Digital Analytics and Optimisation: An interview with a superstar DJ

With Adobe Sum­mit EMEA fast approach­ing, I took time out for a dis­cus­sion with one of the repeat pre­sen­ters in the Per­son­al­i­sa­tion & Opti­mi­sa­tion track – Giles Richard­son, Head of Ana­lyt­ics at Roy­al Bank of Scot­land (RBS) – about what he’s been involved with over the last year and what we can expect from his ses­sions at this year’s event.

Jamie: So Giles it’s been a busy year for you – I under­stand that you were a final­ist in the recent Dig­i­tal Ana­lyt­ics Asso­ci­a­tion Awards – can you tell us about the nom­i­na­tion and how you got on?

Giles: Yes that’s right – I was nom­i­nat­ed in the cat­e­go­ry for the work we’ve been doing to rev­o­lu­tionise the way that RBS think about opti­mi­sa­tion from an organ­i­sa­tion­al per­spec­tive. Over the last year, my team and I have been able help shift the way in which the organ­i­sa­tion approach­es data-dri­ven opti­mi­sa­tion. We’d shown some dra­mat­ic improve­ments through some data-dri­ven proofs of con­cept, but we need­ed some cre­ative think­ing to make sure that the busi­ness bought in to the concept.

Jamie: So what was the answer?

Giles: Well, we launched a pro­gram at called ‘Super­star DJs’. Instead of keep­ing ana­lyt­ics and test and learn tools among a select group of ana­lysts, we decid­ed to dis­trib­ute this to 50 dig­i­tal ‘Jour­ney man­agers’ who between them man­age the whole dig­i­tal expe­ri­ence. Build­ing on a flex­i­ble ana­lyt­ics imple­men­ta­tion via a tag man­age­ment sys­tem each Jour­ney man­ag­er has live dash­boards show­ing exact­ly what was going on in their area. This allows the mar­keter to see which part of the dig­i­tal jour­ney cre­ates a strug­gle for cus­tomers, and also allows them to set up a test to see if they can resolve it. Most impor­tant­ly, they are trained and sup­port­ed to do this themselves.

Jamie: Why did you decide to call the pro­gram Super­star DJs?

Giles: The name came about because we used the theme of a top DJ feel­ing con­nect­ed to the audi­ence he was play­ing to, and gaug­ing what they need­ed. He would exper­i­ment with new con­tent and instant­ly see if it was going down well. If it wasn’t he would change it almost instant­ly. He was cog­ni­tive that audi­ences change depend­ing on where they come from and over time. Most impor­tant­ly he had the tools and the skill to do it all him­self. Now we have 50 Super­star DJs who enjoyed the fun of the pro­gram, the music, the crazy updates, the bill­board charts, the gold disk awards and the bank execs get­ting involved with tests. So much so in fact, that they bare­ly noticed they were chang­ing their way of work­ing forever.

Jamie: And can you talk about some of the results you’ve seen from this work?

Giles: I’m real­ly pleased to be able to share the results — the pro­gram allowed RBS to go from three opti­mi­sa­tion tests in the first nine months of 2014, to sevn­ty by end of year, have fifty plus peo­ple work­ing on it as an inte­gral part of their day job, and gen­er­at­ed over £1m already in extra rev­enue. Per­haps more impor­tant­ly, we’ve moved away from the fire­work approach and now we only change some­thing when it is seem to be a strug­gle for a cus­tomer, we mea­sure if it fixed it and if not it gets backed out and we don’t cel­e­brate launch­es – only cus­tomer impacts.

Jamie: This sounds real­ly inter­est­ing Giles – I hope after all this you’re going to be cov­er­ing some of the Super­star DJ work in your ses­sion at Sum­mit? What can peo­ple expect?

Giles: Well in Ses­sion PO9 “Cre­at­ing your opti­mi­sa­tion super­hero team“ on Wednes­day 30th April, I’m going to be par­tic­i­pat­ing in an inter­ac­tive ses­sion with Kevin Lind­say, the Direc­tor of Prod­uct Mar­ket­ing for Adobe Tar­get. We’re going to be going over the four fun­da­men­tal things that each of the atten­dees should be address­ing if they want to get their com­pa­ny to sit up and take note of the opti­mi­sa­tion team and its goals. I don’t want to say too much about the for­mat of the ses­sion but atten­dees should expect engag­ing con­tent and also the chance to dis­cuss with their peers in an open envi­ron­ment, some of the issues they are fac­ing and also to get some answers to some of these opti­mi­sa­tion chal­lenges. I should men­tion that I’m also speak­ing in anoth­er ses­sion at Summit…

Jamie: That’s right, your ses­sion on ana­lyt­ics-dri­ven opti­mi­sa­tion was so pop­u­lar last year that we’ve got you back for two ses­sions this year! Do you con­sid­er these break­outs and evo­lu­tion of what you talked about last year?

Giles: Absolute­ly and I’m real­ly look­ing for­ward to it. I enjoy pre­sent­ing but I also find Sum­mit a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet with oth­er dig­i­tal mar­keters and dis­cuss chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties that we’re all fac­ing. As well as the ses­sion we’ve just been talk­ing about, in PO9 “Dia­monds in the rough: Pow­er­ing up the machine to find your mar­ket­ing gems”, I’m going to be cov­er­ing an exten­sion of this pro­gram involv­ing auto­mat­ed per­son­al­i­sa­tion and machine learn­ing – where we’re let­ting Adobe Tar­get Pre­mi­um use the data to make some of deci­sions for us.

Jamie: Thanks Giles – so I’m expect­ing ses­sions PO7 and PO9 to be very pop­u­lar. This is the first year that we’ve intro­duced pre-reg­is­tra­tion for the ses­sions so I’ll let you know how you’re get­ting on in the pop­u­lar­i­ty stakes! And for any­one read­ing this who’s attend­ing Sum­mit, I encour­age you to reg­is­ter for Giles’s ses­sions here now: . Oh and one last thing Giles – how did you get on with the DAA Award?

Giles: Well I was a run­ner up in the cat­e­go­ry. It was great to be con­sid­ered for the award and I’m hop­ing that with what we’ve got planned at the bank this year, I’ll be in the run­ning again next time.