Data Pulses to stimulate

Don’t over-monitor your goals


Leadership Tip of week #7

adapted from HBR

Having goals is a good thing. But the current trend of self-monitoring, whether through time trackers such as Toggl or fitness trackers such as Fitbit, means we’re constantly evaluating ourselves — the sales we make, the hours we work, or the miles we run.

Overmonitoring can get tiring and cause us to lose sight of what really matters. Avoid this trap by taking a more humane approach:

  1. Assess yourself. If you’re constantly measuring what you’re doing and feeling uneasy about things you actually want to do, it’s time to loosen up.
  2. Reevaluate the why. Think about whether you’re monitoring habits because they work for you or because it’s what you think you should do.
  3. Disappoint people. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the things people expect you to do and be. Let some of them go.
  4. Be brave. Stop looking at your self-worth as a scorecard.

Adapted from “The Perils of Overmonitoring Your Behavior and Goals,” by Elizabeth Grace Saunders

Defining your Brand Tone of Voice


The language of a brand is really decided by two things: where you are looking to position your brand in the marketplace; and the personality that you choose to adopt.

  • Brand leaders speak with authority and surety. Their language focuses on stability, history and confidence.
  • Brand challengers speak with defiance. They seek to challenge the way things are so their language focuses on change, hope and (sometimes) revolution.
  • Cult brands focus on exclusivity – so their language is peppered with tribal terms.
  • Artisan brands focus on craft and attention to detail so their language tends to be quieter, more insular and focused on the work.
  • Budget brands often use language based on frugality (how much you save) or generosity (what you get).
  • Quality brands seek to be steady and trustworthy.


In all cases, the language you use as a brand is directly aligned with your value proposition because, of course, language is a very powerful way of capturing and expressing how you see yourselves as a brand and how you want others to think and talk about you.

Personality picks up on these points of view and defines them more specifically. This helps brands in busy and highly competitive markets to distinguish their brand where there may be several brands competing in or for a market position. Here are three of the most important ways to evoke personality through language:


  1. Formality – the type of language that a brand uses is a strong indicator of the type of relationship it is looking to form with customers, and of how the brand sees the exchange between them and their consumer.
  2. Dialect – every brand should seek to own language of its own; a way of talking about what it does and what it stands for that complements the visual identity and adds color and texture in terms of how the brand speaks. Don’t just speak the industry language.
  3. Rhythm – every brand needs a speech pattern. It needs to speak at a certain speed, in particular ways, so that consumers consciously or sub-consciously ‘hear’ the brand’s voice in every interaction.

Once you know where you want to position your brand and you have established a personality that speaks to the strategy and distinguishes the brand from competitors, a really sensible next port of call is the frontline.

Speaking with colleagues is a highly effective way of gauging what customers are looking for in exchanges with the brand, what they like about how they interact now, and where they would like to see clear changes in the tone of communications.  Start inside out . These insights should then be applied to content and structuring of information as well as to tone.

Too often brands fail to make all these changes. They develop a new tone of voice to sit alongside their visual identity but they only apply it to a slither of the interactions they have with consumers.

When a brand fails to carry its new voice through to all its touchpoints, it quickly muddies expectations and experiences. Customers expecting the brand to behave in a particular way find themselves being spoken with in a different, often conflicting, way elsewhere within the same brand.

Here’s my rule. A brand may speak in multiple languages – but it should look as much as possible to speak in one distinctive tone of voice everywhere.

using my own data to tell my Fathers Day story


strava 1

The weather has suddenly turned on the Pennines and summer days arrive and I’ve started to cycle again , and connect with my friends across the country on Strava. This Sunday on Fathers Day I cycled the Turnpike Challenge over the Pennines along with 100s of Lyra Clad Fathers.  

STRAVA: the fitness app gives users access to cycling and running performance data.This is using customers own data combined with Google maps and geo-location to create tools and reports for themselves, a sort of Business Intelligence (BI) for customers or CI. Access is free initially but users can upgrade to Strava Premium for a small monthly fee with added features.

Strava focuses clearly on creating a great customer experience with a really simple sign up, and starting to get going, easy to use maps, and showing routes.

Users compete against their own personal best with friends or people they don’t know but run or ride the same routes as them. They can take part in wider Global community challenges such as last year just after the Nepal earthquake I was challenged to climb 29000 feet in a month on my bike.

Strava Premium users are ranked for routes of segments by day, year and all-time, and can win badges to improve their standing to become  “king of the mountain”. Difficult on popular routes easier if you can find a distant and less popular cycle or running route. Friends connected can give each other kudos for a good cycle.

strava 3    strava 2

STRAVA is also advanced in several other uses of data. It has world class use of segmentation to create relevant communication and improve the customer experience. The more you use Strava the more relevant the communication , linked to running or cycling.

STRAVA links members to the wider community by ranking performance against other users.strava king of the mountain

Challenges create personal competitions as well as a digital community supporting an event e.g. cycle climb 27000 foot to raise money for Nepal earthquake appeal.  Users can receive updates when their connections log activity and recently STRAVA launched the ability to message simply.

The STRAVA Community is a virtual digital community bound by the common interest of Cycling.



Tips to recruit top talent


Leadership Tip of the week

adapted from HBR

Whether you’re a founder of a startup, a young CEO, or a veteran leader, if you have big plans, you have one job: Put together the strongest team possible. Here are three concrete ways to attract new top talent:

  • Master the art of storytelling. Tell people what inspired you to start your business in the first place. Others will only follow you if you really leave them with the impression that you yourself are completely captivated by the opportunity you’re presenting.
  • Don’t be a one-trick pony. Every potential employee is different, so the way you can best get your message across will vary. Considering the candidate’s background and personality will give you insight into how you should deliver your message.
  • Never compromise. If in doubt, don’t hire. Your first hires are benchmarks for future hires; new candidates need to set the bar even higher.

