Big Data & Analytics Heroes

Alan Grogan

Chief Analytics Officer, Royal Bank of Scotland

"For building a more cohesive and successful business, the more customer facing everyone understands their role to be, the better."

This week's Big Data & Analytics Hero, Alan Grogan, chief analytics officer at the Royal Bank of Scotland, discusses the impact of big data and analytics on business strategy and beyond.

How have big data and analytics impacted how you do your job today?

With the unprecedented media coverage big data has gotten in the past few years, and the following wave of interest in all areas of analytics, I must say things have gotten easier for everyone working in analytics. In simple terms, people now get it quicker and understand that it is not just pie in the sky thinking by those data guys.

I remember when all the buzz was about single customer view and customer value based management. Many fancy job titles came about and big projects started to help the organization build intelligence on a customer base, but anything focused on joining these two things together to build out a holistic customer view was either thought too difficult, or it was not even on the table.

Today, things are very different. The collapse in infrastructure cost to turn data into insight and insight into real action has driven big returns both for customers and organizations. For the people who have either worked either directly in analytics or supported indirectly, the visibility of their role has elevated to a point that they are now seen as customer facing, and not just hidden away in the back-office. For building a more cohesive and successful business, the more customer facing everyone understands their role to be, the better.

How are big data and analytics changing your business strategy?

On the understanding that every business aims to operate in a stable and controlled environment, within business strategy we heavily rely on analytics across its three pillars of strategy formulation, strategy implementation and strategy review. I find in the market a lot of organizations do not give equal measure to these three pillars, but a great deal skip the benefits realization step within strategy review. I feel analytics should play a huge role in this area and give equal measure to all areas of business strategy.

When working in analytics you cannot jump straight into the numbers and facts, but instead bring your colleagues on the journey of what is (A) known, (B) understood and (C) what gaps exist. The greatest compliment you should expect is to be told that you are impartial to your surroundings. The analytics framework I work on aims to build on the principle that data + infrastructure + subject matter experts (SMEs) = data linkages. A weakness in any element weakens your business’ ability to turn data into strategy and then action, and I'm sure that if you don't do it your competition will.

How can big data combined with analytics improve the world we live in in 5 to 10 years?

Despite big data making massive inroads to help industry understand that there are many options open, I feel we still have not hit the peak. I see 2014 as being the year when those players who invested in analytics over the past two years will turn their competitive advantage into strong bottom line growth. As more and more businesses get and then buy in to the advantages of big data, I hope to see a world in five to 10 years where customer needs and wants are communicated to them when they require. Whilst this occurs, businesses are turning customer relationships into customer partnerships. When we see this we will be able to hopefully say big data & analytics has become a core competency in the market and not just the preserve of a few.

View all of our Big Data & Analytics Heroes here on the Hub, and look out for next week's Hero: Ben Alamar (@BenAlamar), rofessor of sports management at Menlo College and senior analytics consultant and data engineer Cleveland Cavaliers.