How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?
Data plays a key role in driving the corporate vision, we work in a data rich industry and being able to leverage that data asset is hugely important. I think what is noticeable and telling is that data is seen as an equal to marketing, product and tech in terms of delivering against strategy.
2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?
We were fortunate as a business that we were able to pretty much continue with all of the activities and projects on our strategic data roadmap. If anything, the impact has been for us to push harder and faster as the deliverables became more important to the business.
There were, of course, new activities and briefs that were submitted into our insights pipeline, but we are set up to work in an agile fashion. Our processes are now pretty robust, and we have been able prioritise effectively.
At times, we had to produce insight very quickly to support decision making as I am sure was the case for most data teams but one of the interesting outcomes of the pandemic for me has been the need to slow down. By this I mean digging a little deeper into customer behaviours and challenging our existing assumptions of our market functions.
Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?
More of the same – continue to drive value from data by delivering enterprise wide data solutions, innovation through data science and delivering always-on insights to help the business to make better decisions faster.
Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?
Yes – I led the first Compare the Market data for good event in 2019 where we supported three charities with a range of data projects and training. Last year, despite having to run the event virtually, the team took this to another level. We increased the number of charities we supported to six and invested far more time upfront to make sure we could maximise the value of the day.
As a business, it is also important that we use data in the right way to support customers and in particular vulnerable customers – although this is not always celebrated in the same way as our CSR work it is still a massively important part of our data for good agenda.
What has been your path to power?
I did not set out to work in data, but my first role of any note was as a campaign analyst at Npower, where I learnt my trade before moving on to the West Brom Building Society to manage customer analytics.
In 2012, I moved to London to join Aimia. It was a brilliant place to work, with amazing opportunities to grow and develop. My first role was as an insight manager in the intelligent shopper solutions division, working with the Sainsbury’s loyalty team before moving on to a director role in the Middle East leading analytics for the Air Miles loyalty programme. I then came back to the UK to work in the Nectar loyalty analytics team. My time at Aimia definitely shaped my leadership style and my approach to championing data in the businesses I have been at since.
A stint at Wunderman followed and I would encourage everyone to spend some time at an agency – it really challenged my thinking and working at agency pace provides invaluable experience.
My current role is associate director for data insights and analytics for Compare the Market. It has been brilliant, and I have loved jumping back over the fence to be client side. We have done so much to be proud of in the past two years and it is exciting to think about how much more the team can do in the future.
What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?
There are lots of things I have been proud of through my career but many of them are personal to me and reflect the way that I have approached roles, built strong relationships with my teams or not been afraid to step outside of my comfort zone. If I were to pick a more tangible achievement, I think I would say the Compare the Market data for good project which has been a massive success, winning fantastic feedback from the charities and has also won a BGL Group level award.
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?
I would say at Compare the Market we do a pretty good job of it and I think we are starting to see a far greater degree of alignment in the industry as a whole. In part, I think that is because the lines between disciplines are blurring and therefore there has be a greater understanding of dependencies and requirements.
Having a CDO or a voice on the exec is massively important, but it is just as important that data teams are proactive in building relationships and making sure that they understand where they can add value to business roadmaps. It is not good enough to wait for the business to come to you.
What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?
It is more straight forward to get the business to buy into a need for data-driven decisions – as I have said, having a strong voice in the business and pro-actively driving the data agenda should get you there. I think the trickier part is making sure there is a collective responsibility across the business for the quality of the data – this is key to maintaining momentum as the data team will lose engagement from the business quickly if they cannot deliver because of a long list of data issues.