World Tour: Why data matters in a hyper-connected world
Fujitsu World Tour touched down in London this week, where nearly one thousand Fujitsu customers and partners were treated to a whole host of expert insight and a fantastic technology showcase. One of my personal highlights was Orlando Machado’s keynote.
As Chief Data Scientist at MoneySuperMarket.com, he gave a fascinating insight into how businesses should be considering data, particular given this age of rapid digital transformation.
The packed auditorium paused while Orlando made his introduction in the form of 15 facts about himself – his interests, his family, his work history, and so on.
The reason in doing this soon became clear – “you might find it a bit easier to have a conversation with me now,” he explained.
It’s this philosophy that drives MoneySuperMarket – it strives to have more personal and better conversations directly with customers. All of this is made possible through understanding huge amounts of data.
“We get to know each customer as well as we possibly can – but we can only do it through data,” he said.
The company claims to know 35 things about 20 million people – so making sense of all that information allows it to have better conversations at immense scale. However, it hasn’t always been easy – when Orlando joined in 2012 he joked that it had “more databases than employees!”
Moore’s Law is accelerating the pace of change
Orlando explained rapid technological advances are growing increasingly difficult for human minds to comprehend – linear growth feels natural to us, but exponential growth doesn’t.
As computing power doubles roughly every two years (known as Moore’s Law), it gets harder and harder for us to comprehend what all that data can do. While that prediction is currently under threat, advances in quantum computing could suggest there’s no sign of this acceleration letting up.
It’s forcing companies to disrupt and innovate, he said, with many now trying to do this from inside their own organisations.
Orlando explained this is happening because it’s difficult to know where consumers are going to spend their money – with trusted brands or innovative start-ups. However, better understanding the customer through data can help this.
But what happens to that data also has to be a key consideration. He described the ‘privacy paradox’ – the conflict between a consumer being willing to give their personal data away to use services, while also harbouring concerns about what happens to it.
“It’s important for companies to take privacy seriously,” said Orlando.
In MoneySuperMarket’s case, knowing so much information on millions of customers means it has to be responsible with that data.
Marrying data + creativity
Another area explored in his presentation focussed on the use of data analytics with the company’s advertising.
Despite their #EpicStrut campaign being the most complained about TV advert in 2015, Orlando revealed they also used 300 data fields to predict the impact of the adverts.
“What [people] didn’t see what was going on behind the scenes. There was a whole lot of science that sits behind the screen.”
Understanding this data properly helped them maximise their impact and ROI.
“Engaging creative ideas will often polarise a crowd,” he said. “[To me] there’s no conflict between data and creativity…to me its extremely important to do both.”
It also means MoneySuperMarket is set up to test and experiment with new things at scale, constantly learning and improving what they do through data.
“We’re just scratching the surface,” said Orlando. “But there are many things we haven’t yet solved.”
He then signed off with a warning to the audience…
“There is a tendency to shroud ourselves in jargon. I would urge people not to use jargon, and instead think about conversations.”
It was this final remark that has stuck with me – and it really makes the argument for better understanding data all the more powerful. Thank you Orlando for such a fantastic keynote!
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