Andy Peloe has been working at Callcredit Information Group since 1999 when it was known as EuroDirect. Much has changed since then, not least his job title. Peloe now has the role of concept manager, data strategy and innovation. As part of an eight-strong team, split 50:50 between fellow concept managers and data scientists, it is his responsibility to scan the horizon for new opportunities emerging from data and technology.
“It is a different mindset,” he explains to DataIQ. “I come from a product background - I ran the team responsible for building Cameo. That’s the way of working I am used to.” Within the new team, things are somewhat different. Data scientists examine data for its potential to become a concept which is worth developing. “It is like a lab,” says Peloe.
Each concept is worked on for six weeks, which may be long enough to progress an incremental change. Large projects will be broken down into smaller components which can be run as concepts. “We evaluate at the end of each six-week period. If it is going somewhere, we keep pushing it or build it,” he says.
Peloe is wary of describing this approach as agile, although it does use some of the concepts from that IT development methodology and does enable quick progress. He argues: “We don’t want to get bogged down because things are changing so fast, so we need to be fleet of foot. Crucially, it allows us to respond more quickly to clients’ needs.”
One downside of the team’s working method is its target success ratio for concepts of 30%. Says Peloe: “It's really important to drive ourselves to be on the cutting edge - we've a target of three out of ten initiatives being promoted to the product roadmaps. This is an important balance - if we succeed much less than this then we're not providing the value creation the company needs. However, if we succeed much more than this it's a sign we're playing it too safe and not challenging ourselves enough.”
He adds: “That is a real challenge because sometimes it means killing your babies - concepts you have been arguing to protect. But you need to change your mindset towards test and evaluate. It may just not be the right time for a concept - it can always be revisited again down the line when the market is ready,” he says.
Creating the team was the brainchild of Callcredit’s chief data officer, Mark Davison when he took on the role in March 2015. He recognised that the company should be working on potential data solutions at the three to five-year horizon as much as in the near-term where product teams are focused.
It is therefore too soon for any of the concepts which have been run through the team to have come to fruition. “Nothing has yet reached the market, but by the end of the year, you will see something,” promises Peloe.
Concepts under consideration include the use of social media as part of identity verification. As Peloe notes, “it can be very difficult for customers to recall their last transaction, so there may be a place for combining things from social media that customers use all the time to speed up verification.” That brings with it a potential fraud prevention dimension since criminals struggle to create credible, rich social media profiles, even if they are able to take over social media accounts.
Future-proofing Callcredit’s products is a core objective, such as considering how to make the geodemographic profiling solution Cameo more dynamic in real-time as well how to make it predictive. “If you are in one Cameo group now, can we predict which one you will be in at three, five or ten years’ time?” he wonders. “Any data set is open for us to explore.”
Many of the concepts being worked on by the team reflect the fact that, as Peloe points out, “data is changing - five years ago most of it was being produced by organisations, now most of it is being produced by consumers. There has been a clear generational change in attitudes towards data and the guardians of that data.”
As part of a tight-knit team that sits together, Peloe finds himself at the forefront of commercial data development, able to draw on that most coveted of resources - a group of data scientists - while still having real-world objectives. “We have only been doing this for a year, but it has been very different from the past and very exciting. The appointment of our CDO and his creation of the team shows the commitment of the company to data innovation.”
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