conversation about maximising value from customer insight

The most important skills for Data Scientists in businesses

most important skillsWhich are the most important skills, needed by analysts or data scientists?

It’s an interesting question to ponder. It is tempting to fall back on technical basics, like statistical knowledge & software or coding skills. But most graduate data scientists or experienced analysts will be screened for those at recruitment.

So, if you are leading an Analytics, Data Science or Insight team, where should you invest?

My mind was prompted to consider these questions by two posts on LinkedIn. So, let me share those discussions and challenges with you. Then, as well as agreeing with the need for more UK research, I’ll share my suggestions.

Thanks for Martin Squires and Beau Walker for interesting posts to start my rumination. (more…)

Getting the most out of your Data Science team, pitfalls to avoid

your data science teamDuring our month focussed on Data Science programming languages, my thoughts have turned to getting the most out of your Data Science team.

This topic has arisen, because of what I’ve observed in a number of organisations seeking to implement Data Science.

As I’ve worked with more clients and talked to other leaders at Data Science events, it has struck me how many fall into common pitfalls. These limit the impact made by their Data Science teams and so may limit the lifespan of business willingness to invest.

Like many such business problems, the challenge is not with the technology or innovation itself, but rather how it is managed. Once again, it’s what you do with it that counts. (more…)

Curating a Big Picture, why research teams need to learn how

Big PictureResearch teams can be mistakenly viewed as simply research buyers or just project managers, for a number of reasons, including a lack of curating a big picture.

I’m sure anyone leading a research or customer insight team can relate to the problems of such misconceptions. But, what do I mean by ‘curating a big picture‘?

In many ways, this is an extension of the points I previously made on knowledge management, but with a focus on research teams.

Here, I’ve seen two elements that can be lacking.

Firstly, insufficient context and secondly, a lack of remembering and connecting what has been learned previously. In this post, I’ll briefly share some advise on both elements. (more…)

Developing that vital Domain Knowledge in your analysts

domain knowledgeHow do you develop domain knowledge in your analysts, so their data usage, interpretation & recommendations make sense?

I’ve mentioned in a previous post, about the difficulties of offshoring analytics, how vital domain knowledge can be. Yet, I find most articles or speakers focus on your need to develop new technology skills (like mastering the latest ‘en vogue‘ coding language).

Akin to the greater importance of softer skills in analysts, as outlined previously, my own experience is that domain knowledge makes a greater difference to analyst effectiveness.

So, as my contribution to redressing that imbalance, here are some thoughts on domain knowledge. Why it matters & how best to help your analysts learn about their domain. (more…)

Are you reinventing the wheel, every time you undertake analysis?

reinventing the wheelOnce your analysts have a clear business question to answer, do they start new analysis each time, potentially ‘reinventing the wheel‘?

After creating or leading data & analytics teams for many years, I began to notice this pattern of behaviour. What we seemed to lack was a consistent knowledge management solution or ‘corporate memory‘ that could easily spot what should be remembered.

Funnily enough, as became convinced of the need for ‘holistic customer insight‘, I found a partial answer amongst researchers.

Research teams are somewhat better at this, as it has become a more standard part of their methods.

I’ve yet to find an ideal solution, but I think it’s such an important issue for analytics & insight teams, that I’ll use this post to share my own experience. (more…)

Lessons from Brexit letter, for insight leaders’ influencing

Brexit influencingYou might be sick of wall-to-wall Brexit coverage on the news, but I think there are lessons to learn from Theresa May’s letter to Donald Tusk. Lessons for analytics leaders needing to influence their senior stakeholders.

Both my own experience in that role, and work with our clients, has taught me that analytics leaders need to be able to communicate in more than just impressive Powerpoint decks. Despite the emphasis on data visualisation & storytelling in analysis ‘decks’, influencing business leaders requires a wider palette.

To be clear from the outset, I’m not expecting analytics leaders to need to write as long a letter as our PM sent Donald Tusk. However, shorter business communications can be just as political. (more…)

The benefits of a competency framework for your analysts

competency frameworkAs we focus on Analytics & Data Science this month, I’ve been reminded of how a Competency Framework can help.

Both work with clients, and my own experience in creating & leading analytics teams, has taught me that such a tool can help in a number of ways. In this post I’ll explain what I mean by a competency framework and the different ways it can help Analytics, Data Science or Customer Insight leaders.

I wonder if you’ve used such a tool in the past?

Across generalist roles & larger departments, the use of competencies has become the norm for many years, as HR professionals will attest. However, sometimes these definitions and descriptions feel to generic to be helpful to those leading more specialist of technical teams.

But, before I get into overcoming that limitation, let me be clear on definitions. (more…)