Business strategies increasingly include data and analytics, but do they consider how to deliver that vision? At the DataIQ Summit, both dimensions of transformation were presented to give a rounded understanding of how to change up.
Change may be a constant in the business world, but it plays havoc with data models and technology infrastructures. So getting the vision right makes a difference because it can avoid being sidetracked by downstream problems. Equally, delivering against that vision is easier if it is aligned to clear business goals that sustain executive support and funding.
Which is why the two-day DataIQ Summit 2015, which took place on 16th and 17th June, offered an insight into the strategic goals being pursued by companies on Day One, with a focus on how those get delivered on Day Two. With a heavyweight line-up of keynote speakers, the unique format of 360-degree sessions by speakers from the same company addressing both issues on subsequent days proved highly successful (see box copy on News UK, Telegraph Media Group and British Gas).
For Moneysupermarket.com, the issue has been how to ensure data is aggregated from multiple online brands offering 50 to 60 products each to ensure a positive experience for the customer. “We have a three-year programme to rebuild our technology stack and create an enterprise data warehouse which is about delivering a tailored experience to individuals on each website,” explained Brian Price, group head of data engineering.
With the migration of many critical services online, an emerging challenge is identity verification. One of the outstanding presentations at the Summit came from David Rennie, head of industry engagement for the Cabinet Office’s Gov.UK Verify service, given in the Callcredit Information Group headline sponsor slot on Day One.
“The importance of identity and trust is a central concern in the digital market,” he said. “Organisations need to collaborate to solve the challenges because the digital environment is not yet fully trusted. Identity is fundamental to society.” Rennie explained how the new identity verification service will provide one-stop access to Government services and may also become a core provision within online transactions.
Identity at a personal level is built on facets of personality which Sandra Matz, psychometrician at University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre, explained can be derived from data and used to serve personalised content and services. “The algorithm understands your customer, even if you don’t,” she said.
Many of those personalised messages are now delivered via the marketing automation eco-system offered by Adobe. On Day Two, director of demand marketing EMEA, Simon Morris, described the success which the company had enjoyed using its own tools to promote its solutions, as well as looking at why marketers need to improve their performance and metrics. “Eighty per cent of CEOs do not trust marketers,” he reported.
Simon Kaffel, head of information management at Telefónica O2 UK, underlined the problem. “The CFO’s perspective is numbers - they have no insight into the processes and how the business works. Technology is often seen as the solution, rather than how to improve processes and get business functions, like marketing, to perform better by using data and analytics. The challenge for us is how to sell that to the C-suite,” said Kaffel.
At BMJ, the decision has already been made to transform processes as the business evolves from being the fourth most-cited general medical journal in the world into a provider of digital information and services. As David Hutcheson, marketing analysis and reporting manager, said: “Data is seen as a key enabler for transformation and the business plan through to 2017. The CEO has mandated that we become a user-focused organisation, rather than product focused.”
If delivering against these visions can look challenging, imagine you work in an industry that hasn’t made a profit in 20 years. That is where car insurance finds itself, according to David Watkins, chief data officer at RSA. “Adding credit scoring to prospect profiling can make the difference between profit and loss. That is the impact which data makes and is why some companies in the industry regularly make a profit,” he said.
That is clear proof that embedding data and analytics in a business makes strategic sense and that practical solutions are available to make that happen. Bringing together both of these views across the DataIQ Summit 2015 gave delegates plenty to think about and action points to take back to their own companies.
News UK - the 360° view
“When people told me the newspaper industry is a crazy place to work, I had no idea they weren’t joking.” When your task is to tell a business what is happening and that business can change direction over the course of a day, providing that intelligence was never going to be easy. “Hold the front page stuff really happens.”
So said Andy Day, business intelligence director, pointing out on Day One that News UK sells one billion newspapers every year - more than tins of baked beans. The company introduces over 700 products per year, compared to a typical rate of one per month at his previous employer, Telefónica. Yet despite this, he noted, “people told us that 'editorial instinct’ was the order of the day.” There was a healthy degree of scepticism as to how BI would really make a difference in understanding the audience.
Exposing some of the myths about the business helped to get buy-in. “The Sun has more ABC1 readers than The Times and Financial Times put together. That was hard for the business to get its head around,” said Day. Given the strategy of paid-for content being pursued by News UK, this type of insight is vital. “It is how the business will make more money.”
Day offered ten tips for success. Senior-level sponsorship and alignment with the business strategy are key, as is speaking the language of the business - “Sunalytics” is an example of this. “People don’t care about logarithmic regression or Hadoop, they just care about the output that helps them do their job,” he said. That means recognising, “it’s not just about big data”, but rather that it is all about people.
Telling a story, becoming famous within the business, balancing the routine with the innovative and earning the right to challenge are essential. Communicating is also vital as part of democratising data and making belief in data and insight sustainable.
Charlotte Richards, head of business partners, demonstrated how the News UK BI team is doing this on Day Two. She shared some key learnings, such as “be a partner, not a service provider”, while also saying how important it is to learn to say no. “The goal is to empower, not disenfranchise, and self-service is a key tool for this.”
