Data An Invaluable Tool for Decision-Makers

Posted 18th December 2018

In 2016 Zhaohan Wang enrolled in Carnegie Mellon University’s 2-year Master of Science in Information Technology degree to advance his career as a data scientist.

“I’ve always wanted to work with data as it can unlock real value for businesses, said Zhaohan Wang.

“Technology means that we can collect ever-increasing amounts of data. But data isn’t valuable unless you have the right tools to analysis and interpret it.

“At Carnegie Mellon University I focused on subjects in information technology, data analytics and management with a view to working in the corporate sector or consulting using data to inform decision-making,” he said.

Less than four months after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, Zhaohan Wang secured a fulltime position with ReturnToWork South Australia (RTWSA) as a data analysis officer working in Adelaide.

Technology means that we can collect ever-increasing amounts of data. But data isn’t valuable unless you have the right tools to analysis and interpret it.

Zhaohan Wang (CMU-A MSIT 2018 graduate) secured a position soon after graduating with Return to Work SA in Adelaide working in data analytics and business intelligence.

RTWSA is responsible for providing work injury insurance and regulating the South Australian Return to Work scheme. The scheme is funded by insurance premiums from over 50,000 employers and is overseen by the South Australian Government under the Return to Work Act.

Zhaohan joined Phil Widdas’s Scheme Analytics team at RTWSA in September 2018.

The team is responsible for monitoring and reporting on the performance of the scheme, setting industry premium rates and providing the information and support for the valuation of the scheme liability.

“Essentially, we provide a critical reporting service to management on how the scheme is performing financially, said Phil Widdas, Manager of Scheme Analytics.

“Our reporting looks at insurance premiums, the incomings, in relation to payments to injured workers, the outgoings, said Phil.

“As part of the reporting process, Scheme Analytics looks for emerging trends and issues which need to be addressed or could impact the liability of the scheme.

“For example, since February 2018 we’ve noticed an increased number of work injuries. This is of concern as it may increase the RTWSA’s overall liability”, said Phil.

Given Zhaohan’s strength in data analytics, he was asked to undertake a special project to see if he could determine the reason for the increase.

Phil Widdas, Return to Work SA's Manager of Scheme Analytics has employed 3 CMU-A graduates. "CMU-A graduates have outstanding skills, especially in analytics", said Phil. Pictured he with his most recent CMU-A recruit Zhaohan Wang (MSIT 2018).

Zhaohan built an analytics model using Tableau and SQL. He then used RTWSA’s inhouse data coupled with Open Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and employer organizations to determine the factors which might be influencing the increase in work injuries.

The data revealed that the increase in work injuries generally correlated to South Australia’s economic growth over the past 12 months.

Further analysis by RTWSA identified that the correlation was more evident in some specific industries.

The insights from Zhaohan’s work will undoubtedly underpin future decisions at RTWSA and might even be used to influence broader regulatory and policy issues.

Zhaohan’s work is yet another example of how data is an invaluable tool for decision-makers