Bill Hoffman gives practical advice on how to: 

  • Increase process efficiency to maximise the impact of change 
  • Effectively align data projects to business needs and the bottom line 
  • Accelerate change by overcoming common biases 
  • Boost organisation-wide engagement by using the 5 E’s 

Over the last 100 years, companies have become more able to provide personalised service to customers at scale, with the most successful companies, such as Amazon, often those who have been able to use data to empower buyers and deliver personalised service to them. 

Bill Hoffman, former senior executive at Best Buy, Bank of America, McKinsey and US Bank, explained it at the recent Data Leaders masterclass.

 

Personalise.-At-Scale

While companies like Amazon create a lot of headlines, however, the majority of companies are nowhere near that level.  Bill cites research from Gartner showing that 90% of organisations are failing to create real value from their data, despite approximately $40 billion being spent on big data projects.  It’s clear that we need to get better at securing a return on that investment. 

At the heart of this is the Data Leaders Framework, which Pascal Clement, the Chief Data Officer and Chairman at Data Leaders, introduced to provide a framework for all of the discussions undertaken during the Masterclasses.  The framework has been forged out of the learning from the hundreds of sessions conducted around the world over the past few years. 

Data-Leaders-Framework

 As Peter Drucker famously said, “culture eats strategy for business”, and it’s a topic that data leaders across Europe have grappled with.  This challenge is typically broken down into four distinct areas:  

  1. The fragmentation of analytics into silos, which makes it hard to coordinate efforts and align behind a common strategy.
  2. Inconsistent quality of both inputs and outputs, which makes it hard to draw consistent business findings from the data.
  3. Gaps in the data that provide an incomplete picture, which undermines the utility of the data.
  4. A lack of common vision across stakeholders, which ensures data isn’t used strategically, with insufficient work done to bolster data literacy.

Of course, to overcome these hurdles requires a data-driven culture, and Bill introduced a framework he has used extensively in the past to help deliver this: 

Bill described how the best companies focus their effort on items 1 and 4, as they’re able to take a strategic perspective of data and are using the insights they are finding to drive the business.  When the delegates were asked where they stood on Bill’s chart, there was an almost perfect bell curve, with the majority regarding themselves as “intermediate”.  

What sets leaders apart 

 The best companies that have leveraged data to its fullest have got the human aspect right.  For instance, those at the vanguard were able to secure strong frontline ownership of data.  This leadership helped to build capacity; develop a data mindset across the business; design the organisation so that it can capitalise on data, and identify and overcome any barriers that can get in the way.  

Bill identified a number of the key barriers that get in the way of meaningful progress with developing such a culture and becoming a data-driven business. 

Barrier Analysis

An important part of overcoming these biases is to unlearn many of the biases that cloud our thinking.  This is a barrier that has been identified by many of the leading management thinkers, from Clayton Christensen to Vijay Govindarajan as we can so often get bogged down with “how things work here”. 

When data is fundamental to the culture of the business, it changes every part of the organisation.  For instance, decisions begin to be made in real-time in response to what are usually uncertain circumstances.  This uncertainty also underpins the realisation that risks are inevitable in any of our assumptions, and in reality, we are dealing with probabilities rather than certainties. 

To deliver such a data-driven culture also requires the organisation, and its leadership, to focus on all aspects of data, including the aspects that are not visible or sexy.  For instance, it’s common to invest in the latest technology without investing in skills and organisation structure to ensure data is being capitalised on. 

When delegates were quizzed on the issues that were most important to them, customer optimisation was the clear winner, with customisation and omnichannel issues highlighting the clear customer-centric nature of priority for delegates. 

Translating the data 

A common theme across Data Leaders masterclasses is the importance of being able to communicate data across the business, especially in ways that are understandable and actionable to people with varying levels of IT and data literacy.  This can be enabled by professionals who are able to translate highly complex data-driven insights into actionable language for those on the front line. 

The best-in-class organisations are able to translate complex data into actionable language so that it can then be embedded into new behaviors across the business, with these changes then measured to qualify the improvements being made.  This underlines the importance of having a mixture of technical and commercial skills, with the FDI crossing the boundary between the two. 

This helps to drive engagement across the business, which will be crucial to developing a truly data-driven culture. 

5 Es of driving engagement

5 Key Take-Aways 

Bill concluded his session by giving delegates five key thoughts to take back to their organisations: 

  1. Identify the key elements of a data-driven culture that you will focus your efforts on.
  1. Identify the key personal and structural biases that might get in your way.
  1. Consider the importance of the Forward-Deployed-Insights (FDI) professional to translate data for you.
  1. Look at the talent you have in your business.
  1. Assess how engaged your employees are and how this can be improved.

Data Leaders members can access the full presentation and further discuss it with their peers here. Interested in becoming a member? Get in touch.

 

THE AUTHOR

Laura Bineviciute

Head of Community and Engagement, Data Leaders

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