July 30, 2016

How to reboot your thinking after a summer vacation

By Paul Laughlin

reboot your thinkingDo you have plans for events to attend this autumn? Are they ones that will help you stay on top of the developments in Customer Insight broadly, or Data & Analytics in particular? How will you reboot your thinking after a relaxing break in the sun?

If you don’t yet have plans for that ‘back to school‘ time, after summer holidays, we can help.

Customer Insight Leader is going to be looking closer at some of the most interesting events, coming up later this year.

To start with, I’m going to review some material available from the Data Insight Leaders Summit.

This event is on 12-13 October, in the attractive venue of Barcelona. Further details can be found here & we’ll share more detail in coming weeks. In the interests of disclosure I should say I will be chairing Day 2 of this event (because it looked so interesting):

Data Leaders Summit Europe 2021 | Europe’s Data Conference

Data Leaders Summit Europe gathers Chief Data Officers, Chief Analytics Officers and Chief Data Scientists from Europe’s largest companies. Learn how to build a scalable end-to-end data strategy that delivers on business transformation goals and unlocks greater ROI at THE meeting place to benchmark your people, processes and technology with the best in Europe.

In a previous post, we mentioned the benefit that can be gained these days from all the pre-event content marketing produced by such conferences. This Data Insight Leaders Summit is no exception. The first to hit our InBox is a report sharing the findings of research they’ve completed, capturing the view of 100 Head of Data/Analytics/DataScience globally. The sample is dominated by UK, Germany & Nordic countries and usefully includes a strong representation from Insurance (24%) & Finance Services (another 18%).

They summarise the results in three sections, following the structure below. Here are the highlights that struck me as interesting:

Data Challenges & Organisational Structure

As well as some interesting, but often published, details on the most common challenges faced by Data leaders, there were two findings in this section that were illuminating.

First is the current status of using data to generate value. As you can see from the graph below, most leaders are generating a return. What isn’t shared so often, is that the areas where they are managing to generate revenue are ‘improving profit margins on current products & services’ or ‘retaining & increasing the customer base’.

thinking rebooted

Not a huge surprise, but it confirms two areas where I’ve also seen analytics/insight teams have early success. Others I would cite are reducing marketing cost to acquire & guiding design of new propositions.

The second interesting finding in this section, related to a question I am asked nearly as often as ‘How do you make money out of insight?’ That is, ‘How should you structure insight teams?’ My own experience is that both centralised & federated models can work well (provided not put in IT), depending on organisational fit & their results bear that out. Here are the answers when leaders were asked, is your data function centralised or de-centralised?

reboot your thinking

Growth & Investment

In this section, the questions focus on investment in tools, more people, communication & support for data projects.

With regards to investing in tools for data/insight teams, it’s interesting to see that the majority of need is still in the area of analytics tools. Here is where leaders voted to invest over the next 12 months:

reboot your thinking

Less surprising, but certainly backed up by my experience, is that most data insight leaders face significant communication challenges. It can be dispiriting struggling to get the message across to leaders throughout your business. But such cultural change work is vital. Here is how they currently diagnosed their communication challenges:

thinking rebooted

Talent Acquisition

One of our most popular posts, of all time, was on the topic of how to recruit & retain the analysts you need. So, it’s very relevant for the last section of this report to cover this topic.

Surprisingly the majority of leaders (52%) do not struggle to recruit the data scientists they need. So, perhaps the ‘talent gap’ is being closed by all the focus on Data Science courses by universities. However, given the hype & expectations set for these graduates, I suspect the battle to retain them is only just beginning.

Most leaders still planned to grow their ‘Data Science‘ teams (which is hopefully a continued focus on useful analytics more broadly not just this trendy specialism). Here is how leaders answered when asked, are you planning to grow the size of your data science team?

reboot your thinking

The barrier identified as more of a problem than lack of data scientists is legacy systems. This is also confirmed by the majority of my clients. Once corporations grow to a certain size, including by mergers & acquisitions, it seems they are doomed to have a millstone of legacy systems holding back their progress. When asked if legacy systems are holding back their ability to run advanced analytics, here are the results:

reboot your thinking

That said, I know many of these firms still find ways to innovate & even encourage ‘start up’ culture within some teams. Customer Insight is not constrained by technology, especially if data scientists & analysts can be given the access to pull together the data lakes they need to start experimenting.

Get your copy & see you there

Anyway, I hope sharing those results was useful. This short report is well worth reading, as the answers strike me as much more realistic, practical & up-to-date than many such surveys.

You can get your own copy of the full report here:

Challenges In Data Analytics

The role of data within organisations has transformed from just a ‘nice to have’ to a strategic revenue generating asset. In order to do this, data analysts are expected to provide actionable insights that can help to shape company strategy and influence the decision making process.

Enjoy that and perhaps I will see you at the Data Leaders Summit in Barcelona? As promised, before the 12 October, I will share more of what to expect. After the 13 October, I’ll blog on what I learnt from the event.

Enjoy your summer & the Olympics in the meantime.