Bentley, MYOB share their data culture building insights

Digital and analytics leaders from both organisations share their experiences of building data smarts and better utilisation of data for decision making

The importance of building company-wide data smarts and a culture of data-driven decision making has been highlighted by Bentley Motors and MYOB as part of their digital and data journeys.

Analytics and digital leaders from both organisations spoke at this week’s Tableau Asia-Pacific event to share their experiences of harnessing data and bringing more sophisticated data insights into their respective businesses. At Bentley Motors, a company-wide digital transformation underway as part of a wider ‘Beyond 100’ strategy to bring the 100-year-old organisation into the future has led to significant focus on data capability.

Bentley Motors chief digital officer, Rob Savin, explained the ‘Beyond 100’ strategy isn’t just about the product portfolio, or going carbon neutral, it’s also about the “extraordinary customer experiences” the brand delivers.

“As a luxury brand, it’s not just about interacting with our product,” he said. “That [extraordinary CX] is enabled in a few ways: Through the people we have, the culture we create but also digitisation, and providing the tools tech and data they need. We are trying to drive our business through data-driven decisions and by acting on customer needs.”

While the ambition to change was already there at Bentley, the trajectory of transformation and turning engaging into activity that’s going to build both the right overarching culture, as well as day-to-day behaviour and habits that will deliver it, is key, Savin said.

“One thing that’s driven that is the finding those first areas of impact and that success. Nothing drives the following, behaviour and support we need every day than identifying each of those wins across the journey,” he said.  

Enter a connection into trusted data across the organisation. Bentley Motors collaboration leader, digitisation and IT, Andy Moore, said simply connecting data sets wasn’t enough to achieve this ambition.

“We need to understand what data we want to share, what levels we want to drill into, and how often we want to refresh the data – monthly, daily for instance – as that has performance impact on the dashboards,” he explained.  

Bentley has defined three key roles that help to do that. The first is the business owner, who understands the process, what they’re trying to glean from data insights and what story they’re trying to tell. The second role is the data owner, who understands the source of data, how that database is constructed, and what each header or dataset means. The final role is dashboard creator, which within Bentley is using Tableau to draw in the right data and create dashboards that meet business requirements.

“This is then underpinned by the executive sponsor, who for that function is ensuring we are providing business value and that everything is underpinning our Beyond 100 strategy,” Moore said.

“It’s important we invest the time to getting the data connections right in data preparation. We start with small proof of concepts, and once agreed data is trusted, we can scale data sources into many dashboards.”

Savin said the result is a company-wide appreciation of data as an asset to the business in terms of what it enables.

“As leaders we have to role model this behaviour but also have to instill it within our functions with data-decision making,” he said. “We firstly do that by making data available to people, and by making it really visual so people can understand and interrogate it on-demand. That’s driving faster decision making.

“Tools like Tableau and internal applications that put data at your fingertips also drive success for business. Nothing generates more support than showing success.”

Another people-oriented aspect of Bentley’s approach to digital and data transformation is its digital apprenticeship program. Having recognised the need for new skills, the company created a two to four-year program aimed at school leavers or young adults to encourage building such skillsets. Participants spend one day a week working towards qualification, and the other four days on business projects.

Besides skills, the program provides is a richer diversity of employee applications, Moore said. “That’s not only gender but also background, and our current team is two-thirds female,” he said.

“We combine different skillsets together – software developers, data analysis, UX designers – and these people work together to deliver business projects that have impact from the day they join Bentley. It could be keeping colleagues COVID secure or sharing information at a board level.”  

Upskilling programs then allow experienced staffers to also go on data apprentice pathways and build data expertise on top of their day jobs.

“By working together, we are building this community to share best practice and ideas and keep innovation going. Its’ really helping us innovate and accelerate towards our future,” Moore said.  

Make it self-service; but make it clear what self-service is

Over at accounting software vendor, MYOB, client analytics manager, Kate Penglase, has spent the past two years helping consolidate five reporting platforms into one based on Tableau.

She cited an emphasis on two components: Reporting; and proactive analytics. For the former, Penglase’s team has been working to build consistent reports accessible to the business with nearly real-time data sets.

“That will be the trigger for more involved analysis. We’re reporting across all products, regions and channels, sales types and number of attributes to split up sales agreement and retention reporting on,” she explained. “That’s first port of call for the business.

“Often, there might have issue – for example, not hitting a sales target for particular product in a particular channel. That’s when you’d have a deep dive and further analysis.”  

Penglase described the work to date as both a data consolidation exercise and a people education piece. Notably, MYOB has put an emphasis on self-service data capability.

“There is no one definition of self-service within a business, it depends on area of the business you’re in,” Penglase continued. “At MYOB, the concept is we have power users who create dashboards, getting into the nitty gritty of data, performing transformations, data extracts and feeding reports pushed out to the business. Self-service is very different there compared to consumers of these reports.

“The majority of our 1000 licence holders are viewers. It’s about going in, interacting and engaging with the dashboards through filters in the reporting. This could be to see sales results, retention reporting and product usage dashboards.”

To get it right, an interplay across the organisation is vital. At MYOB, this is firstly between stakeholders who frame the business problem.

“We’re not after our stakeholders to come to us with an analytics solution; that’s our job,” she commented. “But they come to us with a business problem and we help articulate it and design an analytics solution.

“Data here is large and complicated – we have been in a constant acquisition phase for instance, and our team has a large role to play in integrating those data sources. When we have a business problem frame by stakeholders, we do an exploratory exercise to understand data available to best answer the business problem.”

A further step has been building community. One way MYOB does this is via a data governance group, which meets regularly and has representatives sourced from across the organisation.

“Our objective is to ensure not just consistency in visual presentation or dashboards, but also in how we define metrics, for example. Plus we focus on protocol and engagement with our data dashboards,” Penglase said. For example, she noted having multiple interpretations of a customer churn figure can lead to discrepancies in understanding the business between departments.

“We have code of conduct in all aspects that’s consistent across the business. It’s something you have to constantly keep on top of to ensure there is consistency. We’re reviewing that now and trying to assess how we can do it better and differently in 2021.”

The result has been significant demand and a huge appetite across MYOB for answers to all sorts of business questions to be presented in data-fuelled dashboards, Penglase added.

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