How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?
More than ever, 2020 saw an explosion in the use of data and analytics in JLL. With the challenges Covid-19 introduced, we have been using analytics to reduce our costs and increase our productivity, while supporting the delivery of a great customer experience, making our vision to help people see and understand their data even more critical.
Recent examples include our Covid-19 re-entry programmes which our clients implemented, planning office layouts to abide with local restrictions and ensure floors and space were allocated correctly. We also provided geographic analysis to support where people were based so resources could be shared and ensure a continuation of service with minimal client disruption.
2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?
It started with me planning our new global structure and operating model, which included a vertical regional structure and horizontal centre of excellence structure for our data and analytics teams, spread across three regions, eight countries and nine time zones. The structure would be underpinned by a project management office function supporting front door, agile, ROI generation and prioritisation, and a business partnering function providing communication, training, and driving the insights and telling the story of the data.
With Covid-19 arriving, I had to temper our recruitment plans, reduce our budget and planned headcount, and introduce responsible recruiting (filling active roles with internal candidates only). The operating model involved four key elements, including maximising the margin potential within BI, centralising our account-based analyst community, identifying and sharing best practices and great analytical content across the business while introducing standards and best practices, and creating a clear development framework and career path for our teams.
Centralising over 42 teams with 130-plus headcount, all virtually, was a challenge with us introducing new collaboration tools and methods to ensure the teams felt like one, which we achieved.
Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?
This year will see the real value from our strategy and operating model come to fruition. We will deliver quantified margin improvements to the organisation, finalising the centralisation of our BI teams to ensure a consistent delivery of our operating model, standards and best practices.
We are launching an industry-leading BI portal to access content and enhance our BI standards and best practices which ensure consistency of delivery and ease of transference. Finally, our Alteryx adventure and Tableau quest programmes will take our analysts from rookie to rockstars, enabling them to certify in their favourite tools and attend conferences, through a gamification programme which has been received well.
There will be an acceleration in conversational analytics through natural language. We will also benefit from augmented analytics which will search our data and present us with insights and share unknown unknowns.
Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?
Yes, it absolutely is. We encourage the team to take part in several external activities during their working week, such as data visualisation for social good and partner with programmes like (#MAD) Millennials in Data, Black Girls Code, and to take the lead with community-led programmes, like Tableau’s equality for all.
We are also partnering with a leading UK charity to provide free support to them on their data and analytics strategy and programme, supporting with both thought leadership and practical resources to drive them forwards, moving them from descriptive and hindsight analytics to foresight with predictive and prescriptive analytics.
What has been your path to power?
I started off in retail at Tesco, where I was always known as the “data guy”, providing insights to performance through coloured Post-it notes on brown paper. Following that, I moved to easyJet as an accountant, where we had so much data, but we were using Excel as our business information tool. I wanted to create a treemap, which ultimately led to us evaluating BI tools and introducing Tableau. I then led the BI programme and developed its world-class centre of excellence. I also started leading the London Tableau user group and was named a Tableau ambassador.
In 2015, I switched to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) as I was excited by the data journey corporate real estate was on, leading its largest global account team and driving innovation and tool adoption across the BI space, while delivering over $40 million of quantified benefit through BI.
In 2020, I was named the global lead for BI, performance management and Innovation, taking the work I had previously done and creating a global community to maximise our benefits.
What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?
Being included in the DataIQ 100 most influential people in data for 2020 was my proudest achievement! I felt that it was a culmination of JLL was being recognised as a real global powerhouse in the data and analytics space. The team won numerous industry awards and was nominated for many others.
Through sharing our processes and best practices externally, we were able to attract significant talent to join and bolster the team, including Tableau zen master’s and ambassadors with many organisations reaching out to us to share our journey. Giving back to the community and developing tomorrow’s talent makes me extremely proud.
Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?
I believe that diversity and inclusion is a key challenge in the data and analytics industry and a personal goal of mine is to influence change in this space. As my team has grown through centralisation, I have built analytics, looking at HR metrics to understand disparities with gender and ethnicity across the team and put plans in place to address those.
We also partner with programmes like Black Girls Code and Millennials in Data to support the development and recruitment of the BAME community in our industry and in JLL.
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?
Our team partners hand-in-hand with the business daily, becoming its trusted partners as we know that transparency to data can kill noise and helps the business understand the value which we bring. Knowing that we are employing and growing some of the best talent in the business creates trust in our outputs. We don’t just create the dashboards - through business partnering, we communicate its creation to the business, train it in usage and best practice, and then analyse the data to find the insights and share the stories within. Getting our teams to use live dashboards rather than images in PowerPoint during meetings makes a real difference to the pace of insight.
At an industry level, we partner with software vendors to help share the journey we are on and how the tools can be improved to support that further. We were involved in helping to shape Tableau’s blueprint journey, which has been used by many organisations over the past 18 months. We also make a point of sanitising and sharing our dashboards for the industry to use as building blocks, while also publishing and teaching our standards and best practices.
What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?
Creating a data-literate culture is at the heart of what we do as a team and a business. We have presented our culture blueprint vision to data leaders at conferences over the past 12 months and, as Peter Drucker says, “culture easts strategy for breakfast”.
Our culture supports the BI strategy and is made up of 5 elements: