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"The Journey to Data Centricity" with Infosys and Unilever

Guest Post by
Frisco Chau, Practice Engagement Manager, Infosys

We jointly hosted a networking event including discussion and debate on Sept 12th with Unilever at the Infosys Experience Centre in London and were joined by Rachel Bristow, Vice President Global Media Data and Analytics as the guest keynote speaker, who gave a talk about what the journey to becoming a truly data-driven company looks like at Unilever. This high-touch forum was attended by a select group of marketing and IS leaders from retail and consumer packaged goods industries.

Our host, Peter Sieyes (AVP Head of Consumer Marketing and Innovation) emphasised the sentiment of the evening was one of openness (in shared experiences and learnings) and debate (around solutions and approach).

Rachel shared Unilever's experience from the beginning of the programme, as a formative marketing data strategy around connecting with consumers and some of the catalysts for this change, through to some of the learnings and pitfalls when it came to aligning internal and external stakeholders and implementation of the required infrastructure, process and people talent.

As a synopsis of discussions around the subject matter, as expected, the room of experienced practitioners largely agreed on the key challenges and success factors faced in their organisations:
• Clarity of business-driven requirements
• CMO/CIO alignment
• Data quality and integrity
• Finding new insights from the data (without knowing the question)
• Simplifying complexity using simple visual representations of core transformation concepts/benefits
• Talent recruitment/management

The most interesting dynamic over the course of the evening was the differing opinions on the priorities and interdependencies between these above challenges and factors.

For example, the most discussed and contentious (at least to the IS-oriented part of the audience) was whether the data infrastructure was either the most important or even first consideration to solve/implement as opposed to thinking through the "people" programmes (both internal and consumer-facing).

Another "hot topic" focused on talent and skillset. Whether it was right and realistic to recruit for or to convert essentially branding-oriented marketers (used to working on instinct and gut feeling) into quantitative data-based marketers, numerate and data literate enough to make insights-driven decisions. Or whether this should continue to be the realm of people resources outside of brand marketing (be it within the same organisation or via a third party partner).

Understandably, I don't think we managed to put to rest the world's data problems by the end of the night and invariably, the networking dinner event probably ended up raising many more questions than answers for our participants. But almost with certainty everyone walked away with a different perspective than at the start of the evening and in time, we will follow-up to see if their individual but similar journey to data centricity has taken one (or many more) steps forward.


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