My experience building a dedicated data and analytics function from scratch at Nobia… Eminé Olausson Fourounjieva

The challenge many of our members face today is capturing the right data at the right time, and translating this into an appropriate action – for which an efficient data and analytics function is critical.

Someone who is well versed in this space is Eminé Olausson Fourounjieva, a transformational coach for leaders in digital and former Digital Analytics & Insights Lead at Nobia.

To gain some insight into this world, we asked Eminé to share some of her expert experience and advice for creating and managing a dedicated data and analytics function from scratch.

Thank you for taking the time to share your advice, Eminé! During your role as Digital Analytics & Insights Lead for Nobia, you were tasked with creating a dedicated data analytics function from scratch. Where do you start as someone going into that role?

When going into a company as a dedicated data and analytics expert, it’s really important to understand the business that you’re working for. From business objectives to stakeholders, initiatives, roadmap and pain points; a competent leader will understand all available opportunities, in addition to the company’s current market position.

This insight will be the backbone for future projects when they start to build up and create new solutions and opportunities.

It is also important to be aware of any legacy solutions that are already in place and review each of these to understand the level of quality and coverage they provide and whether there is need for reuse or replacement of existing tools.

It is important to be aware of any legacy solutions that are already in place and review each of these to understand the level of quality and coverage they provide

When you implemented this function, were there many roadblocks internally?

Yes! Talking about digital analytics is quite powerful, but it is also quite a sensitive area. Data is power but not everybody welcomes this direction. Not all stakeholders enjoy and embrace these new ways of working and solving problems.

This is a major barrier to moving forward because it’s about the processes; it’s about data literacy; it’s about the culture; it’s about the organisation. So, even when looking at Martech market development curves where we can see that technical solutions are increasing exponentially, it’s difficult to embrace them without having the right culture.

Culture runs in a linear way which means that new processes need to be aligned with existing culture. When you lift up culture, it brings stakeholders closer to acceptance and embracement of change. At times, it might also require some reorganisation and the introduction of new processes and new solutions, but everything should always be well aligned.

Again, it’s all about clear strategy – which does not mean wishes, hopes or expectations – it means strategy; because oftentimes strategy is a term which includes many different things beside strategy itself!

When looking at Martech market development curves where we can see that technical solutions are increasing exponentially, it’s difficult to embrace them without having the right culture

What would be your advice for ensuring that reporting and educating happens across all aspects of the business?

It depends a lot on what already exists within that organisation, but overall, it’s important to understand where the knowledge level is within the data analytics area, and then how to help stakeholders to get answers to their questions. It’s both to show them how to get answers, and to provide them with these answers in the form of, for example, custom solutions, reports, visualisations etc. It is important to talk to the stakeholders about the business and about their pain points and aspirations. This is your opportunity to understand how you can help them better in their role. It will help you to understand what type of solution you could bring on board to solve their problems.

In general, it’s about creating more time, shortening down the processes, and helping them to achieve the goals, e.g. a higher conversion rate and more satisfied customers. It’s about helping businesses to gain more profit and to meet the business objectives – you have to be able to see those goals and help the stakeholders to meet them. In order to be able to do that, you have to understand the stakeholders and the customers first. So, this is a mutual process of education and growth – its teamwork – and then you’ll enjoy the results together.

Practically speaking, I personally introduced bi-weekly meetings with the stakeholders on both the local and central levels, which sometimes also included the third-party provider of the service when necessary. The point was to gather everybody together, every second week, to enable the sharing of experiences and best practices, in addition to problem solving exercises and hands-on practice on how to use the existing tools. Me and my team were always coming with our recommendations and from there I could book up the next meeting in line with what would suit best. This also enabled me to recognise if and when somebody needed extra help and support. It was also a great platform for sharing stakeholder experiences with everyone else. These meetings were seen as really valuable and they were welcomed across the business. In addition, we were running many workshops and educational days to educate and certify stakeholders in their way of working with data.

Practically speaking, I introduced bi-weekly meetings with the stakeholders on both the local and central levels – sometimes with the solution provider – to enable sharing and hands-on practice using the tools.

As a result of COVID-19, many of our Members have seen huge acceleration of demand, meaning that their 2021 tech roadmaps look very different. What advice would you give to those who suddenly have a much larger budget than usual to spend on building out their analytic capabilities?

For many companies, this situation around COVID-19 has enabled digital transformation in a way that we couldn’t even imagine a year ago. Today we have many new opportunities, bigger budgets and fewer roadblocks but at the same time, it’s still all about risk and opportunities evaluation. They should be evaluating what they really need in order to meet business objectives and customer expectations because, at the end of the day, businesses are for humans to consume.

Whether it’s services or products, you have to understand your customers and their continually changing behaviour which is being affected by many factors – from the economic situation to the lack of communication and digitalization of the communication process. So, in order to extrapolate how you can develop a product or service which will be successful for your target group, you have to understand who your target group is.

Even if you think you know this, it would be wise to review as different movements on the market are encouraging changes in consumer behaviour and reveal new opportunities. Once you understand who your consumer is, then you can start to really understand how to meet their expectations, from which you can build something which is going to help you succeed in reaching your business goals.

Only then should you take on solutions which are going to be liftable and which you’ll be able to make fly. I personally believe more in solutions which are fast and simple to implement as you save a lot of time and results will come faster.

In Nobia’s case, I chose ContentSquare for their ease of implementation and user friendliness, amongst other things. The more flexible the solution is, the more adjustable and scalable it is, the more sustainable the complete picture of your architecture is, the better the results will be.

Because things are changing so rapidly at the moment, you have to have the opportunity to replace certain pieces along the way, in order to stay on the competitive edge. I can recommend ContentSquare because it’s both an amazing solution with an impressive roadmap, but what is also important is that they’re developing new features which can help to solve your problems in line with market demand and latest trends.

The importance of automatic activation of Data and Insights is critical to keep in mind.

In addition to this, it’s about support. If you have problems or questions, no matter how amazing the solution is itself, you’ll be in trouble if the support is not functioning well. My experience with support at Nobia with ContentSquare is that it was flawless all the way, throughout all the processes. I can really recommend it.

The importance of automatic activation of Data and Insights is something very important to keep in mind.

I personally believe more in solutions which are fast and simple to implement, you save a lot of time and results will come faster.

What would you do differently next time if you were to roll out from scratch again?

It takes time to lift something up and make it fly, but it’s important to collaborate in order to avoid becoming “home blind”. Collaborating with consultant companies that can help you by taking into consideration the experiences and pitfalls of other players on the market is a really useful approach to have in your toolbox. I had my own consultants in my team as well, so they were also taking into consideration their experiences and success stories from working with others.

There is a lot that can go wrong. I prefer to avoid those situations by looking at all of the options available and doing a risk assessment for each. That said it is unlikely everything will go as expected. There are many factors from inside and outside the organisation which can affect any situation – COVID-19 being a good example of one!

I would focus on having analytics on the higher level so that it has even more of an impact across the organisation. Even if there are amazing insights within the team, you have to have a mechanism to enable those who might profit and get better results from using those insights, to use them!

This means having visibility within the organisation, and a mechanism to share with all stakeholders – all the way up to the board level. Without such a mechanism, key insights might lay on the table somewhere in the corner of the office and never see the light of day.

You have to have a mechanism to enable those who might profit and get better results from using those insights, to use them!

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