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The Andy Show Episode 43

The Andy Show Episode 43

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:00:37] Hello? Oh, I’m live sorry, hello, good afternoon, good afternoon. Good afternoon, Good, good “tugg”. And for those that are a fan of Edison and his telephone. Hello. That was his word. You are here with The Andy Show today. It is Thursday, the 18th of June 2020. The time is now coming up to 12:31. Now I’ve got a very special treat “for you today”, I have not one, but two fantastic guests joining me today from Limitless, I’ve got Megan Neale and from Exasol I have Helena Schwenk. But let’s start. No particular order with our first guest today, we have Megan Neale, the Founder and COO at Limitless. Welcome, Megan.

MEGAN NEALE [00:01:32] Hi, Andy. Hi, everybody. Thanks for having me. Can’t wait to share another bit about Limitless with you on the Andy Show and all your millions of viewers, I’m sure.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:01:42] Yes, yes, yes. I have been absent for the last week or so with my fantastic co-host has been taking care of things. But unfortunately for you, you’ve got me now. But let’s start with Limitless. So Limitless. Who are they? What do they do?

MEGAN NEALE [00:02:01] Oh, wonderful. Thank you so much. Limitless is a gig customer service platform. We are a global business. I’ve been going about 4 years now. And we provide GigCX. So what’s GigCX? It’s the term that’s used to describe how customer service interactions can be answered by a gig crowd of experts. And who are those experts? They can be an enterprises and customers. They can be your internal employees, or they can be other people who have skill sets that you want to tap into. So what we’re doing is just tapping into the amazing world of gig out there, bringing that to customer service. And our platform does all of the heavy lifting.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:02:44] And what about Megan Neale herself?

MEGAN NEALE [00:02:48] Yes. Yeah. I mean, I have spent my entire career in customer service for some reason. I love it. I just love the opportunity to help people. I love the opportunity to help large scale businesses make their customer service better. To me, it is the most important factor in an organisation’s success in terms of their differentiation and their ability to really stay competitive in what is a pretty crazy marketplace out there at the moment. So I spent 20 years building and running large scale operations, having previously run a business and sold it’s business in that space. And then in 2015, decided with my Co-Founder and business partner, who I’ve worked with for 18 years, at that point. You know, we really are joined at the hip, to find a new way to do better customer service. And we were just inspired by what was going on in the normal geek world. You know, TaskRabbit, AirBnB, and Uber. We were inspired by Artificial Intelligence. How is that going to change the world of customer service? Are we gonna need, not “me”, people in call centres anymore? Are we just going to be able to engage with bots and robots? And we were also inspired by the fact that as customers and consumers, we really want to speak that much on the telephone anymore. We actually prefer to do our engagement via apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and digital engagements. And yeah, we just took a year, built a proposition, talked to loads and loads of people, managed to get funding, which is a really new exit for us and our business careers and started Limitless in 2016. Still very much for the passion that we want to improve customer service. But most importantly, reward people more. One of my biggest frustrations and our frustrations as a business was that in a contact centre, you just simply can’t pay people more than minimum wage and actually get the result that we want to get and provide amazing service all of the time. You have to pay more. So our platform strips away all of the wasted cost to enable people to earn more whilst delivering brilliant customer service for the brands that they love.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:05:06] Okay. Excellent. Well, as someone who has is a Founder, I’m going to ask the question I like to ask the Founders. So when you say you said it’s 2016, when you start this out in 2016 to right now, which is 2020 is what you were doing on the first day of 2016, the same as what you’re doing 2020, or what was the evolution like of a start up? I’m always interested to hear anout that.

