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Andy Ruckley, director of data, BI and analytics, Photobox

Andy Ruckley, director of data, BI and analytics, Photobox

How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?

 

Photobox uses its data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose on a number of levels. We created the “North Star metric”, with supporting leading and lagging indicators that help drive the understanding of the current performance and allows us to give early alerts of any deviations to allow counter measures. We also use deep insights into what the customer is experiencing while creating their products on our website. This allows us to optimise the web and app experience, making the relevant changes to the customer’s journey to improve it.

 

2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?

 

2020 and the Covid pandemic impacted our planned activities slightly and did introduce new areas for the teams to investigate.

 

Although our sales increased during the lockdowns across different the countries we operated in, analysis was needed to understand if we were pulling sales forward or away from our typical trading periods or if these were additional sales.

 

We were also interested to understand if we were bringing in a different type of customer (as we saw huge increases in our “goodies” product lines, such as jigsaws) and could we predict if they would also buy our other product lines.

 

Understanding which product groups were at risk of poor performance was also important (such as wedding-orientated books, as the Covid restrictions reduced the number of people getting married), thus reforecasting the expected sales volumes of key product lines.

 

Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?

 

As our company becomes more customer focused and wanting a better, easier and friction-free experience, especially in key product lines (such as in the creation of books) then I expect a greater focus to be on net promoter score and its underlying drivers in order to correlate these drivers onto internal processes or web/page designs.

 

Also, as Covid restrictions continue, I expect that we will continue to look at the impact on sales, aiding the reforecasting of the sales numbers for key product lines.

 

Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?

 

In Photobox, we believe in minimising our carbon footprint where possible. To support the drive in reduction of waste and CO2 emissions in the production of our products, we aid the factory managers in understanding which production lines can be optimised and how to achieve these aims using the data collected during the processing.

 

What has been your path to power?

 

My career began over 25 years ago as an analyst in a marketing department, where data about customer behaviour was used to tailor marketing messages and this gave me a real thirst to turn data into actionable insights. While working for a large mobile phone operator, I decided to study for a Master’s in Applied Statistics which, with the large data-sets available, allowed me to build many segmentations and prediction models.

 

This is where I first experienced the power that good insights can bring to effective decision making. I took this enthusiasm for data into my senior management roles, where my focus moved from customer strategy and CRM to enabling the whole business through business intelligence and data warehousing. This evolved into building holistic data ecosystems that could support timely insights on an architecture of modern, flexible technologies.

 

During my first year at Photobox, the key focus for me was the importance of bringing the right people together, providing the right blend of data architecture, data stewardship and data engineering skills to tie economic significance to the value of data.

 

My second year has been about elevating the insight from an operational level to a more strategic level. The team has been instrumental in setting a KPI framework that aligns to Photobox’s “North Star”, enabling the business to have insights into the supporting leading and lagging indicators for the metrics that are most relevant.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

 

Being recognised by my peers for my achievements in creating and implementing data strategy in the 2018 DataTalks awards and winning the 2nd Generation Chief Data Officers award.

 

Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?

 

I am pursuing a non-bias approach to recruitment as my team grows with the support of our HR team (with non-bias training, learning new interview techniques, etc). This is to broaden the diversity of my analyst community. My belief is that the more diversity we can bring to this community, the better the insights we will deliver to Photobox

 

How closely aligned to the business are data and analytics both within your own organisation and at an industry level? What helps to bring the two closer together?

 

Within Photobox, the data and analytics teams are highly aligned with the business. The analysts are embedded into different teams and support the corresponding objectives and key results of those teams. They all support the overriding goal of “making Photobox smarter”. They work with their respective teams on short-term tactical insights and more important strategic insights that aid the improvement of that team. Examples include supporting the AB testing for our web optimisation product team and detailed logistic regression on the drivers of net promoter score that supports changes in business processes.

 

What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?

 

My view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation is to create relevant information for all people across the board and share this widely, trying to ensure everyone feels included in the knowledge sharing and can feel its benefits in their day to day roles. To achieve this, we have started new initiatives including:

  • Creating a fortnightly newsletter for the whole company to support the data team’s mission is about “making Photobox smarter”. This contains the key insights we have identified and why they are important to Photobox. We also share definitions of key attributes to help drive the consistency of key metrics.

  • We also hold fortnightly sessions with the business around key business processes, documenting the metrics and definitions. This is where a cross-functional team can debate the meanings and agree on what the right definition is. We avoid calling it governance or even mention words like data stewardship, which can sometimes turn business stakeholders off. Instead, we talk about data literacy and the importance of keeping things simple and reducing things like reconciliation of numbers which everyone hates. This drives inclusivity and buy-in for the data culture.
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