She identified possible tensions between the demand for quick results and the fact that transformation takes years. “For some of our programmes we started small, with the subscription model that identified the headroom in the market and a propensity model. But sometimes you need a big bang - for us, that was the audience segmentation,” said Richards.
One of the benchmarks during transformation is out-performing the gut feel of managers. Richards noted that the existing forecasts by the circulation manager have proved to be remarkably accurate. By contrast, insight into the impact of tablet usage in early life led to a programme of email prompts which have had a marked impact on the retention of triallists past 90 days.
“Telling the story is vital - you may think the brilliance of the analysis talks for itself, but it doesn’t. You need to explain things, so we have become data story tellers,” she explained. Giving 60 presentations in six weeks to the business demonstrates the appetite for what the team has to offer.
Telegraph Media Group - the 360° view
“This is still a newspaper and online publisher.” So said Ken McPherson, director of data, in a necessary clarification about a company with 15 different business areas, ranging from events and wine to travel and dating. With a paid-for content model and the growing shift in advertising budgets online, the business recognised in 2012 it needed integrated first-party data.
“We needed to build a unified audience across platforms and data feeds for our 80 million visitors. We identified a huge opportunity,” explained McPherson. TMG built a single customer view linked to its online data management platform to support the full range of direct selling, programmatic advertising, off-site retargeting and one-to-one CRM. This formed the use case for what became the Telegraph Audience data asset.
“The ad sales team is not easy for a data person to crack, but we were able to demonstrate the value through a six-fold increase in ad delivery and click-through rates,” he said. In-house marketing inventory was reduced by 60 per cent and offered back to the sales team. There has been a 12 per cent increase in behavioural data-driven email CTR and the company can now track visitors on and off-site.
McPherson noted that editorial also benefits: “We are getting intelligence about online behaviour that tells editorial what delivers the most engagement with readers and that is helping to drive the content they develop. Previously, telling editors about profiling was not fruitful - now there is a big change because we have demonstrated the power of data and understanding customers.”
He added: “Four years ago, we couldn’t tell the editorial floor we knew their readers better than they did. That is a huge change, but part of a print company going digital. Now we have got top-down buy-in, the challenge is to build all of our data into one single view.”
When eCRM senior manager Jim Nicholson first joined TMG, a senior executive told him, “welcome to the email factory.” As he explained on Day Two, the CRM programme consisted solely of emails - 8 million per month - with typical open rates of 25 per cent and CTR of 6 per cent. “We were serving different parts of the business, led by their issues and problems,” he said.
The challenge has been to expand so that unknown web traffic becomes identified, core users could be upsold, a unified contact strategy across all business areas could be established and customers could be contacted in their preferred channel. “We are not doing anything radical, just using the tools we have and making them work harder,” said Nicholson. “Now we are using behavioural data to drive the content being served.”
A new onboarding strategy has been developed for eight customer groups following 16 unique customer journeys. “Now we have a hierarchy of messages, instead of sending out 30-plus emails per week,” said Nicholson. “It is customer-centric marketing. It is not new, but it is still impactful.”
British Gas - the 360° view
“When you do this job in a company like this, there are a lot of people to talk to,” James Morgan, director of management information at British Gas, explained on Day One. With a remit to transform the MI function, there was plenty to talk about - and many problems to listen to from the full range of stakeholders.
The company had a lot of legacy systems and processes. “We also had all of the technology you can think of,” noted Morgan. “But management information is vital because it gets published, for example in company accounts, and it can be a differentiator.”
After this listening exercise, he set the vision of “right information, right place, right time” and sold it in by explaining how it would support capabilities in the business. “It requires a change in behaviour - often people just want the data so they can do the clever stuff. But that makes MI just a ‘dumb pipe’ and we needed to change the terms of reference,” said Morgan.
“If you tackle that in a traditional business intelligence way, the delivery is data. We need to change things and deliver fixes, quick wins that show improvements. It takes a lot of work to set up the right programme, but it is worth doing,” he said. A target operating model was defined with a new MI team structure and cloud-based technology.
One year into the transformation, the new processes are nearly complete. “We can now develop new things much more quickly - it used to be six months for a complex request, now it takes six days and we can make changes in a few hours,” said Morgan. Part of the new culture is accepting some projects will fail. “Ask for forgiveness, rather than permission.”
Eddie Edwards, head of BI, underlined the scale of the transformation on Day Two. “We had 20,000 KPIs, 1,500 people requesting data, ‘shadow’ MI programmes, and three major projects, including a new data centre,” he said. That list of metrics has been trimmed to over 400 and a data lake created using Hortonworks and Hadoop which is linked via 1,300 SAP tables. “That has opened up new ways of looking at our data.”
At the heart of the programme has been addressing the question, “why do people believe IT has all the answers?”, he said, with access to data being part of the answer. “We decided to change our behaviour and become a data provider, pushing reporting back to the business,” said Edwards. “We have integrated all the data, picked out the key tables and leave it to users to apply it to whatever they want.”