September 28, 2016

Say no to a Data Scientist, in a festival of webinars

By Paul Laughlin

webinarIt was a pleasure, yesterday, to take part in the latest Directors’ Club ‘festival of webinars’.

This intriguingly entitled event spans 12 days, with an hour-long webinar each day. Each webinar includes two speakers, under the theme for the festival, which is: “Champions & Innovators of Customer Experience“.

Given that title, I was honoured to be asked to take part. Jon Snow, founder of Directors’ Club, has assembled a great list of participants including CX leaders from BP, Barclays, Atom Bank & The Post Office.

It was also good to see another of our guest bloggers, Gerry Brown share some of his wisdom on Day 3. His talk on “The power behind the phone – Reconnecting the front line, turning up their performance” is well worth hearing if you get a chance.

Yesterday was Day 6 of the festival, which I joined as first speaker (a link to the video is included below).

Why data scientists are not the answer to your customer insight gaps

This was the, somewhat contrarian, title of the short talk I shared on this webinar.

I’m happy to share my slides with anyone who is interested, just let me know. My reason for speaking on this topic, is the number of clients I meet who have unadvisedly hired ‘data scientists‘, only to find that a Data Science team was not the panacea they expected. Despite widespread take up of analytics & wider use of data sources, I fear there is still much misunderstanding about Data Science & what to expect from graduates.

I share an infographic as part of my talk, which highlights the problem. It presents an ideal picture of the fully rounded (customer insight + data science + consultant) candidate, as if this is what businesses can expect from data scientists job applicants. I then go on to explain how the reality is often very different, as most ‘data science‘ graduates are in fact re-branded computer science graduates. Useful skills to be sure, but not the business impacting skill-set that leaders may have expected.

Finally, I go on to outline a potential solution. Encouraging insight & CX leaders to instead focus on two things. Firstly, a more holistic approach to customer insight (including analytics as only part of the mix). Secondly, training analysts (including those with data science background), in the softer skills they need to actually make a difference in their businesses.

In the Q&A at the end of the webinar, there were some interesting questions on the future for such roles & which reporting lines are ideal. So, worth hearing that section too.

A video of the Webinar

Courtesy of the Directors’ Club, here is a video of this ‘audio and slides‘ style webinar:


Omni CX Operating Model Uncovered

Following my presentation, I was joined on this webinar by Zaheer Gilani. He is an experienced CX consultant, able to share his learning from implementing CX solutions for a number of clients across different industries.

It was interesting to hear Zaheer emphasise the Operating Model building blocks needed to actually deliver a coordinated customer-centric experience across today’s complex multi-channel businesses. He does a good job of providing checklists & templates for how CX leaders should map multi-channel customer journeys. He rightly emphasises the importance of also identifying the wider business impact or dependencies for deliver the required experience in different channels (like back-end systems, processes & people).

From a Customer Insight Leader perspective, it was good to hear Zaheer emphasise the importance of customer insight to understand what the customer is seeking to achieve. It was interesting to see how many lessons from implementing CRM solutions many years ago also still apply, like the need for senior leadership buy-in, some form of single customer view & education to achieve culture change.

Are webinars for you?

I hope you found that useful. I was certainly impressed with amount of content we managed to share in just one hour, including relevant Q&A.

It’s easy when bombarded with emails offering webinars & events to just drag them to the ‘trash can‘. But, let me encourage you to pause a moment & consider whether they might just be a very efficient use of your time.

For experienced Customer Insight leaders, I’d encourage you to also think of taking part in such events. It provides an opportunity to hone your presentation skills & build your brand images, all without having to take time out from the office.

So, why not add webinars to podcasts as part of your personal development repertoire?