MEGAN NEALE [00:05:31] And it’s a really great question, actually. And I can honestly say, and perhaps this is just because, you know, a bit of an old dog in the industry. We knew exactly where the problems were that that first vision of the product that we drew up on our whiteboard where we were sharing one desk between 4 of us because we couldn’t afford any office space of our own. And we were literally just, you know, squatting for want of a better word. That product design is the product we have now. And we’ve really brought people along and on the vision. So we have many, many customers who are clients, who are pioneers in this space, who have taken that leap of faith to move from having call centre agents to actually having their own customers answer questions for other customers and get paid per task when they deliver a great job. But the product is exactly the same. So we’ve obviously invested significant amount of money based on the investment that we’ve had and been able to develop an amazing enterprise grade product. You know, it’s live in 25 different countries. Completely scalable for some of the large clients that we’re working with. So we work with amazing people like Microsoft, eBay, Sage, Unilever. You know, these are all really, really large clients who need to have the confidence that our platform can scale for them. But I can honestly say we haven’t had to do with those classic start-up pivots where we thought we had a great idea and that it wasn’t but then we came up with an even better idea. You know, our platform. We knew what the market needed. We just needed to convince them that it’s what they needed. And that’s what their last 4 years has been about, just creating almost a new category of customer service called GigCX.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:07:24] Well, that obviously brings me to my next question. My producers have told me that you published Limitless Reaching, Published 2020 Gig Customer Service Research Report. Now, one of the things I think if we’d be having this conversation maybe 6 months ago, we’d be having a very different conversation. But we’re still in this really kind of in this lockdown and the world is kind of turned on its head. Let’s talk about the gig customer service during this lockdown pandemic. Has it changed?

MEGAN NEALE [00:08:03] Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right to call that out. You know, there’s been a phenomenal shift that we’ve seen in the last 5 to 12 weeks. You know, the movement to digital that’s happened in that period on the previous path that it was on would have taken 5 years, whereas actually we’ve seen a significant shift of people needing to engage in digital foot for either their service or their e-commerce needs to survive. And likewise, we’ve seen a significant shift to people working from home, which most enterprises would never of thought possible. And, you know, there’s this small glimmers of hope that have come out of these most desperate times, you know, moving from a global health pandemic to a global financial pandemic to now, you know, we’re here in a global racial pandemic as well, I truly believe.  And really we have to learn from this. And I do think enterprises are finding a way to adapt quicker than they ever thought possible. The “knee jerk” reaction was very positive for us because, of course, our platform and our crowds of people are already working at home or wherever they are. It’s completely agnostic of your location. And we’ve been able to support our clients at that difficult time. And I think what’s important now is how they recognise that was possible and how they recognise that the gig model can just be a strategic part of their customer service proposition moving forward, aligned to more traditional models. You know, we aren’t saying you wouldn’t need to close your call centres anytime soon. We’re saying that this is an evolution. And for some businesses, it will be a revolution. But we’ve certainly, we’re just thrilled and privileged that we’ve been able to help all of our clients at this tough time.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:09:53] Well, have you designed Limitless to almost been or to be working from home style of company?

MEGAN NEALE [00:10:05] Yeah. More than that, I would say a working from anywhere start-up company, and I think what’s really fascinating about our business, we have, you know, a network of, you know, 4000 plus experts. We call them on the platform. And these are people that have qualified to on the right to support the brands that they love. And they come with a natural passion for the brands they support. But they also must provide evidence that they have the skills and knowledge and capability to provide the customer support. So all of that is managed through the platform. But the beauty is they can do it anywhere. So it’s actually a mobile app as well as a desktop app. So we have a number of our experts who are if they were at work, they’d be doing it maybe in their lunchtime where they’d be doing it on the bus or the train on the way home. One of our clients is National Express, particularly affected by COVID at the moment. But prior to that, most of our experts are regular National Express users who are using the free Wi-Fi on the coaches and earning money, answering customer service tickets. And by the time they get to where they’re going. They’ve paid for that ticket. And it’s a really amazing opportunity that allows the enterprises to almost reward their own customers. It’s a wonderful cycle of happiness and joy that creates loyalty and advocacy and really makes a difference to people’s lives.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:11:34] That is cool. I’m going to do that next time, I’ll take the bus. So let’s look at okay, so my next question would therefore be on personas. So if we had to look at the personas typical people in a gig customer service, what do they care about? What’s the motivations? The research? Like what kind of people?