Adapted from “6 Ways to Recruit Superstar Talent to Your New Company,” by Bastian Bergmann

DataIQ Summit 2016 thoughts

change reality

I have just spent a day at and spoke at the DataIQ Summit.  David Reed organised a broad church of specialist data leaders who shared their experience of transformation in data led organisations

I shared the stage with leaders from amongst others UK Government, Open Data Institute, The Guardian, Channel4 , Barclaycard Europe Npower as well as the inspirational Alan Mitchell and Inma Martinez

Whilst each speaker shared a different technical solution, there were several consistent themes

  • Customer First: around being given access to customers’ data is a privilege, so be innovative, be clear, bring the business along with you, put customers in control
  • Getting the full potential from data is a Cultural Transformation programme, start with People, Behaviours, Process and then systems and methodology.

I shared learning around how data is not difficult, and the challenge for organisations is improving data literacy. To gain permission and build confidence, you need to find the sweet spot of combining three different areas: be clear on the commercial imperatives, develop customer propositions that solve customer solutions that deliver against those commercial imperatives, and then align the technical teams ( IT, Analytics, developers) to develop the customer solutions that solve the commercial imperatives.

sweet spot

I used case studies from best practice examples how organisations developed through a Crawl, Walk and the Run methodology: (Disney, Sainsbury’s Obama and Trump, Starbucks, 7-11, British Gas, London Transport & Strava)

(check out detailed stories on my blog

In summary other speakers:

Sue Bateman at Government Data services talked through how we don’t just need a data strategy, we need a SMART one to avoid haystacks

Jenni Tennison at Open Data Institute: talked through Open Data is good, use it to innovate and grow. Give customers control, Be clear and add value.

Openness and transparency is at the core of Julia Porter @Guardian strategy for handling personal data.  Being given access to someone’s data is a privilege: Be clear open honest and put customers in control.

guardian datablog

Making Viewing more individual and personalised at Channel 4 Sanjeevan Beta explained how they evolved the customer value exchange using data driven approach to building an engagement ladder.

James de Sousa from Post Office talked through how they are on the journey to create a data driven organisation that is 350 years old and deliver on their purpose: we help you get life’s important things done.  He talked through 3 points to accelerate the change:

  • Push the customer agenda breaking down the product silos,
  • Development of an Agile Scrum process to drive rapid change,
  • Focus on commercial value to take people with you.

The new GDPR is a hot topic for organisations. Christine Andrew from DQM discussed how best to prepare and gave her view on 7 actions to focus on:

  1. Map data flows
  2. Map the customer journey
  3. Categorise and prioritise data by risk (not all data is equal)
  4. Review your partners. If they can’t tell you quickly how they are prepared push harder that’s where the risk is)
  5. Evidence your standards (lots will emerge from ICO, DMA etc)
  6. Ensure you’re are properly resourced for change
  7. Audit yourself to see how prepared you are.

Rob Kent talked through the Cultural Change Programme that the Royal Mail has been going through in the last 5 years. His learning was to focus on where you can create value to gain support in the organisation and at same time build a roadmap for new capabilities.

“the data to run our business would be the data to grow our business”

Rob’s 5 point plan for Royal Mail

  • Set up the Governance (data is a sign off for all investment proposals)
  • Understand data flows
  • Create people process and culture (centralised teams with similar skills)
  • Make efficiencies and invested in People & Skills
  • Invested in Technology and mandated people to use it.

Payal Jain at Barclaycard laid out a calm and measured but very passionate story of her journey at Barclaycard that make the kitten into a Lion.  She laid out the 4 key components she used to deliver the Analytical maturity curve at Barclaycard:

  • People
  • Behaviour and Culture
  • Data Capability
  • Analytical Methodology

Big Thought: It’s not the size of your data that counts: It’s what you do with it.

Two Thought Leaders stood out for me with the questions they posed:

Alan Mitchell at Ctrl+Shift talked about shifting the dial on customer data: debunking Data Constraints and Myths (More data is better, single view of customer is nirvana, more data means you are closer, purpose of data use is to improve the organisation) and laid out a future for data use :

  1. Safe by default,
  2. Leveraging Trust to build a shared relationship,
  3. Flip your data assets ,
  4. develop more information services with the customer.

Certainly a thought piece for creating a different relationship with customers that industry leading organisations should be adopting.

Inma Martinez was an inspiration. She laid out the Brazilian idea of happiness everyday not compartmentalised and set the challenge: “Are you only trying to make sense of the present… what about the future?”

Data is worthless without contextual assumptions: She talked through her experience of creating transformational insight using data through mixing people in a team to randomly collide and increase creativity. The right People teams drove change.


Three tips:

  • Don’t just analyse the present 2D predict the future 3D
  • Accept messiness
  • Uncover anomalies / deviations which will become trends

Inma is currently looking at the worlds Social Media (Disambiguating the present) to understand the sentiments that are driving people so that Data intelligence can be used to drive product innovation not just marketing. Watch out women control 75% of decisions!

