Analytics Democratization — Putting Extraordinary Possibilities Into Everyone’s Hands

by John Bates

posted on 04-24-2017

“Often, within big organizations, the number of people who truly understand what’s going on with the customer base is very, very small—there are two or three guys in the corner of the room.” ~ Giles Richardson, head of analytics, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)

After realizing this tendency, Richardson took action. His vision was to empower every member of his organization — from board members to marketing managers and everyone in between — to gain real-time insights into customers’ wants and needs and then pair those insights with actions to improve customers’ experiences. So, using a music-production theme, he created the brand’s infamous analytics program — complete with Superstar DJs, Producers, and Guest DJs as well as prizes, contests, and even billboards to track and celebrate performances. The goal was to democratize the power of analytics, allowing people from all levels of the organization to use analytics to improve the customer experience.

RBS Achieves a Winning Performance Using These Two Simple Rules.
The secret to success in Richardson’s program lies in two simple rules: (1) everyone must be involved, and (2) one action must be paired with every insight surfaced. As a result, Richardson’s program evolved into an organization-wide, concerted effort to improve the customer experience. “Within seconds—within milliseconds—our DJs know if their content’s working or not,” Richardson explains. Then — just as music DJs will not only “experiment with new content and instantly see if it [is] going down well,” but also “change it almost instantly” when it’s not — RBS’s Superstar DJs have learned to do the same — and have the skills to do it all themselves.

“Through clever use of data and automatic optimizations,” says Richardson, “we’re going to see people that are able to do things that they used to have to reach out to specialized agencies to achieve” — things like increase loan conversions by 20 percent and reduce mobile loan-application completion time from days to mere minutes.

Empower Your Organization: Democratize Your Analytics Programs.
Becoming a true experience business in which insight empowerment is valued is a lofty challenge — but one the Royal Bank of Scotland faced head-on. They disrupted the status quo of their organization and, in doing so, created a bold new vision. RBS created an environment in which every player has a chance to unleash the power of data. Silos disappeared, data was connected and controlled, and true insight empowerment occurred. Following are six steps that RBS took to unleash the power of democratized analytics in their organization — and you can, too.

1. Rehearsing for a Winning Performance — Assess Your Analytics Maturity.
Brands must not expect everyone within their organization to be analytics experts. At RBS, Producers were seasoned analysts; and RBS recognized that — if paired with the right supporting tools — they could help democratize the company’s analytics via experience-based training programs. In doing so, Producers remained responsible for the more complex tasks, while Superstar DJs manned their own posts, surfacing less-complex insights and pairing them with small actions that moved the needle in big ways.

To begin this process, RBS assessed who had the most experience and skills in the realm of data analysis and optimization. Then, they placed dashboards and other supports in place to allow less experienced DJs to try their hands at analytics on a more intuitive basis.

Likewise, brands must both assess and work to improve their own analytics maturity. It’s helpful if brands can imagine analytics as a mountain with both technical ascents and easy hikes. Near the summit — where the data scientists and hardcore analysts will undoubtedly climb to — you’ll have machine learning, predictive algorithms, and data science. At the base — where the analytically green will be ambling around — you’ll find easy-to-interpret, drag-and-drop visualizations, dashboards, and breakdown tables. By being realistic about which members need more support and which can fend for themselves in the analytics wilderness, and then training team members to use the supports that facilitate their roles, companies can get everyone on board with moving the brand closer to meeting business goals.

2. Mastering the Climb — Evangelize the Executive.
Without executive sponsorship, any program is doomed to stagnation. For this reason, many organization-wide analytics programs are struggling. Only 51 percent of respondents reported having C-level or VP-level executive sponsorship for their digital analytics programs. RBS resolved this by allowing everyone to be involved from the very beginning. Analytics training was implemented across the board — even for key stakeholders such as board members. By allowing even company executives to make the program and its results their own, buy-in was more likely to follow.

Next, RBS evangelized every win — especially the big ones. Billboard charts were set up at the end of each week to ignite friendly rivalry. There were Gold Disk presentations for genius-optimization work, and Diamante headphones were awarded when employees reached the Superstar DJ level. RBS knew how to get everyone on board by celebrating every win in a very public way, creating deeper buy-in with each passing week.

