helping you master customer insight leadership

Global Reviews’ UK Digital Leaders Summit (#UKDLS)

IMG_2587This is a new event in the UK and one I attended yesterday, as a speaker on Behavioural Economics. It’s well worth digital leaders attending in future.

Right from the start things boded well as they had chosen a different and engaging venue. Bounce (121 Holborn, London) is the official ‘home of ping-pong’ and is literally the place where the game was invented in 1901. This gave guests the promise of a ping-pong championship after the event, as well as a more visually interesting location.

Another bonus was the approach taken by Global Reviews – for this to be a relaxed meeting of like-minded leaders across a number of verticals. There were no sponsors pushing their wares, no exhibition stands & no sales pitches. It really was a relaxed time to be challenged by other viewpoints and discuss what it might mean for your own business.

The day was divided up into three sections of panel debates (including attendees not speakers, which was a good approach) followed by keynote speakers. There was also a team exercise before and after lunch, to give plenty of outlet to those competitive urges. Compere and inquisitor of panels was the excellent Clare McDonnell of Radio 5 Live – a very likeable and effective facilitator.

A further bonus was the hiring of a graphic artist to visually capture (with flip charts & coloured markers) the main themes of each session – which made a much more amusing set of notes to review. Clive was later available for caricatures in between ping-pong bouts & was very good at those too. I’ll upload some of his most useful visualizations of key points when I get them. It could be a whole new genre of ‘conference cartoons’.

To give you a more bite-sized breakdown of my learning points from that day, I’m also going to innovate and just share the key tweets sent during the day (as inspiration struck):

How was that as means of writing up an event? Did it work for you?

Event: Analytics for Insurance, Europe 2014

AFIE 2014 brochureThis conference was well attended and lived up to it’s billing of attracting insurers, consultants and suppliers from across Europe. With approximately 200 attendees and representation from over 14 different countries, it was a lively and interesting event with strong audience participation.

Six key themes emerged consistently during the day:

a) try, try & try again;

b) fail fast & fail cheaply;

c) data is an asset, manage it as such;

d) insight is more than just data or analytics;

e) cross-functional collaboration is needed;

f) measure your marketing effectiveness.

To kick us off there was a panel of speakers from leading insurers (Swiss Re, Towergate and Cooperative). Each shared how they had developed their analytics capability and seen value as a result. Some were more positive about the potential of “big data” than others, but once again the most applicable examples were using wider sources of internal data rather than social media or other unstructured external data. There were also a couple of examples throughout the day of analytics centres of excellence being created, although the best organisational fit varied. Some still saw analytics as part of IT, whilst others had established this CoE within Marketing, Actuarial or Underwriting functions. None of the organisations presenting had yet implemented a directorate of customer insight, as pioneered by some of the C-Suite customer insight leaders in the most progressive firms. However, there was good practical advice on there need for test & learn, local business understanding guiding deployment of models not IT and the relative benefits of in-housing or outsourcing your analytics capability (a question which recurred during the day).

Following this, we all had the pleasure of hearing a great presentation from MoneySuperMarket.com. Without spoiling the surprise for anyone who has not heard Orlando before, it concerned the experience Norm Larsen as a persistent inventor. Through the story of his persistence, to create a product needed for early space flight, we focussed on the cultural challenge of achieving great analytics (“it takes more than rocket science to launch a rocket”). This presentation is well worth hearing if you get the chance and landed the points (excuse the pun) of both “try, try & try again” when testing & learning with analytics, as well as “fail fast & fail cheaply” which is very relevant for those establishing innovative analytics or database marketing teams.

Several times during the day there was plenty of time for audience Q&A and I’m glad to say that at this event there was active participation. The kinds of topics the audience were raising included creating business cases for investment in an analytics team, the need for attitudinal understanding alongside behavioural analytics, how to achieve “top table” buy-in and the recruitment challenge faced by many organisations. In fact, although people accepted that graduate recruitment and talent development might be an ideal solution, the need for short term results drove the interest in outsourcing. I warned against this unless very effective knowledge transfer is implemented, consistency of personnel and planning in the time taken to become familiar with business domain and your own data. Much of my concern is of course fuelled by my past experience of outsourcing and offshoring analytics.

The focus then moved on to the use of analytics to enable more intelligent pricing. In a session that was well chaired by Celent, we heard from BGL Group, Storebrand and 1st Central Insurance. Some great geeky fun here for the more numerate. We even got an equation on a slide. Applications included credibility modelling, dynamic price optimisation and management of your street price. Given my past experience of customer insight having a key role to play in ensuring senior leadership understand the customer impact of pricing changes, I was particularly taken by comments from both BGL & 1st Central Insurance. The latter has apparently seen from analysis what I’ve experienced in the past, that unfettered optimisation will punish your most loyal/dependent customers and have decided to take an ethical stance of renewal premium rates being in line with new business. This is a huge commercial challenge for large insurers, with large back books, but given growing customer and press disquiet with the pricing differential that can emerge over years, it needs addressing. I was glad to hear other organisations using customer insight to bring to life the characteristics of customers impacted most by statistically optimal pricing.

I was also struck during the day by the level of academic background in a number of the speakers. Beyond the hype of the data scientist role, there does appear to be a real growth in analytics and customer insight (or customer science) leaders having PhDs or coming from backgrounds in academia. This certainly has benefits in the level of statistical understanding expressed by a number of speakers and it was good to benefit from some of their teaching. However, I believe there is also an inherent risk as well. A risk that predictive analytics become more theoretical and focussed on optimal techniques and thus more removed from real world customers and effectively using analytics with research and the learning of front-line colleagues in customer services etc.

Given that concern, it was reassuring in the afternoon to focus on customer analytics. I shared the stage with Christina from AIG and Marion from If Insurance (Norway). The audience appeared to respond well to my presentation and I will soon share my slides via SlideShare for those who are interested. Christina and Marion also did a good job of highlighting the range of application areas for customer analytics, including media mix effectiveness measurement and optimising your multi-channel database marketing through test and learn. The questions we received in a follow-on panel session again revealed an audience with concerns about recruiting, outsourcing and marketing effectiveness measurement.

So, another useful event to attend, and one that will hopefully help me further shape the content on this blog to address the questions/concerns of today’s customer insight leaders. If you attended this event then please share your comments below, or just let us know which of the topics raised in this post you would like to see covered in more depth.

Event: Insurance Data & Analytics 2014

Insurance data and analyticsThis event organised by Post Magazine was pretty well attended by Insurers and their suppliers. Although the audience was pretty quiet during Q&A sessions after each speaker, there was plenty of time for questions and a good buzz of questions & ideas during the breaks. A good mix of presentations, interviews and panel sessions as well. With apologies to those who my failing memory has overlooked, here are my recollections:

Magnus Boyd a partner at law firm Hill Dickinson shared his thoughts on privacy & trust generally during an interview with our chairwoman. The most striking thing he raised was the impact on companies from the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation. This will significantly increase the level of fines for breaches and remove the discretion to allow firms longer to declare them. It will also require larger companies to appoint a Data Protection Officer with secure tenure. He could foresee a brisker trade in insurance against data protection breaches for specialist underwriters.

I was presenting on the emerging role of Customer Insight Directors (or CKOs in the USA). Pleasingly it seems my message as to the importance of these roles, leadership, coaching and holistic customer insight complimented other presenters. You can see a part of my message in the previous post on “Breadth of Customer Insight”. A more concerned perspective might be that the majority of presenters still focused on IT, data and analytics as if they hold the answer alone. But some positive conversations in the breaks allayed my fears, at least for a number of the attendees.

Several suppliers shared what they can offer, but two stuck out for me. Visual DNA shared their work on using visual psychographic questionnaires to generate scores which they have shown are predictive of future behaviour. For instance getting customers to unconsciously reveal their risk taking appetite or conscientiousness. It was interested to see how they are using this and the volume of scores already collected. However, I do feel use of this data to drive differential pricing or cover will prompt future questions from the FCA or ICO, given the lack of transparency for the customer as to what they are revealing and for what purpose. What was encouraging was to see at least one of the suppliers engaging with the predictive power of attitudinal as well as behavioural data (i.e. research + analytics).

The other interesting company was Esri. Ostensibly a GIS and mapping data provider, I was unaware of their scale, private ownership and amount reinvested in R&D (very much like the SAS model). What was even more pleasing was to hear of their work with the UN and what a key role Esri plays in helping early on during natural disasters around the world. Providing the UN and NGOs with up to date maps for their work is a key need that does not get much media attention. So it seems that Jack Dangermond has not only built a very successful global privately owned data & analytics business, but one with CSR in its DNA. Good to see.

I was also encouraged by the final presentation from Ian Hood of RSA. He is responsible for RSA’s digital capability, keeping that up-to-date, meeting customer expectations and implementing into an omni-channel world. My encouragement came, once again, from how Ian is using attitudinal as well as behavioural data. Research was used and valued (including the valuable technique of eye tracking studies) to compliment the behavioural data on digital usage and robust “AB testing”, i.e. properly constructed database marketing to test the hypotheses reached from converging research & analysis. Right on my wavelength. It is interesting that I quite often find that this thinking and approach is more prevalent amongst digital teams in corporates, but sadly often because they are run as more independent silos from the main organisation.

So, overall a good event (and like all such events you get out what you put in). I would just like to see the brief for future such events deliberately extended to cover all of customer insight so more sharing and learning can happen across the boundaries that too often exist between data scientists and researchers.

Event: Forrester Customer Insights Council 2014

Forrester ResearchIn May 2014, I attended this council run by Forrester Research. For those not familiar with Forrester they are one of the biggest global research firms providing independent advice on technology and suppliers (another being Gartner). Unlike Gartner, I have always found Forrester to be more open to focussing on business decision makers and the technology needs of Marketing, Operations and Insight leaders. Gartner has some very able thinkers (including Ed Thompson and Gareth Herschel), but their US parent seems to keep pulling them back to focus on the needs of CIOs and their IT teams.

Anyway, thanks to the kind invitation from Jeff Brown (Principal Advisor on CI and my key contact when I had a seat with them), I attended my second CI Council and once again found it helpful. One of it’s key benefits is the absence of consultants and suppliers (I was still working for Lloyds at this time). Plus Jeff and his team do well to attract the actual Customer Insight leaders from the organisations represented, so there is real understanding of one another’s challenges. It tends to be a small select gathering (15-20), with both Banks & Insurers disproportionately represented, which suited me fine.

It is a confidential, Chatham House rules, meeting (which is also helpful) so I am limited in what I can share. But I thought it would be useful to both let my readers know that this exists (ask Jeff if you’d like to attend in future) and to highlight a few topics which were covered this year:

  • Innovating your Customer Insights offering to add value (inc. assessing CI capability – something that I also offer);
  • Leveraging Marketing Technology for Improved Results (inc. marketing automation);
  • The Tools CI Pros need to usher in Customer Obsession (inc. strategy & processes – again I also offer this service).

If you are considering paying for Forrester’s services, rather than just negotiating a free attendance, a few learning points from when I paid for their services: (a) Remember that they are a research company not a typical consultancy, so think of where research or best practice models can help you not just general support & advice; (b) Especially when arranging calls with a specific Forrester expert, you will get out what you put in – i.e be sure to have a very clear brief and clear focus for the call, otherwise you can waste time explaining your internal language or trying to cover too many points at a superficial level.

Anyway, I hope that’s of interest and helped – let me know if not! I have no relationship with Forrester but am grateful to Jeff for the invite and wanted to let other Customer Insight leaders know that this forum is available and worth considering.

Do comment below if you have ever attended and have any thoughts on where Forrester can add value (or not) for CI leaders.

Event: B2B customer insight

Cutty SarkLeading insight for a major life & pensions provider for many years, you become painfully aware of the added difficulty in reaching strong insights on B2B customers. Although at first B2B insight can just appear less developed as a market, with a much smaller quality data provider market and still more of a focus on sales management and brand (almost where B2C was 5-10 years ago); on reflection this is not the case.

It is more challenging to develop as robust analysis (mainly due to data challenges driven by both less capture and matching challenges) and more challenging to interpret robust research (mainly due to multiple relationships and opaque decision making hierarchies/influences). However, on closer inspection, some of the challenges being attempted for B2B insight are both more challenging and able to create a bigger commercial impact if achieved.

So, I was pleased to see a tweet & blog post from Peter Lavers and the team at Customer Attuned on the lessons that B2B and B2C insight can learn from each other.

Earlier this year I attended an event run by them entitled “The Great Debate” (part of a series of such events), with this one being held at Greenwich. I was reticent to write too much on my thoughts from this; as it is a Chatham House rules meeting. However, Peter has usefully shared the key anonymised lessons learnt on his blog. The above link is well worth reading.

Any other thoughts from those who like me have had the challenge of both B2B and B2C insight? Did others also find the approach to NPS needed to be tweaked? Do reply with your comments.

Event: More Behavioural Economics at a Cricket Ground

Following my presentation at Edgbaston, last week I also presented at the Gloucestershire County Cricket ground in Bristol. Clearly the CII favour the view over a green for their regional market forums. Anyway, it was another opportunity to share my thoughts on Behavioural Economics and why it matters for Insurers. Another positive response and good engagement from a mixture of insurers, brokers and related agencies; which promises well for this industry engaging with the FCA’s challenges in this area.

To help spread the word further, below I share the presentation that I used:

Happy to offer training or consultancy to companies wanting to engage with this challenge. To my mind expertise in this area is a natural and needed fit with customer insight teams within Financial Services.

Event: CII Regional Market Forum

Good to present at this event on the relevance of Behavioural Economics to the Insurance industry. I’m used to presenting on this theme to marketers but it was interesting to engage with underwriters, brokers and other insurance professionals.

CII Regional Market Forum

 

The follow-up to this will be an article I’ve written, entitled “Why Behavioural Economics matters for Insurers“, to be published in July’s CII Journal.

Plus it afforded us all a fine view of the grass at Edgbaston:

Edgbaston