One final point should go to David Reed chairing the day who is championing gender diversity in the Data industry: the speakers at the conference were equally spilt male/ female. A deliberate choice and we should all applaud David’s passion and drive to address the imbalance of women in data industry



Taking data into communities

nike plus

Similar to Strava, Nike+ Running is a fitness tracking app which measures and records running and cycling activity.

nike 1

While the playback of exercise data to users is considerably less detailed than Strava, Nike+ has committed more energy to connecting real world communities with Nike+ Run Clubs and Training Clubs. Run Clubs are for all kinds of runners, with different types of run – Long Run, Speed Run, Track Night and more – designed to help runners achieve their personal goals. Separate to the Running app, Nike+ Training provides over 100 workout routines catering to different needs: Get Lean, Get Toned, Get Strong etc. at beginner, advanced and intermediate levels. Users can share their workouts, see how their friends are doing with their own training programmes and give and receive messages of encouragement.

nike 2

The Nike Training Club puts on free exercise classes in city locations (typically parks and shops) and also feature in some paid-membership gyms. These classes bring together people of all types, regardless of ability.

Nike also stage real world events so that the digital community can become a physical community.

Mike and I both Run Hyde Park and run around the same time.

Nike+ invite us to a NIKE event in Hyde Park,

New Data Laws in Europe

EU Directive cartoon-proposals

#DataPulse 77

It has been over four years in the making but the EU Parliament and Council have finally approved the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) after the EU Council of Ministers approved the final text last week.

The compromise agreement reached just before Christmas has remained intact, having been agreed by both the EU Council of Ministers and Parliament. Today’s decision means that the GDPR text will not be amended further and is now in its final state.

A two-year implementation process will begin once the Official Journal of the EU publishes the regulation – the final step to complete before the regulation becomes EU law, though whether that is published before the 23rd June EU Reforendum in UK we’ll wait and see.

The real work for European organisations will now begin. The task of picking over the legislation and interpreting what its real impact will be is now underway.

The ICO who has been heavily involved in consultation and done a great job in the last 3 years will publish its guidance

10 Things that you need to know before ICO guidance comes:

  1. It’s a regulation not a directive so passes straight to law in all 26 EU countries
  2. Data processors will be responsible for data protection
  3. The regulation has global ramifications ( 23rd June vote will not impact UK)
  4. Users will be able to make compensation claims
  5. There are tighter rules on transferring data on EU citizens outside the EU
  6. Harmonised user request rights
  7. New Rights to be forgotten
  8. It’s data controllers responsibility to inform users of their rights
  9. Tougher sanctions- E100m or 5% of global turnover
  10. Encryption and tokenisation can come to your rescue

The Principles of the new Directive are good for customers and good for all of us 450m EU citizens: My data is my data and organisations need to treat it thus

  • Transparency of use to individuals,
  • Data use for specified EXPLICIT and LEGITIMATE purposes only
  • Proportionality

Overall this is good for customers, good for responsible organisations and with 2 years before the directive becomes law there is time to prepare ourselves and use this as an opportunity to build consumers TRUST in an organisation.


Look out for future Blogs on explaining the detail and how to prepare using ICO guidance

Speaking at BRC Insight Conference

change reality

In a time of transformational change, an improving economy, and dynamic technical advances retailers are facing a number of significant challenges as well as opportunities. Leveraging customer insight to build a competitive advantage is now a necessity but often the question remains of how to turn data into actionable insight

I have just spent a day BRC Insight 2016 conference organised by British Retail Consortium and attended by key insight professionals as a speaker and panellist.

I opened Keynote Presentation about how using data is not technically difficult the challenge is around building data literacy. People, Process and culture not the technical implementation.  Finding a sweet spot that combines delivery of commercial agenda, by building relevant customer propositions through technical use of data is the utopia that can be achieved. Four uses of data emerge and I then illustrated the story through case studies of organisations who have made the change in People and Culture and become data driven organisations: Disney, Sainsbury’s, Walmart, Starbucks, 7-11 and Strava amongst others. Check-out case studies on

sweet spot

Martin Newman CEO PRACTICOLOGY made a Chairman’s address to set the scene for the day. With over 30 years’ experience in Omni channel retailing, and a friendship with Tim Berners-Lee, Martin laid out how Digital and Data skills should not be in silos in organisations, and DIGITAL/Data should be distributed as a core skill around the organisation which needs to structure around the customer. Bring back good old fashioned personalisation like the Walton’s, where they knew you well. Burberry have started to do in-store personalisation for customers through store colleagues, and assign dedicated staff members to every on-line order.   The customer is now 100% in control of when and from where they buy and retailers need to recognise that in their behaviour.

waltons shopkeep Ike Godsey

Tom Feldmann CEO Brand Alley talked how customers have become fickler and retailers have to be more relevant to them and collect data from every touch point. Brand Alley is a pure play on-line membership retailer with 2m upmarket members. They sell end of season lines for luxury brands and recruits new users for those brands (check them out on


Over Coffee the discussion with Richard Baker (chairman of Whitbread and DFS) who I worked with at Sainsbury’s  reinforced how retailers need to use data to improve increased humanisation taking personalisation of the experience back to a human interaction either on digital or face to face. Very relevant for Costa and Premier Inn amongst others.

richard baker


Yossi Erdman from talked through how they have kept very closely focused on the commercial imperatives in UK’s largest digital white goods retailer, and developed a customer proposition that is more than just price, making white goods products sound interesting, and bringing the service they provide to life.  Good examples of listening to the customer and engaging colleagues in a positive way. Focus on real people , the customers of and let them tell their own stories. Simple yet very effective. 2

John Bovil IT and Ecommerce Director from Monsoon Accessorize talked through the challenges they face joining the dots for members and transitioning from a multichannel retailer to a connected enterprise.  IoT will create so much data that organisations will start to creak and break in the new connected world and they are moving towards the utopia of data & analytics available any-time, anywhere for colleagues through the eyes of the customer.