MEGAN NEALE [00:11:51] Yeah. Yeah. No. Great. Great. I love sharing this type of data. So the Gig CX report, which I’m sure will be available in one of the comments once this is available. It really provides all that information. So we typically see that 75% of our experts have a higher level education, which is phenomenal for us. It’s really about identifying the true skills and capability you can tap into when you realise the world is there for you to take. The personas and the cohorts, as we call them, are typically five fold. So a wonderful group of parents at home who are choosing to focus on their families but want to stay engaged with the working world. We have an amazing group of mature students who we haven’t had much success with the undergrads. If I’m honest, the first year university, they seem more interested in spending their “loans rather the…”. That’s amazing. But by the time their second third year and their master’s, they realise they need to earn some money. So, that’s a phenomenal cohort. We’ve got an amazing group of semi retired and fully retired experts who are very, very passionate. And actually a theme that comes out from the work we do with them is that it really gives them a sense of purpose around the day. And they love helping people. And then the other 2 groups are a commuter group or people who are working in a part time capacity. And then more and more. We are seeing people who are choosing this gig lifestyle coming out of university, recognising that 9 to 5 role is not required for me to do what I love and have a good, steady, regular income and our platform. We don’t say the work should replace your full time work. This is about a top up. People earn between 3 and 5 thousand pounds or the dollar equivalent or wherever they are in the world. On top of their current earning income to support the brands they love. And that’s the special sauce. So really, it’s three things. They do it because they can earn money anywhere, any time on their own terms. They do it because they get a real kick out of helping people. The reason I spent my entire career in customer service is because I like helping people and that makes me get up in the morning. I get a sense of satisfaction from that. And then the third is they they love helping the brands that they really love. You know, it’s a real privilege and an honour for people to support Microsoft and eBay and the lovely Unilever brands, whether it’s Dove, Magnum, Marmite. You know, we support over 250 brands across our platform. And people are very passionate about the brands they spend their money on.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:14:45] Well, that’s an interesting point, because I’ve seen you’ve Microsoft, Unilever, Sage and various other eBay you mentioned. These are very, very big companies and very, very big companies will tend to adapt. They try things. They like it. They continue with it. But I mean, in terms of the type of clients that you’re engaging with, are you seeing that this is translated to the rest of the industry, to medium smaller sized businesses?

MEGAN NEALE [00:15:22] Yes, I think there’s two very important factors. You know, this is still a new way of doing things. And we don’t expect all sectors to adopt it at the same rate. You’ll always find, you know, certain verticals are early adopters either, you know, because they’re just more innovative in their approach or they’d have a different requirement in terms of regulations. So we’re certainly seeing more adoption in the tech space marketplaces like eBay and gaming, as well as a significant rise in the gaming space and the expectation of the consumer to have great support, either in-game or sort of post pre and post purchase. Sectors that are next, but not quite there yet, I’d say would be healthcare and financial services. You know, there’s clearly a significant amount of regulatory compliance required and possibly even government, but still very, very big sectors. We do see this as a sort of medium to large enterprise initiative first, jumps because of the scale of which the amount of money that is spent at the moment in those organisations. This is a trillion dollar business, which is phenomenal. You know, over 100 billion is spent on outsourced contact centres. So, you know, your own experience of contacting sources, you know, wherever they are in the world. It’s a massive, massive market. And those organisations are looking for ways to quite simply do it better, do it cheaper, and we offer a significant saving. Be more agile with a crowd, you can be significantly more agile and also do the right thing by your customer and reward your own communities and customers. And I think luckily we managed to do all of those things, so, you know, we feel very fortunate that we’re able to help both sides of the coin or any.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:17:28] Well, I’m gonna come back to some of the clients that you previously work or you do work with and some of your experiences. But I’m just gonna go back to the gig economy again for a second. So the gig economy, it’s on paper. It sounds sort of like a great idea on in practise. There are pros and cons of it. There are difficulties within it. But I believe you’ve done something called the good gig charter, can tell us about that?

