How Suncorp and Helloworld are driving into digital with data

Companies at different stages in developing single customer views of data

From left: David Hassan, Helloworld; Mark Reinke, Suncorp; James McQuivey, Forrester; and panel moderator, Jodie Sangster, ADMA
From left: David Hassan, Helloworld; Mark Reinke, Suncorp; James McQuivey, Forrester; and panel moderator, Jodie Sangster, ADMA

Suncorp and Helloworld see their digital strategies as critical to survival in an increasingly data-driven world, according to executives from each company.

The IT and marketing leaders from each company described their progress towards gaining insights from data on a panel at the ‘Developing Your Digital Intelligence’ event, produced by CMO, CIO and ADMA under the Executive Connections banner.

Helloworld CIO, David Hassan, explained how his company, an online travel site partly owned by Qantas, has been working toward achieving a single customer view of its data. In the last year, “the power of data has become more obvious to the organisation”, and Helloworld realized it had to change to keep competitive, he said.

“A lot more people were booking travel online, so we needed to get our retail network ready for that,” Hassan said. Not embracing change could have meant being swamped by the likes of BestFlights, Expedia and Qantas.com, he said.

However, a challenge is that the company has a large amount of data in different places.

Rather than write a three-year strategy, Helloworld has tackled the problem with “short sprints”, collecting basic customer data, finding insights from it and then building on the learnings, Hassan said. The company is six months into that program, and so far has about three of eight data sources feeding into a single customer view.

“We chose to start with our most structured, easiest accessible data,” Hassan said. “We also took it in bite-sized chunks.”

The CIO went to Helloworld’s retail and marketing teams and asked for a couple of use cases to address as proof of concepts, he said. “We know we’re not going to solve it all now, but we took an iterative approach to it.”

Hassan is also not afraid to make mistakes. “This is a learning,” he added.

Suncorp is further along in its digital strategy and has established a chief data office to spearhead data-driven initiatives. The insurance company has brought data together across 15 brands into a single customer view and is “pretty close” to achieving truly real-time capability, according to Mark Reinke, Suncorp group executive of customer data and marketing.

“For us, [the driver was] the realisation that we simply can’t predict the future, but we have to prepare our business for change. And we understand the themes of change, but not the nature of that change,” he said.

Suncorp sees data as an enabler, said Reinke. “It’s not the end. It’s the means to the end.”

Data helps Suncorp grow while keeping costs down, he said. “The role of data in our business is to open up the jaws … between growth and cost. It’s bigger than marketing.”

Forrester VP and principal analyst, James McQuivey, admitted most companies are still well behind Suncorp. The majority of organisations he advises at Forrester are about halfway through step one, which is about bringing together existing data sets.

“You have existing sources of data you have to figure out how to bring together and make them accessible and make them able to generate insights,” he said. “That in itself is a huge effort.”

The next step is to multiply the existing data “by the amount of data you’re actually going to have access to five years from now,” he said. Step three is to figure out what the data says about what your customers want next.

To drive a digital strategy in an organisation, Hassan said it’s critical marketing and IT work collaboratively. “We’ve got a good culture where anybody can throw ideas either way,” he said of Helloworld.

Related: Suncorp: Marketing and IT are becoming synonymous
CMO-CIO relationship is improving; technology union has a way to go
CMO-CIO partnership key in digital customer engagement

Reinke said it is also important to develop an agile business. “You have to build a culture to make decisions fast.”

Suncorp has benefitted from bringing everyone in the analytical value chain together into a chief data office, he said. This has helped create career paths, rotational opportunities and a learning campus within the organisation, he said.

McQuivey said that kind of structural decision can help significantly. “I’m not sure everybody’s prepared to do that or able to do that, but if you’re in a position that you can, it will do tremendous things,” he claimed.

Suncorp has also sought partners to drive its data initiative, Reinke said. “We just recently went through a process to select partners at the top and partners at the bottom of the value chain.”

At the bottom, partners can automate processes so Suncorp’s analysts aren’t tied up doing reporting. “At the top of the value chain, go and find the world’s best [companies] … because that’s where you’re going to learn,”Reinke said.

Finding resource and scale

Recruitment is key to bringing data skills into an organisation, panellists agreed. Reinke said Suncorp has been seeking university graduates with data and social science skills.

Read more: CMO50 #1: Mark Reinke, Suncorp

“We have gone deep into Australian universities and US universities to set up ongoing pipelines,” he told attendees.

Cost constraints have been a barrier for Helloworld to bring data skills into the organisation, and represent a continuing challenge, said Hassan.

Alongside the right skills, embracing the cloud is critical to allowing organisations to be able to scale up to manage all the data, said McQuivey. “It just becomes an accelerator of your strategy.”

Reinke said scale, cost and flexibility are the top benefits of cloud, with flexibility the most valuable attribute.

Read more: CMO50 #14: Kim Portrate, Helloworld

Cloud lowered costs and reduced resource requirements at Helloworld, said Hassan. “For us it had to be cloud.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Launch marketing council Episode 5: Retailer and supplier

In our fifth and final episode, we delve into the relationship between retailer and supplier and how it drives and influences launch marketing strategies and success. To do that, we’re joined by Campbell Davies, group general manager of Associated Retailers Limited, and Kristin Viccars, marketing director A/NZ, Apex Tool Group. Also featured are Five by Five Global managing director, Matt Lawton, and CMO’s Nadia Cameron.

More Videos

Great read. I agree that it should be a perfect balance between interacting with your customers and knowing your brand. As a business, yo...

Caroline Scott

7 ways CMOs can improve their customer engagement game

Read more

Very true. Team development helps improve collaboration among the team members. I was able to improve my team's collaboration skills by t...

Quent Sinder

Why empowering others can help make you a great leader

Read more

CRM is a very good software that can help you succeed in your business. In my company, this system has allowed me to improve customer rel...

Anna Janicka

Sensis rebrands to Thryv and brings business software to Australian SMBs

Read more

AI Leasing Assistants have finally arrived for the multifamily industry. With so many to choose from it can be hard to figure out which i...

Alice Labs Pte. Ltd.

CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 6 May 2021

Read more

Nowadays, when everything is being done online, it is good to know that someone is trying to make an improvement. As a company, you are o...

Marcus

10 lessons Telstra has learnt through its T22 transformation

Read more

Blog Posts

Why if marketing is all you do, you’ll never be very good at it

OK, so you’re probably thinking: “Here comes another article to badger me about living in my bubble.” And also, “I bet this bubble-bashing piece will go on to explain how I can achieve better results through some heady dose of new life experiences, new routines and annoyingly different opinions on social media.”

Dane Smith and Toby Harrison

Ogilvy Australia

A leader’s role in rebuilding a culture of confidence

Every day, there are new predictions and studies on the future of work, the state of the economy and the unfolding global pandemic. All of which creates uncertainty and heightens the imperative of effective leadership.

Michelle Gibbings

Workplace expert, author

Confused About Your Customers?​

​I've worked in brand and marketing for more than 20 years. But there’s one area where I’ve found myself going around in circles and I must admit I'm becoming increasingly confused.

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

Sign in