The lessons in our lakes: Organising your data for consistent, agile insight in a post-pandemic world

Data & Analytics

Photo of Yafaa Ahres

Yafaa Ahres

Telstra Purple Community Lead LinkedIn

“Data is a reflection of our world,”

 ~ Samir Boualla, CDO at ING France


The value of data has never been in question, whether to offer new insight into customers, operational opportunities, or visibility into the workings of your organisation.

But the impact of the pandemic – bringing with it widescale remote working, use of enterprise cloud applications, and a customer journey that’s been entirely digitised – has only served to underline the opportunity that judicious use of data offers.

As three data leaders in our recent Data Journeys community discussion noted, current circumstances have only served to accelerate their use of data, creating a level of expectation and even impatience for results. Those results are being demanded because of the sheer number of business uncertainties and risks created by the pandemic.

The opportunity is enormous. As Samir Boualla, CDO at ING France said:

“Data is a reflection of our world, what the organisation is doing and what our business is doing and this is one of the most important links you have in deciding how to move your business forward. Our journey helped our organisation to realise this.”

So, what tools have data leaders used to meet these challenges? We spoke to three data leaders in large European enterprises to find out.


Creating a single source of truth

Samir Boualla, CDO at ING France, immediately understood the value of creating a single source of truth within the organisation, upon joining the company.

Legacy processes had created a fragmented and inconsistent system where data was handled differently across different regions. Every desk was essentially its own data warehouse. That meant every employee had his or her own version of the organisation’s truth.

Working with partners to create a data lake to pool all organisational data was the first step in solving these problems, building a single platform to integrate storage, analytics, and reporting.

The data lakes not only improved data governance and data protection, but also the quality of the data that was available. That means less risk and better decisions for the future of the business. However, compliance with local regulations across jurisdictions meant each country had its own data lake to meet complex in-country requirements. For example, Turkey has very stringent sovereignty laws and required its own data lake.

But by working in an agile fashion and standardising data processes, the quality of data available to decision-makers has been immeasurably improved. Executives at board level understood and supported that agenda – as well as the long-term goal of migrating local data lakes into a consolidated platform to create a single source of truth for the business.


Using data to change employee and customer behaviour

Finally, Tom Bennett, the Chief Operating Officer of UK Agency a commercial real estate company JLL, described how using data they were able to influence the behaviour not only of their employees, but of their customers, for the better.

Traditionally, commercial estate agents had to weigh many considerations when offering potential spaces – from cost to connectivity, sustainability to services, and from value for money to the views. And often they were being presented on paper and in-person.

By bringing together all of the data the company had on its systems and surfacing in a new app, the data team created an immersive experience called ‘NXT office’ presenting all of the relevant information an agent and a client want to know about office spaces.

The virtual tour experience not only consistently changed how agents presented key real estate information, but it made the customers sit up and take notice too.

The COO described how a customer challenged them:

“Surely with all this data and an understanding of my business, you should be able to tell me where I should put my office?”

Using the data already gathered – and working to remove intrinsic biases, such as the clients’ desire to stay in a traditional location – the team created an intelligent model using state of the art AI and Machine Learning to predict a ranked scoring of property options best suited to their requirements.

By working with over 20 data sets, creating more than 200 variables, and using several AI models, they were able to create a model that was then challenged and experimented with brokers. The end result not only creates efficiencies for the agent, but the customer gets a better outcome and experience.

The COO summed it up:

“Data is reshaping our world and the property industry. With modern tools, you can challenge the traditional nature of how we serve our clients and provide value. Data and it’s use will be the differentiator moving forward.”

The lessons of our lakes – truth, agility, and value

We are living through what may be the biggest data gathering opportunity of all time, as businesses, customers, and employees all digitise their behaviour at speed and scale.

As we have seen, one of the key means to realise the opportunities of all of that data being created is to implement a data lake.

Whether to apply a consistent lens to decision-making as a single source of truth, to enable your team to pivot in an agile way with the information they need, or to further boost customer and employee experience, the use of centralised data storage, governance, analysis, and reporting adds significant value across the business.




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