Data Cultures Start with Data Customer Journeys

By: Eric Truntz, Senior Principal

The data strategies NEOS develops for clients in the insurance and financial services industries have taken on an interesting spin recently. We are engaged with a group of particularly strategy-minded carriers to develop data fluency across the business organization as a precursor to establishing an enterprise data culture. In such a culture, a notably broad collection of business personas are expected to derive and leverage credible business insights from available business data with minimal IT obstacles. As with any strategy that requires a transformative change in roles, processes, and capabilities, important decisions need to be made regarding the interactions, tools, standards, and methods that actors will apply to produce business outcomes. When the strategy requires cultural change, the stakes for acceptance and adoption of those decisions increase exponentially. So how do you proceed?

We have a long history of applying a proprietary industry-specific process that delivers ideal future state capabilities and maintains clear business value linkage at every step. Our FutureWeek offering has been employed by many leading insurance carriers to organize, prioritize, and execute strategies for new products, improved agent experience, and inorganic business growth.

We have also achieved outstanding success for our clients, turning this process inward to define and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of internal actors and personas. Here is how it works. We begin with a description of what a persona’s ideal contribution would be towards an arbitrary business outcome. For this discussion, let’s consider a business persona for a business data domain steward whose contribution towards a business outcome is to provide the right data to the right audience for the right purpose. Next, a data steward journey is developed and documented that articulates the particulars of how a steward produces that contribution. What are the steps, where are the collaboration points, what information is required, and what resources and tools come into play? Pain points and opportunities are discussed for each step in the persona’s journey to understand the steward’s experience and identify where and how optimization, automation, or both can be brought to bear to enable or improve it. In practice, since Rome was never in a day, opportunities can be ratified and prioritized to develop a persona incrementally.

Just as it is with external personas, developing an understanding of the journey for internal personas informs decisions that directly improve that persona’s experience. It’s important to remember that the best-engineered data processes and capabilities are meaningless without widespread adoption by the enterprise. In our experience, personas will always willingly adopt tools and capabilities that enable them to contribute more with less effort. In fact, that last principle is the key to establishing an enterprise data culture. Widespread adoption is the only measure of success when attempting to change the culture. So how does one influence adoption? As the steward’s journey is developed and understood, there are undoubtedly steps that are of interest to other surrounding personas.

The steps around accessing business glossaries, data dictionaries, and catalogs are almost certainly of interest to business analytics and actuarial personas, especially if the experience is positive. The development of additional data accelerates data fluency, and a more comprehensive data culture focused personas. In addition to data domain stewards, business data domain owners and product managers are emerging as prominent personas in business data domain teams. Developing journeys for each and radiating the shared steps and experience across personas are a tried-and-true means that propel data fluency and culture in any enterprise.

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