A common theme emerged across all the presenters and delegates around the challenge in making Process and People changes to change the Culture in an organisation to be more customer focused. Increased listening at pace, together with an increased level of personalisation will drive more customer centric colleagues and organisations.

Use Structured debate to avoid Groupthink


Management Tip of Week

Adapted from Harvard Business Review

To help your team respond to emerging threats and opportunities while avoiding the dangers of “groupthink” — teams or organizations operating on autopilot — hold frequent, structured debates.

Randomly assign different team members to argue opposing points of view. Then, at a regular team meeting or an offsite, set up a debate with scenarios such as: “Our organization’s mobile app will be obsolete within two years. Here’s what will replace it, and here’s what we need to do now to survive and thrive.”

Ask half the team to argue why the current mobile app is sufficient, and the other half to argue how and why the mobile app needs to be changed.

Debates like this can help overcome people’s reluctance to ask and answer tough questions about how the world has changed or is changing, and how the organization needs to evolve accordingly.

Adapted from “How Structured Debate Helps Your Team Grow,” by Ben Dattner

12 Steps to Data Heaven

EU Directive cartoon-proposals

The new General Data Protection Regulation will become law in June 2016 and organisations have only 2 years to implement changes to be legal and compliant.

Here are 12 steps to take now : endorsed by Christopher Graham  and the Information Commissioner’s Office  ICO.

1. Build Awareness

You need to ensure that CEO and Board members and key stakeholders are aware that the law is changing to the GDPR , and appreciate the impact it’s likely to have. Many organisations I have been talking to aren’t aware at a Board Level of what is coming

2. Document Information you Hold

You should document what personal data you hold, where it came from and who you share it with, probably need to organise an information audit

3. Communicating privacy information

Review all current privacy notices and put a plan in place to put changes in place now so that data collected for the next 2 years is valid once regulation implemented

4. Individuals Rights

You should check your procedures to ensure that they cover all the rights individuals have , including how you would delete personal data or provide data electronically and in a commonly used format

5. Subject Access requests

Will not be able to charge so they will increase in volume: Plan how you will handle requests within the new timetables ( a month) and provide any additional information. Thought leading organisations may automate SARs to allow any customer to see all the date help on them

6. Legal Basis for processing Personal Data

Look at the various types of data processing that your organisation carries out, be clear on the legal basis for carrying it out and document it

7. Consent

Review how you are seeking, obtaining and recording consent, and agree how you need to implement any changes

8. Children

You should be looking at putting in systems and processes to verify individuals ages and to gather parental or guardian consent for data processing activity

9. Data Breaches

Any Breach no matter how small or sensitive needs to be reported. Review procedures in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach.

10. Data Protection by Design and Data Protection Impact assessment.

Familiarise yourself and organisation with the guidance from iCO on privacy

11. Data Protection Officers

Designate / Recruit a Data Protection Officer to be responsible for data protection compliance and assess where role will set

12. International

If your organisation is international be clear where your home supervisory body is that you come under.

Best Leaders keep an Open Mind

faces 2

Best Leaders Keep an Open Mind

Leadership Tip of the week #5

adapted from Harvard Business Review

We often think of great leaders as having the conviction of their beliefs—they’re not pushovers. But the most successful leaders actually show a willingness to be persuaded. How can you do this, particularly on issues where you’re not objective?

  • Keep your hand on the dial. When debating a decision, envision turning a dial: all the way to the right represents absolute certainty, and all the way to the left signifies none.
  • Recall a moment of opacity, when you couldn’t see a situation clearly, or when something you were so sure was right turned out to be wrong. Whenever you’re feeling overly confident, remind yourself of that moment, and seek counsel.
  • Kill your darlings. It can be tough to change your mind about long-held beliefs. But the quicker you acknowledge that an idea (even a beloved one) is unworkable, the sooner you’ll move on to the right course of action.

Adapted from “The Best Leaders Allow Themselves to Be Persuaded,” by Al Pittampalli

Data driven Foxes win

I have a confession: I am a Leicester City Fan. It started when I was 11 and went to Filbert Street watching Gary Lineker play. we were 2-0 up and I was hooked. We lost the game 6-2 and so began my love-hate relationship with The Foxes.

When the Premier League season began in August Leicester City were favourites for only one thing – relegation. They had only just survived the drop during the previous season and their manager had recently been sacked after a team scandal. To make matters worse, Leicester had appointed Claudio Ranieri as his replacement. The Italian was available after being fired as manager of the Greek national team following a humiliating loss to the Faroe Islands. Little wonder then, that at 5000-1, Leicester winning the Premier League was seen as more unlikely than the Second Coming of Christ by most British bookmakers. You could get better odds on Jeremy Corbyn winning Big Brother or Alex Ferguson winning Strictly. 

If only I had Believed and Kept the Faith and placed the bet,

At the end of the season Leicester City have won the Premier League, with 2 games to go. 

It is a remarkable story and one that marketers should pay special attention to based on 3 simple rules Ranieri applied:

  1. Clear data-driven Diagnosis,
  2. Distinctive Strategic Plan,
  3. Strong Tactical Plan executed with Excellence.

Clear data-driven Diagnosis. In Ranieri’s initial days at Leicester he had arrived with some clear notions about how the team should play. He talked to the players and looked at all the data-driven analytics of the way they played, and realised they didn’t want to and couldn’t play the Italian system. I have great admiration for those who build new tactical systems, but I always thought the most important thing a good coach must do is to build the team around the characteristics of his players.

