Embracing the Change in Digital Experience
As everyone reading this knows, we are living through a period of incredible technological change, where digital experiences and applications of tech are revolutionising how we interact, behave and engage with each other and the world around us. It’s clearly important to understand how these experiences and applications perform, so measurement is key, but more than that, the increase in omnichannel businesses has also led to an explosion of data about customers and how they engage. That means that insight and analysis into behaviour that simply wasn’t possible previously can now be done. This brings its own challenge in that many organisations don’t know what sort of questions can now be answered, or how a company should be structured to make the most out of this influx of information.
I’d like to highlight some ideas about how to make the most of your data and the data science techniques around it, so as a senior leader looking to harness digital you can think about how these might apply to your organisation. And I’d like to address this in three ways – leadership, process, and inspiration.
One of the big challenges with organisations and their ability to innovate and accept technological change is process. Existing processes can be ingrained into how people behave within organisations, which is, of course, the point, but that means when it might be time to review them, or to update them with technology, it can be very difficult for people to take a step back. We have often been asked by clients for advice on best practice processes, which we can provide, only for these best practices to be consciously ignored (“yes, but that won’t work here…”) or for them to be resisted along the way, sometimes by the very people that asked for them in the first place.
People’s resistance to change, especially during a period where it’s so obvious that technological change is everywhere, is understandable. But it can also be the biggest barrier.
To get over this barrier, there is ultimately only one solution – help the people who need to get over it do so. You can help them realise that’s not really a barrier at all, but that can raise the question of why any change is necessary at all. It’s always best to engage the relevant team with the strategic benefits of what might happen – people are much more likely to accept change if they can understand that it is part of a wider strategy, rather than just a one-off activity. This might sound old-fashioned and non-technological, but if you need to take people with you, strategic leadership is really the only way.
The explosion in digital experiences is also driving a proliferation of technologies to deliver, communicate and measure these and these need to be trialled, tested, implemented, and then used to deliver success for the business. However, things move fast – the data science landscape now is very different to a year – or even six months – ago. As such, it’s difficult to deliver success through a traditional waterfall approach. Although implementation and development processes are often now done through defined project methodologies like Agile, which can deliver value much more quickly, it’s rare, still, for the operational phase to be done in that way. In effect, we drift back into a “massive waterfall” approach – how many organisations treat people’s objectives as something that only needs to be addressed once a quarter, or even once a year in the run-up to an appraisal? That means they are simply forgotten or filed until they need to be read again, and no activity really happens, and if it does, it happens far too late to affect any real change.
I’m not saying everything has to be run in an Agile fashion – for several business processes, this wouldn’t be appropriate, and I’m not an Agile “purist” anyway - but taking inspiration from it to embed these rapid delivery practices into your business can both deliver significant impetus and momentum, but also have the knock-on effect of engaging and exciting your team, and get them more amenable to business change (because they are used to achieving tasks within a shorter timeframe).
It’s still early days in the Data Science world; the industry, as we currently know it, is only a few years old. And that means that many of the use cases for how data can be used to solve problems and answer questions in organisations are still being investigated and uncovered. And that means that, right now, often the best thing to do is to speak with, and listen to, others in the industry. It’s often useful to hear stories from completely different industries, because they might have use cases that you hadn’t even thought of; it is not the case that the Data Science industry is siloed into sectors, and that’s a good thing.
So, get out there, and speak, engage and listen. We often host Customer Insight Dinners for select groups, which can be very valuable for mentoring and knowledge sharing across sectors, so if you are interested in those, please get in touch. But the other thing you can do is go to conferences to hear what others are up to.
We at Station10 are excited to announce that we are one of the senior sponsors of the 2018 AI and Big Data Innovation Summit. The event will take place on 31 October and 1 November at the Etc.venues Conference Centre, 8 Fenchurch Place, London, EC3M 4PB.
The event will see industry leaders and innovators come together to discuss a variety of topics, including:
Building a culture of data-driven decision making
Improving customer service through real-time insights
Ethical and compliant big data analytics
Using Big Data analytics for risk management
If you are attending – and I believe it’s reserved for senior leaders for organisations – I hope you find it interesting and do come and visit us at our stand! You can even click here to arrange a meeting.
I hope this has highlighted some approaches to addressing how you can use and understand data science within your organisation to harness the power of the data that you hold. If you are going to the conference, it would be great to see you. If not, please feel free to get in touch and we can come and meet you separately.