MEGAN NEALE [00:17:57] Yes, certainly. For us, it’s being a gig business was not just about stripping away everything and leaving it with the bare minimum. It was really was about being a business that could champion the fact that gig can do good in the world. And our mission statement as an organisation is actually that we want to empower anyone on the planet and money for providing brilliant support for brands they love. So we have truly global ambitions. But it’s very important to us that it is about passion and love, because that’s really where we feel. That memorable connection that you have with someone who really wants to help you influences your understanding and love of the brand as a customer. So the good gig charter that we’ve created for our business and we hope many others will will adopt it, is that by leveraging gig, we really want people to tap into a global talent pool. Don’t be hindered by your geographic location. Really consider targeting people with the skills you need anywhere in the world. And by doing that, make sure that you have full diversity built into that model. You know, very relevant at the moment about making sure that your organisation, your networks, your ecosystems are fully diverse. So a gig model enables you to have truly and no unconscious bias in onboarding because ultimately you’ll meet people. Largely, it’s all done via digital groups. The most important thing for us is helping vulnerable groups, you know, really being able to target some of the work we do in India with Unilever is about supporting women who are not able to find work and not supported in finding work and working with a large organisation to make that happen. And giving people more freedom. You know, I think part of the challenge with the gig negativity around gig is the fact that it’s perceived to be freedom of choice. But actually, when you peel away the layers there, the freedom is not quite there. So our platform is all about making sure people are fully in control. They never have to do anything they don’t want to, they’re not penalised for doing anyhing. They don’t want to. And therefore improving the well-being of those individuals so they can set their own pace. And the work they do within the platform on their own terms. And most importantly, is rewarding everybody fairly. So really making sure that within the platform, the reward levels are set at the correct level. So actually, they can earn more than if they were sitting in a call centre for 8 hours on a per net hour or minute basis. So we’re very clear on that. That’s at the heart of what we do. And we believe that’s the right way for us to take a stand in the industry and be one of the first to market with these types of propositions, but also grow and scale in the right way to enable our clients to be confident that we’re doing the right thing for their customers.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:20:56] Well, let’s go back to the companies then. If you had to take a couple of salient points and say, why are companies going towards a gig customer service? What is the particularly attuned to?

MEGAN NEALE [00:21:14] Yeah. So I’d say one of the biggest benefits is actually greater agility. I think, again, the last 3 months have shown us that an organisation needs to be prepared for everything. And a traditional bricks and mortar model with very fixed infrastructure and fixed resource just doesn’t give you that elasticity that you need to respond to the demands of your consumers. So a greater elasticity in resource availability, making it a truly global operations. So supporting any country in any language. You know, we can set up new language in days as opposed to weeks in the speed to competency of these resources is phenomenally quick. Our clients are always incredibly amazed how it can take, you know, 4 to 6 weeks to 12 weeks, even in a call centre, train individuals to be ready to go live. Whereas on our platform, because you’re bringing people to the platform with core knowledge and love of the brand. It’s days significantly quicker, but ultimately the benefits come down to three things. So through that elasticity, you get super fast response times. You know, people are available in the crowd and responding very, very quickly. So you never get any backlogs or never long wait times. You know, we’ve all had those experiences. The customer service and CSAT we call it a Customer Satisfaction Score is higher. And that’s because these are individuals that are passionate about what they do. It matters to them, the service that they give. They’re rewarded based on the quality of service that they get on a per task basis. So much like the Uber driver goes out of their way to provide an excellent service to maintain their 5 star rating, much like the eBay seller goes out of their way to make sure they describe an article correctly and post it to you in time, well packaged to maintain their rating. It’s those marketplace dynamics and gig model that means that this is a scalable platform. And then the third thing really is around making sure we save our clients money so we reward people more for the work that they’re doing, but save a significant amount of money for the enterprise so they can do one of two things, either take that saving or reinvest it in their existing contact centre operations so they can really, truly reward people fairly for the work they’re doing and provide an excellent service throughout the whole customer service lifecycle.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:23:41] All right. Well, excellent. Well, my final question to you. You’ve been working in customer service for many, many years, for most of your career. So I ask you two things on that with your knowledge of the area. Number one is the more surprising changes that you’ve seen during your time. And number two, I’m gonna ask you to be to predict the future, to be Mystic Megan. And tell me what you think the future holds.