The secret to future marketing success is data-driven diagnosis. It’s crucial not to arrive with established strategic approaches and prior tactics already in place. Listen. Drill into the data to understand the picture. Understand the new brand, the organisation behind it and the consumers that buy it. You only ever get one chance to perform a proper diagnosis so take your time here. Look for good secondary data, study the brand history and do as much in-market ethnographic work as you can. Ranieri and Leicester City were using the latest data driven techniques to understand the strengths of each individual player and build a clear data driven diagnosis.

Distinctive strategic plan Ranieri quickly realised from his diagnosis that his new team was not exactly skilled in the art of possession football. Leicester’s starting eleven cost a total of £22m to assemble; that’s about half a Rooney. Ranieri realised he would not win anything if he tried to play the game like everyone else. Instead, he gave up on possession football and focused on his team’s overriding advantages – speed and an inherent work ethic. Typically, when a team wins in the Premier League they have on average 60% to 65% of the possession in matches. Leicester are winning each week, often by several goals, with as little as 35% possession. Rather than control games, they use their speed and tenacity to break quickly with lethal counter attacks.

The real lesson here is to listen hard to colleagues and customers, drilling into the data, genuinely studying the situation and your strengths and weaknesses to identify a clear and often distinctive way to win in the market. Who will we target? How will we win? How can we play the game differently from the rest? These are the great strategic questions that set the direction for brand success.

lcfc ranieri strategy

Strong Tactical Plan executed with excellence: Leicester play long ball football to allow fast breaks. They harry and hassle their opponents until they can win the ball and attack immediately. Their star players, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, are encouraged to push forward and await the counter attacks that inevitably result from Leicester’s pressing approach.

The tactical execution and the tools you use can only be applied after a clear strategic approach has been decided upon, and must be executed with excellence.  Too many marketers are ready with tactical approaches but when you push them on the rationale for their execution it becomes apparent that the big strategic questions have simply not been asked.

Leicester have won the Premier League. the greatest turn around story. 

Claudio Ranieri should also be Marketing Leader of the Season 2015-16

Global Bike to Work Day 10 May

Strava is launching the first  Global Bike to Work Day Challenge on Tuesday May 10th,  #CommutesCount.  I’ll be cycling to work using Strava will you?

STRAVA: the fitness app gives users access to cycling and running performance data.This is using customers own data combined with Google maps and geo-location to create tools and reports for themselves, a sort of Business Intelligence (BI) for customers or CI.

Access is free initially but users can upgrade to Strava Premium for a small monthly fee with added features. Strava focuses clearly on creating a great customer experience with a really simple sign up, and starting to get going, easy to use maps, and showing routes. Users compete against their own personal best with friends or people they don’t know but run or ride the same routes as them.

Strava is a data company that collects members data and effectively aggregates anonomised data to improve the community and make a profit:


Strava Metro analyzes the millions of human-powered commutes uploaded to Strava every week, then partners with urban planners to improve city infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians using anonymized data.

strava cast of riders

Here’s how it all works:



More than five million rides and runs are uploaded to Strava each week, and in cities, the majority of these activities are commutes. These activities have created trillions of data points on where people actually ride, run and walk in cities.

In 2014, Strava launched a data service called Strava Metro. Since then, Metro has worked with over 70 organizations around the world to understand how more than a half-million bicyclists and pedestrians choose to navigate through cities. Each of these organizations is using the anonymized data to understand the general flow of people across their streets over time.


With data like this, cities can better understand how people choose to interact with the network of roads, bike paths and intersections. The result is improved decision-making, smarter planning, safer streets and more people biking, running and walking.

Better data is a catalyst for change.

strava bike to work day


Check out earlier Blog on Strava:


Data Driven Donald Storms Ahead?


data pulse #29

Donald Trump has been quietly building a data juggernaut like Barack Obama: defying sceptics he’s been putting tools in place to get out the vote and results from the states so far suggest he is pulling ahead as front-runner because he’s getting the vote out for his supporters.

In 2015 his campaign assembled an experienced data team to build sophisticated models to transform fervour into votes. The team is led by two low-profile former data strategists, Matt Braynard and Witold Chrabaszcz, and they are using the Republican Data Centre plus supercharging it.

The RNC Data Center 2016 is a powerful query and data management tool, providing an interface for over 20 years of voter contact data. This allows Republicans / Trump to read and write data to and from the platform, continuously serving up the latest information to Trump. If Trump wanted to find 10 people on a residential block that haven’t voted in the past 20 years, have strong views on conservative topics and don’t like the Affordable Care Act, they could do so in seconds.

The system is described as the ‘centrepiece of the RNC’s new data-driven political ground game.’ Voter scoring is employed to track each individual in for contact (by mail, door, phone) and whether they voted (by absentee or on Election Day). Advanced voter profiling even matches social data to voter data automatically

The data push is focused on integrating information Trump has collected, through his campaign website and at voter rallies, on nontraditional or unregistered supporters. It also includes commercial data obtained from the RNC and other sources, in an effort to mobilize voters in key early states.

A data driven Trump seems to be storming the Primaries (he won over 50% of vote in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island  with record turnout ) and into the White House in November.

Check out other Blogs : Data Driven Rednecks, Obama in Subscription Business

Using storytelling to kickstart engagement



Using storytelling and data to explain your organisations purpose is very effective with three levels “The Self”, “The us” and “the We”

Kickstarter is a crowd-funding organisation for the arts: the company’s stated mission is to “help bring creative projects to life” . 

