When Nicky Klein was appointed as the first chief data officer (CDO) at Direct Line Group, there was a lack of support and investment in the data team driven by a clear path to value and siloed ways of working. To turn this around, Nicky needed to be an expert, a storyteller, a confidant, a challenger, corporate rebel and an endlessly energetic figurehead. As a result of her efforts, data is a strategic investment area and the team is delivering significant business value.
Navigating changes at the executive board level, including a change of chief executive shortly after she joined, she focused on building relationships and delivering value to senior managers. This started with ensuring that the data strategy enabled the new business strategy. At the same time, an internal focus on the re-platforming of the policy system was taking a lot of strategic investment and time, so Nicky concentrated on ensuring data and analytics would support this programme and enhance its benefits.
After nine months, the CDO was able to quantify significant future value delivery from increased revenue, reduced costs, automation, increased productivity and effective ways of working. This included increased revenues through optimised sales and pricing, reduced levels of fraud, and automation of 10,000 reports.
Turning around the perception of data and its value included ensuring that the key pillars of the data strategy were understood across the organisation. A balance was struck between investing in foundational capabilities, such as governance and business intelligence, and value-drivers, such as analytics and risk insights.
Nicky also focused on embedding a new culture, which has seen DLG adopt an agile methodology enterprise-wide, as well as ensuring the new data platform and tools became genuine business enablers. From a small pilot project involving six colleagues, there is now a community of over 400 using the principles, behaviours and ways of working she put in place.