MEGAN NEALE [00:24:13] Okay, I. My answer to the first question is actually going to be not what I think has changed, but what I think has not changed. If that’s okay, only because I think now more than ever, people need people to feel connected, to feel trusted, to feel supported. And I think enterprises that can build service ecosystems where they enable that at scale are the ones that will succeed. Enterprises that choose to go down the fully automated route or make it very difficult for a customer to engage with them will struggle, in my view. So I think that’s the running thread. We are humans. We are social animals. Even though there may be an answer on the self-service page, the fact that I feel like I need to contact the organisation to get that reassurance is still there. And actually the volume of engagement coming into these organisations is growing, not reducing year on year, because consumers need more engagement with the brands and expect more engagement with the brands. So that one to one relationship, I think is as important now as it ever has been going back hundreds of years. And I genuinely don’t think that will ever change. And I think that what does the future hold? I think the future holds the use of technology that will enable that at scale at a price point that can work for the organisation. So leveraging Artificial Intelligence not to replace humans, but leveraging artificial intelligence to support humans to be the best that they can possibly be and make those moments truly memorable so that we all have an easy, frictionless life in terms of the way in which we engage with brands. It should never you should never wake up in the morning. Think you have to call your bank and just have a sigh of relief and this thing. I’m going to put it off. My goal is to wake everyone to wake up in the morning, realise they’ve got to call their bank and go. I’m going to do that. It’s super easy and I’m going to enjoy the experience.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:26:20] It’s just as a final thought. It’s amazed me how much technology is come on in the last years. And I do question whether or not the current lockdown would have been so… I don’t want to say easy, but so available for businesses to keep going. Had it not been for the leaps and bounds of recent technology of everything from VoIP to stable home Internet connections most of the time. To video conferencing to do things like this. So it’s been a tremendous change. And I could see that only going up and up and up as time goes by to more. It doesn’t really matter where you are. You can you can work. We have the infrastructure. Well Megan, it has been an absolute pleasure having you on. Thank you for talking to us. I will just ask you one last thing. What’s on the wall behind you?

MEGAN NEALE [00:27:15] You know, I actually don’t know, I’m at my sister’s house and I think they are racing cars.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:27:24] We love your racing cars.

MEGAN NEALE [00:27:27] Take care.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:27:28] Thank you. Megan Neale, Founder and COO of Limitless. Thank you so much. You are watching The Andy Show. The time is now coming up to 12:58 on the 18th of June 2020. Remember, you can well, you probably are watching us on a LinkedIn, on our Twitter, @DisruptiveLIVE. Use the #DisruptiveLIVE, Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube and our website, we are everywhere now. We’re gonna start talking some analytics here, which I really look forward to. It is my absolute pleasure to be joined by my next guest. Helena Schwenk of the AR and Market Intelligence Lead at Exasol. Welcome.

HELENA SCHWENK [00:28:11] Thanks very much, Andy. Hello, everyone. Good afternoon. Thanks for having me.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:28:17] All right. It’s a pleasure. We’re very, very excited to hear about data, particularly at the moment, data’s become such a big thing. But let’s start at the beginning, Exasol. Who’s Exasol? And who is Helena?

HELENA SCHWENK [00:28:35] Well, what a great place to start. So, Exasol is a technology company where an analytics database. And essentially we provide a modern database that is extremely powerful, very fast, but also highly scalable and flexible. And our mission really is to help our customers make the most of their data, to leverage it fully. And to maximise its value by getting the insights they need from that data when they need it to help them stay ahead in the market. Also ahead of the competition. So that’s the sort of brief overview affects us all. So in terms of introducing myself. Yeah, I’m the AR Intelligence Lead at Exasol. So I’m based out of London here in the U.K. and what that effectively means is I spend a lot of my time working with data. So I like to think I’m fairly data driven myself. But it was a lot of time researching either accessing market research, analyst research, but also at times performing our own market research here at Exasol. And I and the team leveraged that sort of collective knowledge and insights to keep on the functions with Exasol whether it’s marketing, sales, product management fully connects it to our customers, to partly communities, as well as to the sort of wider industry and market landscape.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:30:35] Well Helen, I’m gonna see the first question, because for our viewers at home, I get the Market Intelligence Lead at Exasol. So what does the AR mean?