Kickstarter is an enormous global community built around creativity and creative projects. Over 10 million people, from every continent on earth, have backed a Kickstarter project. Some of those projects come from influential artists like De La Soul or Marina Abramović. Most come from amazing creative people you probably haven’t heard of — from Grandma Pearl to indie filmmakers to the band down the street. Every artist, filmmaker, designer, developer, and creator on Kickstarter has complete creative control over their work — and the opportunity to share it with a vibrant community of backers.

Kickstarter has reportedly received more than $1.9 billion in pledges from 9.4 million backers to fund 257,000 creative projects, such as films, music, stage shows, comics, journalism, video games, technology and food-related projects.

Kickstarter uses storytelling to engage people .

It has an impactful way of asking people to join its team.

That narrative starts by having its founder tell the story of the company (the “self”).

Their website includes pictures and short descriptions of each and every company employee  (“the us”).

Finally, the narrative culminates its “now” call to action with a careers page asking: “Love Kickstarter? You’ll fit right in.”

These stories are most powerful when they are individually authentic, build to a collective narrative and values, and then seal the deal by asking the person reading, watching, or listening to join in.

Good Leaders have Good Personal lives

lifestyle family3

Leadership Tip of the week#4

Adapted from Harvard Business Review

Good leaders put aside their own needs for the good of the organization — but that doesn’t mean they completely sacrifice their personal lives.

Leaders who subjugate their need for exercise, sleep, and recreation eventually succumb to brownout: the graduated loss of energy, focus, and passion.

Burnout is often imperceptible to outsiders, but it affects a significant percentage of the executive population.

Today’s superstar leaders supplement their commitment to others with an equally important commitment to themselves. Whether it’s promising you’ll stick to your exercise routine, enjoy hobbies, eat dinner with your family, or reflect on what’s important to you, putting aside time for yourself makes you a better, more fully realized version of yourself.

Start by making one small but meaningful promise to yourself — and keep it.

If you’re successful, try another promise. It shouldn’t take long for the performance benefits to be obvious.

Adapted from “Treat Promises to Yourself as Seriously as Promises to Others,” by Michael E. Kibler

Talking Omnichannel


Last week I was invited to speak at The Executive Network’s Multichannel Customer Journey Conference in Royal Garden Hotel London , with James McClure General Manager Airbnb , Tamsin Todd MD Crystal Ski Holidays TUI and Adam Wilson from TheO2 amongst others.

The over-riding theme from delegates and other speakers was around making change happen. There is reasonable clarity amongst leaders in what is required to deliver an improved Omni-channel customer experience that drives growth. The difficult challenge is the How to drive change in an organisation at the pace required.

I talked about driving change in an organisation starts by having clarity on the organisations purpose and goals, aligning internally first, telling the story through multi-layers of Me, We and Us to align leadership, colleagues and customers to all become advocates.

To tell the story effectively three key areas need to be aligned to deliver an improved Omni-channel customer experience.

  1. clarity around the commercial imperatives that need to be delivered:
    • driving the bottom line by improving efficiency of the operation
      • by making it better for customer,
      • simpler for colleagues or
      • cheaper to run,
    • or driving profit by growing top-line customer numbers and L4L sales growth.
  2. Developing customer solutions that deliver those commercial imperatives.
  3. Aligning the Technical teams in Analytics, IT and development around an agreed customer solution that delivers the commercial goals.

Other delegates had examples that built on this theme:

James McClure from Airbnb aligned the organisation around a common purpose to “experience the world like a local”, working with partners renting space in their homes and using data driven analytics to improve the relevance for “renters”

Checkout my blog for more detail:

Adam Wilson from The O2 talked about how the whole organisation aligned around improving the customer experience because that drove repeat visits. The whole organisation focused on providing more information to visitors at key time. Data driven analytics and real-time data are used to continually make a visit better.

Abhi Chacko from Gatwick Airport had a challenge around limited capacity in a growth market that needed to be stretched. He talked through how they are using Open Data working alongside airlines like EasyJet to make the experience of visiting the airport better for customer by providing flight departure details on everyone’s phone app rather than searching for a departures board to find out when you have to go through, simpler for colleagues with Easyjet baggage dropping services and quicker which improved the capacity in a limited resource.

Tamsin Todd CEO Crystal Ski Holidays talked through how they improved the customer experience in an omni-channel environment, creating value for customers and driving incremental sales and efficiency.

Aligning organisations around the customer to deliver improved Omni channel experiences is definitely a challenge faced by many organisations and requires leadership on Exec board and beyond to drive change.

checkout my other blogs :

Data driven Red-Necks

donaldtrump 2

data pulse #28

The Republican Party after the second Obama 2012 election loss, fully reviewed and applied learnings ( and threw millions of dollars at it) They  have developed a sophisticated tool that any Republican candidate even Donald Trump and Sarah Palin can use, focused on the one strategic commercial imperative: winning elections

Republican Party created a permanent resourced Data Centre, with capability developed to support Republican Party candidates in county, state, senate and presidential elections. The RNC Data Centre 2016 is a powerful query and data management tool, providing an interface for over 20 years of voter contact data. This allows Republicans to read and write data to and from the platform, continuously serving up the latest information to GOP candidates across the country. If a candidate wanted to find 10 people on a residential block that haven’t voted in the past 20 years, have strong views on conservative topics and don’t like the Affordable Care Act, they could do so in seconds.

