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. I then led the BI programme and developed the centre of excellence but switched to Jones Lang Services (JLL) four years ago.
Since joining JLL, I have introduced a vision to help people see and understand their data. I have transformed the BI and technology team into a virtual, high performing unit, spread across five countries and six time zones, becoming the smartest when it comes to data, insights and technology and delivering an ROI on our output which will total $50 million over five years.
I admire the drive, passion and innovation of Elon Musk. He utilises technology to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy and using AI, machine learning and deep neural networks to create a fleet of level five autonomous vehicles, while building rockets which land themselves and planning Mars missions.
Broadly 2019 turned out as planned as we launched a new global work order management system in 46 countries. This required a whole rebuild of our data warehousing, architecture and dashboards which was delivered through Project Picard – our “next generation” analytics. The process allowed us to utilise the latest best practices and thinking to ensure we were able to drive real value and insights from our outputs across the business.
There will be an acceleration in conversational analytics, with BI tools increasing their capability through natural language. Today, people have to know which dashboards to open and explore to find insights; this year, we will benefit from augmented analytics which will search our data and present us with insights.
Advanced analytics will demystify much of the science behind data, enabling actionable insights, with real-time algorithms searching our data to identify anomalies and variation, machine learning helping to remove the human bias from decisions and actions will be recommended through real-time decision support, as we move into prescriptive analytics.
Accelerating the process from asking a question to finding insights which spawn the next generation of questions will be key. Augmented analytics will allow organisations to move up the analytical journey, from descriptive and diagnostic, through predictive and onto prescriptive.
Data literacy and regarding information as a second language will empower not just data engineers and analysts, but business users, leadership and C-suite to ask questions of their data.
However, I see the biggest technology opportunities coming around graph analytics, helping to understand relationships from vast unrelated data-sets and a move towards consuming data through VR and AR.
Ensuring a consistent approach across our global organisation with regional differences which can even vary by country. To overcome this, we believe our centre of excellence approach and culture is key.
Our internal analytics community supports continuous learning, agile working practices and peer viz reviews. It also encourages, rather than criticises, through reviewing design, analytics and insights using language of ‘I like’ and ‘I suggest’. We also run data viz challenges that allow passions to shine through and techniques to be learned, which can then be utilised at work.