HELENA SCHWENK [00:30:46] Yes, that’s Analyst Relations. So I’ve been with Exasol for about 18 months now. Prior to that, I spent 18 years as an Industry Analyst. So very much tracking and observing the market. And I’m using those sort of skills and expertise, but within Exasol and managing how we communicate and work with analysts communities ourselves. That’s the AR side. But I suppose in this capacity I’m here sort of limiting my market intelligence and feeding back what we’re seeing in the market to you and your audience.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:31:25] Okay, well, then I’m going to hit you with the straight away with a really difficult one. Coherent. Let me talk about data and analytics strategy. They need to be, unlike this question. They need to be coherent. Why is that important to businesses?

HELENA SCHWENK [00:31:44] It’s a very, you know? Good question. And I suppose the simple answer is that organisations want to maximise the value that they get from from data. So a data strategy really is all about articulate to the organisation and beyond how data is managed, how it’s interpreted and how it’s used. So that that organisation can make more informed decisions to deliver better business outcomes. Think about business outcomes that could be anything from delivering better customer experiences and whether it’s about using data to deliver new revenue streams, whether it’s about harnessing data to help the organisation reduce costs or mitigate risk. But I also think an important part of the data strategy is making sure that the organisation has the right practises, the right culture and competencies in place to really ensure that the data strategy can work. It can really sane. So that is, I suppose, in a nutshell, what’s important to businesses, but we also know, from a lot of the research that we’re doing, that isn’t necessarily easy. So we’ve performed some of our own research and we saw evidence of this. In the fact that only a third of data teams who are involved in data and analytics projects could extract all the insights they needed from the data and very much in those sorts of instances that they’re struggling because the data strategy and you know that this sort of data culture that underpins that has not been sort of firmly established and communicated from the start. So in those occasions sometimes it’s an afterthought. Sometimes, you know, organisations have tried, but ultimately not succeeded in implementing that data strategy across the organisation. So there has to be sort of an execution element to the data strategy as well. I think that’s really important.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:34:27] Okay, so let’s assume that I’m a dummy. Let’s assume I don’t know very much but I’ve got an organisation. I am about to hire a Chief Data Officer. I don’t really know, kinda of “blag” in it. I phoned you up. Could you would help me here. What is a robust data strategy? Can you give us some tips, like to help me out.

HELENA SCHWENK [00:34:49] Yeah. So first of all, I’d never call you a dummy Andy. I think it’s a very good question. And I believe there are several parts missing. And this is perhaps where things may go skinny for some some organisations. I think firstly, there’s a vision part. You know, this is about how your organisation is really going to drive a competitive edge and advantage from the data that I have. And I think this is really important, but even more so in today’s, you know, environment. What’s happened over the last 3 months or so? Organisations insures, resilience in their business, you know, with that surrounds, you know, their supply chains. They also need to understand changing customer patterns, changing customer behaviour, and they also need to better manage the costs. All of those are elements that particularly persons at the moment. So it’s about understanding what the vision is. I think the other element to this, not surprisingly, there’s a technology element. So what are the platforms, the tools, the applications, the outcomes that enables that vision? I’m part of this is about establishing that data platform and the analytics capabilities that you want to deliver on, in order to deliver insights at scale. And then another part of this is about governance. It is about looking after things, is about creating a foundation of trusted data for the organisation, taking into account all of those things you would expect when looking after data, whether it’s around its privacy, whether it’s around, you know, ethics of using data, the availability of data, as well as ensuring that it’s secure. And then lastly, I would definitely say in terms of the sort of component parts of people elements today. So people need to be at the heart of your data strategy. And this is all about the culture of this sort of competencies in the proven practises that can make that data strategy success. But we also think that it needs to recognise employees concerns around data, and the use of data. So it’s really about placing the human at the centre of that as well. And this is very much came out and some of, you know, all research that indicated that around 2/3 of data teams recognised there was a little bit of resistance to how employees leverage data and adopts data and methods. And, you know, of those, some of the reasons behind that is lack of education, a lack of education, about the positive impacts that data can bring to the individual, and that team, and that organisation. So it’s important to remember that you need to bring people along with your vision. That’s really, really important. And they understand what their role is this within that vision as well.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:38:33] Okay. So that sounds lovely. But let me just say, let’s go back to I’m an organisation and I know all this data stuff. I pick up my data. I try and do something with it. And I fall straight into the Heffalump trap. It’s been a disaster. What are the traps that that people? What companies keep falling into when they’re trying to put together a coherent data strategy?