The system is described as the ‘centrepiece of the RNC’s new data-driven political ground game.’ Voter scoring is employed to track each individual in for contact (by mail, door, phone) and whether they voted (by absentee or on Election Day). Advanced voter profiling even matches social data to voter data automatically –

“We don’t just have the information they’re tweeting about, we can match them with their voting and purchasing habits in order to target them through email and social networks” said Jesse Kamzol, RNC Chief Data Officer.

Using powerful predictive analytics, the RNC claim that the Data Centre can tell a candidate, voter by voter, whether each individual is going to vote for them or not, and give reasons for each. At the macro level, this means they can identify how many votes up/down they are, which demographics to target, and then suggest suitable communications strategies to reach them.

This represents a long term strategic play for the Republicans: A permanent strategic and operational capability focused on a clear vision and goal and the right systems / processes /  people continually learning and reapplying lessons learnt. This was first piloted in 2014 successful senate elections where they won majority in both houses and is now being deployed for 2016 senate and presidential elections.

This demonstrates building long term capability in data can have big impacts… we’ll have to wait and see if the investment pays off in November 2016


Noticing Positive Things Decreases Stress

lifestle family

Leadership Tip of the week #1

adapted from Harvard Business Review

Over the course of a typical workday, negative and positive things inevitably happen — and many people focus mainly, or exclusively, on the negative ones.

But research has found that even small positive experiences are a valuable resource for reducing stress.

When people spend time thinking about what went well that day, their mental and physical stress levels decrease by small but significant amounts, and they have an easier time detaching from work.

Thinking positively doesn’t come naturally for most people:

We’re attuned to paying attention to negative things, which makes it hard to notice positive ones.

So instead of ruminating on negative events, make time to relive, enjoy, and share the positive events of your day.

Doing so creates bonds with other people and reduces evening stress, improving your sleep — and the better alertness and mood that result can lead to more positive things happening tomorrow.

Adapted from “The Powerful Effect of Noticing Good Things at Work,” by Joyce E. Bono and Theresa M. Glomb

Hitchhikers Guide to Disintermediation

Bla Bla1

# Data Pulse 42

When I was a student at Durham University  we’d walk up to the A.1 , stick out our thumbs and Hitch a ride south. Sometimes we waited for a long time, and sometimes we had a very odd ride, but we had time and little money.

I’ve just driven my daughter back to Bristol University and things have changed dramatically in the last 30 years.

Bla Bla Car is a digitally enabled ride-sharing network, connecting travellers who are making similar journeys so that they can save on travel costs and meet like-minded from trusted community of more than 20 million verified members. it’s a great example of understanding customers stories and then developing a brand story using data and digital that works for customers , fitting for them .

Drivers who want to offer a seat in their car submit the details of their journey online and set a price per passenger. Someone looking for a lift can then search the offered journeys and book a place. After meeting at an agreed point and completing the journey, the users then rate each other. The feedback system promotes trust within the community so that people can feel safe and secure when sharing a journey

Bla Bla 3

Bla Bla 2

A fast growing example of a community sharing organisation that brings together users with excess capacity for their capital investment (someones car) with a user who has a need for that excess capacity, at in improved value for money . 

Set the Right Conditions for Creativity


Set the Right Conditions for Creativity

Leadership Tip of the Week #2

adapted from HBR

There isn’t a magic formula for how to be more creative.

But you can deliberately craft the right environment for optimal brain health, which in turn makes it more likely for you to experience artistic inspiration or have that “Eureka” moment.

Start by taking better care of yourself, which means sleeping more (at least 7–9 hours), eating a well-balanced diet, and getting plenty of exercise — the basics for brain functioning.

You should also force yourself to take time to think and reflect.

Try a mindfulness course or some breathing exercises to reduce stress, stop fretting about your deficiencies and failures, and focus on what makes you happy at work.

The positive emotions that are generated when you feel connected to your personal and organizational purpose will help you think more clearly — and more creatively.

Adapted from “How to Free Your Innate Creativity,” by Annie McKee

Quick in, quick out. I like

Vikden groceries

#data pulse # 41

Easy in and easy out are key elements of convenience retailing, and Robert Ilijason a 39 year old IT expert has used digital and data to create the first unstaffed convenience retailer in a remote part of Sweden.

It was a chaotic, late-night scramble to buy baby food with a screaming toddler in the back seat that gave Robert Ilijason the idea to open Sweden’s first unstaffed convenience store.

Home alone with his hungry son, Ilijason had dropped the last baby food jar on the floor, and had to drive 20 minutes from the small town of Viken in southern Sweden to find a supermarket that was open.

Now the 39-year-old IT specialist runs a 24-hour shop with no cashier.

 Customers simply use their mobiles to unlock the door with a swipe of the finger and scan their purchases. All they need to do is to register for the service and download an app. They get charged for their purchases in a monthly invoice.

The shop has basics like milk, bread, sugar, canned food, nappies and other products that you expect to find in a small convenience store. It doesn’t have tobacco or medical drugs because of the risk of theft. Alcohol cannot be sold in convenience stores in Sweden.

“My ambition is to spread this idea to other villages and small towns,” said Ilijason. “It is incredible that no one has thought of his before.”

He hopes the savings of having no staff will help bring back small stores to the countryside, so you can have more distribution with longer opening hours in remote areas.

Ilijason receives deliveries at the shop and stacks products on the shelves. Then he lets the customers do the rest.

He has installed six surveillance cameras to discourage shoplifting in the 480-square-foot store. Also, he is alerted by a text message if the front door stays open for longer than eight seconds or if someone tries to break it open.