In your own organization, take every opportunity to bring more stakeholders on board and evangelize the value of your program. With hands-on involvement and continual celebration, you can demonstrate how democratizing analytics leads to the cross-pollination of ideas and actions across the organization. Show how the goals of a particular team give support to the overall goals of the organization.

3. Ensuring a Concerted Effort — Address Accountability.
Without accountability, democratized analytics is an illusion. Transparency keeps people up to speed on strategy, and knowing who is working on what prevents testing overlap. Accountability also creates a culture of shared responsibilities. Set clear expectations, clarify roles, and empower individuals to use data to make decisions and put ideas into action.

At RBS, each DJ — or journey manager — is responsible for a particular stage in the customer journey. To coincide with this, each DJ’s analytics dashboard shows real-time data regarding how customers interact with the brand at these junctures. Using data that they’ve gleaned from their dashboards, each DJ can test and optimize to ensure his or her point in the customer journey is performing well. And, when an insight is surfaced from the testing process, DJs are required to pair the insight with an action to improve the customer experience. This system prevents overlap of responsibility among DJs and empowers each DJ to continually improve on performance.

Next, to promote transparency — and, therefore, accountability — these dashboards are shared with all areas of the company in real-time, allowing everyone in the company to not only be aware of underperforming areas in the customer journey, but also celebrate wins in each area.

4. Keeping the Team in Tune — Communicate Strategic Aim.
Ensuring that everyone is well aware of the company strategy allows for tests and actions that are in alignment with key performance indicators (KPIs). Strategies may need to be adjusted if (and when) data points go in a different direction and alienate the company from reaching agreed-upon business goals.

RBS’s loan applications were well developed to further their KPI of successfully completing loan applications. However, let’s say someone suddenly realized that customers were falling off within two minutes of beginning their web-based loan applications. The DJ responsible for that juncture in the customer journey could test for an optimal timeframe and adjust the design of the application so that applicants would finish before reaching this two-minute danger zone. In this case, the initial design and length of the application would be what hindered RBS’s ability to reach their loan application-completion KPIs, but testing would allow them to pivot their loan-application strategy to better meet business goals.

5. Upstaging the Competition — Align Your Analytics.
Sadly, only 15 percent of Adobe survey respondents felt their business needs were matched by their digital-analytics report, while 10 percent viewed their current digital data as irrelevant. Aligning business needs and analytics reporting is key to allowing everyone on your team to find opportunities for testing and optimization that truly help your business build stronger results.

For example, to ensure their analytics program met their business needs, RBS first identified their need to improve the customer experience at all touchpoints. Then, by equipping each DJ with an analytics dashboard that pertained to a portion of the customer journey, their analytics reports aligned with and empowered team members to advance the company toward their ultimate goal of providing an exceptional customer experience. Team members could test and optimize customer interactions at every touchpoint, creating a holistic improvement of the customer experience across the board.

6. Setting the Stage for Future Success — Inspire Everyone to Produce Music.
RBS knows that memorable music tells stories. As a result, their weekly genius-optimization presentations allow Superstar DJs to tell data stories, translating meaningless numbers into hero stories. By presenting linear stories via visual presentations about the optimization process, DJs relate the challenges they faced, how they overcame them, and how the customer journey was improved for target consumers. In doing so, the brand can stay on the same page regarding where wins were achieved and how. Further, through these memorable optimization stories, DJs allow others to glean insights they can apply to ultimately compose and tell their own genius-optimization stories in future meetings.

Likewise, in your organization, a massive influx of data and democratized analytics through which anyone can pull insights requires translating information into something meaningful. Storytelling is a great way to do this. Those who hold raw data should be challenged to tell great stories. To do this, inspire everyone to move past the dashboard to tell their data stories, embedding data into meaning that drives future-focused and on-point actions.

In Sum — It’s all About Creating an Optimization-Centered Environment.
As organizations shift from old-school data dictatorships to analytics democracies, intuition-driven marketing is giving way to data-driven decision-making based on real-time insights. Usher in a new era of ease by creating an environment in which people can both learn and act upon their insights; teams can solve age-old problems in new, innovative ways; and people all across your organization can feel empowered to create consistent customer experiences. Do this, and just like RBS, you will put extraordinary possibilities into the hands of anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Learn more about how to democratize the power of analytics in your organization. Download our whitepaper, The Extraordinary Possibility: Bringing the Power of Analytics to Everyone on Your Team.

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