an organisation. From every piece of post we open, to each form we process, from the diversity of our workforce to the number of sick days we report.

When we bring together all these puzzle pieces, we build a rich, informative picture of:

  • our workforce
  • our performance
  • our opportunities to celebrate success
  • our opportunities to strive

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit, the importance of Companies House data really came under the spotlight.

Overnight we moved to daily updates of information, pulling together millions of data points into an easily interpreted display.

In turn, this allowed our Executive Team and our management teams to make crucial decisions based on this easy to interpret information. Like how well our people are coping through this challenging time, and what we might need to do or provide to keep our people safe and well.

By using the data, our organisation made sure the support was appropriate, timely and we were able to measure the impact of what we were doing.

We have also been monitoring workload volumes far more regularly in order to inform our workload forecasting. This helps our Finance colleagues project the organisation’s income levels, which I’m sure you can imagine has been significantly challenging at this time.

Integrating this data into dashboards allows us to react quickly to any changing trends and can provide valuable insight. For example, we have been using innovative visualisations to monitor volumes by sector and UK region to give us a clearer understanding of what is currently driving company behaviour.

Of course, equally as important as our people and our workload, are the companies on our register. The next big effort was to better understand what this turbulent time might mean for them.

The government has launched 3 consultations to crack down on fraud and improve corporate transparency and the quality of information on the register.

Fill in the online consultations to have your say.

During this time, it has been imperative for the government to understand how businesses were coping during the pandemic and whether there were increases in businesses going under. This was because they were launching lots of business support measures – which you will have seen on the news.

Companies House has been providing data to a range of government partners which is being used to inform key policy decisions. Providing this data on a daily basis required us to transform the way we extract and collate data to create a fully automated data pipeline, which has been shared across government daily since April.

Thanks to our fantastic networks with the Office for National Statistics (ONS), you can now see some of this data for yourself in their Faster Indicators publication, which has enabled us to reach an even wider audience and increase the value of Companies House data.

So, who’d have thought it, a blog from Companies House on data and we managed to squeeze Sherlock Holmes in there too. Beautiful. Almost as beautiful as a Sankey diagram (I’ll leave you to Google that one as well).

All of this work demonstrates the value of the data on our register and how it helps us to build trust among our customers, which in turn helps drive confidence in the UK economy.

Our 5-year strategy details a new vision for Companies House and outlines our commitment to driving confidence in the UK economy.

Read more about how we’re helping to make the UK the best place to start and run a business.

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