“I live nearby and can always run down here with a crowbar,” Ilijason said laughing, but added that hasn’t been necessary since the store opened in January.

A bigger challenge has been getting some of the elderly residents in Viken, a town of 4,200 people, to get the hang of the technology involved.

Tuve Nilsson, 75, said there were many more shops in the town when he moved here with his family in 1976. He welcomed Ilijason’s new store, saying it could be convenient for elderly people living alone.

“But if they can manage this (technology), I don’t know,” Nilsson said. “Sometimes I don’t understand it.”

Ilijason is considering other ways to unlock the door that wouldn’t require using an app. He’s ruled out face-recognition or fingerprint scanners, but is thinking of installing a credit card reader like some banks use. He’s also considering having one person man the store for a few hours a day to help customers who aren’t comfortable with modern technology.

Other customers loved the speed of the no-service store. Raymond Arvidsson, a friend of Ilijason’s, did his shopping in less than a minute.

“No queues,” he said, smiling. “Quick in, quick out. I like.”

Vicken sweden


Creating a data-driven delivery Service


data pulse #14

Data and technology can be used to make people’s lives easier, and continually tell the brand story to customers and colleagues. It can also be used to insert the brand story into customer’s own stories

Hate waiting in for a parcel ?

DPD delivery tracking now allows customers to track the van that will be delivering their package. The ability to view detailed delivery information – expected delivery time, queue number, the name of the driver and their precise location at any time – means customers have all of the information they need, visibility of the journey, and the most up to date expected arrival times.


This allows us to more easily plan our day and make sure they are at home at the right time – DPD’s delivery service is augmented with an information service so it moves from just being like another courier to being informed delivery, using data to build a brand story that is consistently delivered. DPD looked at the customer journey and customer’s story and used data and technology to create a role for the brand.

Data and digital has been used to create an added value service building strategic and operational capability that is driving L4L growth. it started with a customer problem that could be solved by creating a new data-driven added value service, that was better for customers ( less waiting in), simpler for colleagues ( more deliveries right first time) and cheaper for dpd, ( less miles per parcel =£££)

data used to create story in many brands

Many other brands have made this same link of data and technology to give customers control  in this way, be it Uber, Manchester Taxis. Retailers are also using it to improve internal effectiveness for customers:  Asda supermarkets track their delivery lorries  and let store colleagues know where and when they are arriving. this allows breaks to be scheduled and teams ready to receive, unload and refill the shelves just in time.

Another story of how data-driven customer thinking adds value.


Try this one as well:

Predictive analytics running shops


Apple & FBI

apple fbi.jpg

Tim Cook’s Battle with US Government is a masterful Marketing campaign that reinforces apple position in the David vs Goliath debate. A crusade, that reinforces rather that repositions apple as “a staunch advocate for our customers’ privacy and personal safety,”

This new David vs Goliath confrontation is merely the latest skirmish in an ancient war that once saw Cook’s predecessor, Steve Jobs, attack IBM, Microsoft and even Apple when he was outside the organisation. “Being hard doesn’t scare us,” Cook told the audience at Apple’s annual meeting. He’s not bluffing. Bloody-mindedness is part of Apple’s DNA.

Apple’s refusal to comply with a court order asking it to unlock an encrypted iPhone owned by terrorist Rizwan Farook also provides a major example of a rare positioning tactic – taking an enemy. Most marketers attempt to convince consumers what they stand for by communicating that message directly. Smarter brands look for an organisation that stands opposed to what they represent and then deliberately pick a very public fight with them to bolster their position in the market. Ryanair fought the big airlines to emphasise its competitive, cheaper credentials. Ben & Jerry’s took on Häagen-Dazs in the 1980’s to communicate its independent spirit and authentic origins. Now Apple combats the US Government to emphasise its liberal, independent streak.

Consumer privacy is already a core competence of apple.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which publishes an annual report on the big tech brands has consistently rated Apple as a “six star” operator, meaning the company adheres to all of the policies of transparency and privacy that the EFF considers best practice. That’s a significant competitive advantage over rivals like Google & Microsoft (3stars)  and Twitter & Facebook (four stars). The fact that all of these brands have recently announced their support for the stance that Apple has taken merely strengthens Apple’s position and its perception as the market leader.

This is a smart attempt by Apple to bolster its brand and further maintain its competitive position in the market. The fact that FBI and US government have backed down reinforces that factor even more.

Data driven vision for Social Security in Bolanzo


data pulse #32

SMART sensors keep Italian seniors living at home

There have been significant step changes in Healthcare in the last few years through their use of predictive and algorithmic data , data segmentation and technology to solve organisational problems

Limited budgets and resources posed a challenge for the city of Bolanzo, with elderly citizens representing almost a quarter of the population and nearly 50% of social budget. With ongoing medical advances, greater numbers of the elderly are living longer and staying in their homes, often alone. The city wanted to ensure their safety and provide the required services, but needed a cost-effective way to know when people needed help.

bolzano 2

The city has implemented an advanced mesh-network of sensors that monitor the home environment – temperature, CO2, water leaks etc – of elderly citizens living alone. Remote interaction with medical professionals via touchscreen and mobile devices provides healthcare advice, saving trips to the doctor.

The technology will also alert ‘angels’ – friends or relatives of the user – if there is a problem, so they can provide assistance until the appropriate services arrive.

This enables social service and health staff to concentrate on people who really need a physical presence with them, while maintaining excellent quality of life for those in the monitoring programme.

If you’d like to checkout a short film that talks it through, here’s the link through to youtube