Accurate and Accessible Data: A Premium Insurance Policy

Accurate and Accessible Data: A Premium Insurance Policy

August 20, 2020 by Julie Elliott, President

I noticed that it’s summer and the snow tires are still on our truck so I asked my husband why. “It’s 2020,” he replied. “I’m not taking any chances.”

If ever there was a year to have an insurance policy, 2020 is it. Let’s face it, you just don’t know what might happen.

Since the dawn of time, or at least for the last 25+ years, I have strongly believed that having accurate and accessible data is like owning a premium insurance policy. While dynamic data may help you execute grand campaigns and lead to strategic organizational accomplishments, at its most base level, it’s there to help you weather a crisis.

Let me share three recent examples of how our clients leveraged their data in a moment’s notice:

Storm Communication

Utility professionals have all been there — a hurricane, a tornado, an ice storm (or in 2020 — all of these combined to create a derecho) rips through the system. At Inside Information, we help clients create plans to gather and update member contact info regularly so it’s ready and available for times like these. We also have platforms in place to use the data once the emergency strikes. For instance, we have email templates built and ready to go. We maintain “dark pages” on websites that can be launched and loaded with crisis information. And we’re able to target messages based on co-op data we have at our fingertips, like contacting members on a certain feeder within a specific substation.


Within 24 hours of shutdowns occurring across the U.S., Inside Information sent more than 200,000 emails to members on behalf of our clients. The total of COVID-19-related member contacts has since grown to nearly 550,000 and includes:

  • Up-to-the-minute updates about office closures and social distancing guidelines
  • High speed internet service offerings to help members and their children working and learning from home
  • COVID-19 surveys to gauge the impact of the pandemic on members and gather feedback about how the co-op performed during this time
  • CARES financial resource information targeted to business accounts
  • Payment deferral and assistance opportunity emails targeted to members whose accounts were impacted
  • Annual and district meetings "gone virtual" communications

Grassroots Activation

In the past year, many states have faced legislative roadblocks to the expansion of broadband internet services by cooperatives. We help our clients enhance their member files with vital data such as legislative districts and voter information. Combining this data with other historical info like annual meeting attendance and program participation yields specific member segments which are then used to conduct effective engagement campaigns.

If you’re discouraged about 2020 (or even if you’re not), I have a suggestion for how to add an accomplishment to your list before the end of the year. Take an inventory of your data and create an action plan to understand, assemble, expand, and use it. Look at what you have coming up in 2021 – whether that’s launching fiber or changing programs  - and think about the data that might play a key role in the success of those initiatives.

We’ve created a super simple cheat sheet to get you going.

Download our Data Planning Toolkit

No one could predict what 2020 would look like. While I don’t pretend to know what the future holds, I can guarantee there will be a need to activate data, if not this year at some point in the future. So, ask yourself, “Am I covered?” And maybe, like me, you’ll finally feel confident enough to change out those snow tires in August.

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