HELENA SCHWENK [00:39:02] Yeah. Probably wouldn’t use the term trap necessarily does sounds a little bit premeditated. So I suppos that definitely challenges. There’s different issues and there’s probably some common mistakes that organisations make. I mean, society that’s one of the common areas that we see is an over reliance on certain key individuals, certain key experts within the organisation where sort of being able to manage and exploit that data is left to a handful of people. Let’s say some of the booths that might be, you know, data scientist and it might be a business intelligence analyst. It may be a data engineer. A model it’s exceptionally good to have these experts on these skills within your organisation. And it’s probably good for their career as well. It can really provide a bit of a road to giving more or more people access. A bit of a “both”, you know, to data democratisation, so really scale your initiative. You need more inclusive ways of working. We’ll cross missional working where skills and talent rely on a wider pool of people who are data literate as well. And I think it’s interesting, really, that diversity can play an important role here, too. Since, you know, people come with different backgrounds, different views, different attitudes that can all feed into more creative and innovative ways of using data. So that’s the first sort of area that we see. The second one, which is actually surprisingly common, is that there there is a disconnect between the data strategy and the business outcomes that looking to deliver on. So, you know, data people, as I mentioned, may be sort of relegated to a handful of people in the organisation or you know a silo within the organisation. And they may be responsible for, you know, building and turning reports and dashboards and metrics. But there isn’t a clear line of sight training. Doesn’t necessarily tie back that information and the use of that information to some of the organisation’s strategic goals and outcomes. And that’s where the gap lies, because it’s so much harder to prove the value of data and the investments, just the return on the investments you have made if there isn’t a way of connecting the dots, you know. So also, any data strategy needs to be aligned with business outcomes as well. And the final sort of I suppose that challenge or mistake that is made is that for the best reasons, but sometimes organisations put technology choices first. They make decisions on technology. They make a decision on the platforms of the deployment models before they think about, you know, gaining a really deep standing and agreement on that data strategy. So this is the wrong way around. It’s a bit sort of topsy turvy. And it should be the strategy that really informs the technology and the deployment choices that an organisation makes. And that’s really important.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:43:14] Yeah, that’s an interesting point. I never thought about who would actually spearhead these things, because some organisations, especially large organisations, they may have a Chief Data Officer now, there’s a CIO, there’s a CTO who might be doing things, would have been in your experiences best to spearhead this?

HELENA SCHWENK [00:43:34] Yeah. So this is really topical at the moment because I see CDO, Chief Data Officers are relatively new appointment on the sort of landscape that we’re seeing. And it’s definitely is an indicator that that organisation is thinking strategically about that use of data using it to deliver value. I should also say that most people focus around CDO and that title in particular, but it may not necessarily be the title that certain organisations use. So that might be the Chief Analytics Officer as well. I know one of our customers who is incredibly, data driven has an SVP of Data Science and Machine Learning. You know, the common thread here is that they’re a senior executive and leader within the organisation, and that’s really important. And the goals relate the concept around creating that role is broadly the same. So it’s all about effectively managing, securing and exploiting data for the benefit of the business. I would also say that one of the reasons why, you know, there’s been the creation of this position and let’s just call it the CDO for the time being, is the tie to digitalisation, because if organisations are to successfully digitally transform. They also needs to be a clear understanding of data and dated role. And how organisations can really leverage it. Whether that’s about using it to build better products and services, whether that’s about enabling new business models, whether that’s about increasing efficiency, maybe through automation, for example. And I thought it was interesting, the research that I’m doing that’s KPMG believes that businesses with a CDO are twice as likely to have sort of crystalise and have a clear digital strategy. So I think the two initiatives are very interlinked in organisations that are looking to digitally transform.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:46:18] So let’s jump ahead 6 months. Let’s say I conducted you and I don’t know. I really need some help doing this. And now I’ve got this fantastic robust data strategy and it’s all good. What’s the immediate business wide benefit that I would probably start to see from the beginning?

