Data & analytics permeates the business, with the customer providing the most valuable business insight. We caught up with Mike Vos who heads up OpenServe’s customer experience initiatives
Thanks for your time Mike. Let’s kick off by finding out a bit about your background and how you ended up in your current role.
I started my career in the telco industry as an electronics engineer in the RF and wireless technology areas. This lead to technical product development for mainly broadband related products and innovation as well as systems integration. As software and systems became more prevalent in this industry I moved to an IT role as head of Enterprise Architecture. During most of this period developments were technology focussed, efficiency driven and financially evaluated from a business perspective. As competition in this industry increased and customer expectations became more important the focus had to change and everything became customer centric. To get customer feedback and input sounds easy but in a mass market like the telco industry the data collection and analysis becomes a challenging task. Through a new Customer Experience group I started the operations for the fixed line business on defining what we need to test with customers, the touch point identification and how to analyse and use this data. This function started the turnaround in the Telkom group where everyone had to start re-engineer processes and systems from the customer’s viewpoint.
What is the biggest challenge you face within your role today and how are you looking to tackle it?
Customers’ expectations are always increasing as they get accustomed to products and services. I guess this is what we call advancement or development. The evolving needs of customers always want new, better, more, cheaper and that drives innovation and competition. So the harder we work and the more we achieve the bigger the next challenge and the more we surprise ourselves with what we can achieve.
In what ways are you working with your business to help drive value? How is data being valued or prioritised in the business? And in which business area, function or metric, has your team made the biggest impact?
Our team is focused on Customer Experience improvement which means we work with all functions of the business. Using unstructured data in analysis and interpretation of it to identify the priority areas are usually challenged but when the frequency of events and alignment of data across large samples are highlighted the business see the value and trust the analysis. It is great to go back to business after a successful improvement project and show to them that the customers can see the improvement.
How do you interpret buzzwords like Big Data, digital transformation and artificial intelligence?
These buzzwords are new but data analytics is an old concept. What hypes it up lately is the fact that we gather now so much data and have the ability to store it relatively cheaply. To use these masses amounts of data and to derive business value from it requires skills and systems that were not part of many organisations before. The companies that specialises in these areas have the tools and experience to extract value and by using these concepts and technologies we are advancing development and improvement, it is therefore in everyone’s interest to get excited about this.
Talent is a big issue at the moment. When it comes to recruitment, what approach do you take to attract and keep the best talent? In what ways do you feel that the type of talent you are looking for within your teams has evolved over the past two years?
To appoint a pure data analyst does not work. The people who work in a big data and analytics environment need to understand and feel a connection with the business environment. Only when people understand the value they create with data will they feel they contribute and add value which provides satisfaction.
What was the wisest bit of advice you received from a mentor? What would you pass on to your mentees?
Coach your staff/mentees in what you do. Effectively make yourself redundant then you will naturally move on to the next challenge while creating opportunities for mentees.
What are you most looking forward to at the Chief Data & Analytics Officer Africa conference?
You always go to conferences to learn new things or better ways to do something and meet people that can add value to your life. What specifically interests me most about the CDAO conference is to get triggered on ideas that can change info I already have into knowledge I can use.