HELENA SCHWENK [00:46:39] Yeah. So I think it’s important to state, actually, that those business benefits, those success measures depend on what type of CDO an organisation has really. So, for example, some CDOs have been very much focussed on activities for governance. Some data quality and securing that data and these are actually hard to measure. However, we also see that the CDO role is evolving. And, you know, CDO is now taking on responsibility for growth activities. And this is very much tied in with that sort of digitalisation initiative and efforts such as improving the customer experience or driving inovative disruption, no lose benefit. Those success measures are perhaps easier to measure as well. But all the evidence and research that I look at suggests there is this relationship between delivering benefits to the business and the appointment of a CDO. So Forester, for example, had said that a CDO is present within 90% of companies that are systematically harnessing data to improve that differentiation. So what that means is that they’re successfully using data to drive an advantage in the market. And indeed, they also say that growth companies. So organisations that report higher annual revenue growth are much more likely to appoint a CDO.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:48:43] Well. Really, I want to come back to that in a second, but I’ve got this big in my head. I keep hearing this term, I hope I could pronounce it data democrati.. democratisation. What is this data democratisation?

HELENA SCHWENK [00:49:01] Well, I suppose it is a term that the industry is setting again on, although you know, it’s sometimes quite hard to say. But it refers to, you know, as you would expect, opening up data access, really. That’s the democratisation part to all employees across the organisation. Not necessarily just putting it in the handful of a few. So, only those that are in data or I.T. related roles, for example. So it’s all, it’s really about empowering employees to use and make decisions based on data. And what another term for you here is what is also known as self service. And I think there’s some really good examples of this. So “Revoluts” is one of the U.K. challenge banks and also a customer invents to “sell”, is a great example. They employ around 16000 people and they’re extremely data driven as a company. And they really believe in opening up access to data, you know. They pull up that provide a complete range of dashboards of metrix and information that’s highly visible and relevant and accessible to their employees to help them support an informed decision making in their daily work, whether that’s the H.R. department, whether that’s the I.T. department or the sales or whoever. And I suppose the virtue of data democratisation and it goes back to one of my earlier points really. Is it really does help demonstrate the value that data can bring and help, you know, Bonynge that wider data strategy. Because if employers can say how data is helping them do their jobs better, then they can see the value. And I can also see the impact that they’re making in contribution to the organisation as well. So this idea of data democratisation really helping imbue a positive culture, I think is a positive thing. And, you know cirtical for an organization’s long term success.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:51:32] Fascinating. One final question, Helena and then I’m out of time. We spoke about CDOs. We spoke about data scientist. But what are the things is the I.T. infrastructure, does existing I.T. infrastructure calls challenges at any point during this?

HELENA SCHWENK [00:51:52] Yeah. So definitely in terms of, you know, if we look at organisations moving towards opening up access to data and democratising access to data, our survey suggests that 4 out of 5 respondents, you know, find a challenge with the current I.T. infrastructure and perhaps providing a road to democratising data access. You know, lots of organisation.

ANDREW MCLEAN [00:52:31] I think I’ve actually lost her. Yes, I think I managed to lose Helen on the last question. Oh, no. She’s back. No, she got away. She’s coming back. Nope. Okay. I think we’ve lost it. That was that was just the wrap up question. So, yeah, we were just talking about data, about robust, how important data is for keeping things going, keeping have good data, but also have the right structure within your organisation. We spoke about the Chief Data Officer, which is actually a new term for me and analytics officers and CTOs. But that was Helena Schwenk, the AR Market Intelligence Leader of Exasol. So you have been watching The Andy Show. Thank you for joining us. Time is just coming up to 1:24. And until tomorrow. I’ll see you soon.