Preserving the cultural heritage of the UK
Retail, Conservation, Not for profit
Advise, Design & Build
Advised on data strategy, defined team operating model and led design for the single customer view.
National Trust is Europe’s largest conservation organisation, protecting 709 miles of coastline, 250,000 hectares of outstandingly beautiful land, 104 nature reserves, 6 World Heritage sites and more. This work depends on the active support of 5.8 million members, 20 million visitors, 60,000 volunteers and a team of over 11,000 people.
This team at National Trust wants everyone to be able to enjoy the amazing places they protect, have an unforgettable experience, perhaps a glimpse at the past – and ultimately love these special places as much as they do.
We spoke to Christina Finlay (Director of Data & Insight), Richard Clayton (Head of Data and Data Science) and Sarah Turner (Head of BI and Insight Delivery) about the work Cynozure has done with the National Trust on data strategy, their team structure, the way they work, and building the single customer view.
The National Trust engaged with Cynozure at a time when a fair amount of frustration across the teams had crept in regarding the performance of the data warehouse, and the effectiveness of the data, insight and analytics work being carried out. It was not clear where the challenges lay and what was needed to correct the problems.
At the same time the data science team was trying to push forward with some innovative new ways of adding value to marketing, digital, memberships and other areas of the business and to do that they needed a big shift in the data science toolkit they had access to but weren’t sure the best route to take.
Given this, they felt they needed help to take a step back and understand if they were on the right track or a total change in direction was required. Clearly changes were needed but as a collective they were struggling to come up with an effective plan.
Due diligence was carried out across the market and three organisations were invited in to discuss their quotes and approach. Cynozure had been recommended by one of the members of our team who was familiar with similar work that the Cynozure team had done with another organisation.
Christina commented, “We chose to work with Cynozure as there was a great culture fit, and they could work within our timeframe. The specific experience Jason Foster and James Lupton had from M&S was a bonus too. They had genuine first-hand experience of the single customer view, integration with marketing and all the other aspects of Data strategy.”
The initial engagement with Cynozure was to clarify the vision for data, define the strategy, get an agreed roadmap in place, and importantly define specific deliverables that would be achieved within the year. Richard explained, “The goal was to use this strategy to get better insight into the National Trust’s audience and use that insight to help deliver better services, engage with members, increase acquisition and retention.”
This helped get a business case defined and approved by the executive team. Which led to the creation of a collaborative working group between the technology group and the data function. The successful business case meant that the data team secured the budget to work on implementation of the agreed strategy, including developments to the Single Supporter View.
“The truth is that we were a bit shy of consultants following the bad experience we’d had with consultants that put in the data warehouse. But we were in the weeds, and working with Cynozure helped us to take a step back and look at the big picture.
So once we had that big picture in place, and a clear path to progress and success, we could get on with implementing the recommendations.”
Cynozure was subsequently engaged to provide technical leadership, solution architecture guidance and technical assurance to improve data management capability.
“Rebecca [Noonan, Cynozure Solution Architect Consultant] ran our internal development team and helped them to work in a more agile way, to create with new data sets, new data models and with DataOps principles. She also kept stakeholder management on track ensuring that everyone had the information that they needed when they needed it.
Over the course of 6 months we delivered the first 5 priority business use cases in the Single Customer View. This massively helped improve confidence in the data warehouse and the insight it could provide to our users.”
Along side this Cynozure helped to better define the approach to managing and prioritising demand into the central data function and its overall operating model.
“National Trust now has clear processes in place, along with new ways of working between the data and IT teams. Everyone is better able to deliver on requirements thanks to the agile methodology put in place and they have been able to increase velocity of delivery.
The organisation recognises that data driven marketing and decision making requires continuous engagement and iteration, and now allocates budget to invest in this way. These projects were such a success that National Trust has continued to invest in their data platform, seeing clear incremental value at each step of the journey. They have a structured way to reinvest in data products, and replaced 5 data visualisation tools, streamlining to just one.”
Richard commented “When Jason and James first came in they did great work in getting all the relevant stakeholders bought in to one method, and getting everyone aligned. Their collaborative approach meant that everyone’s ideas were heard, recognised and accommodated as appropriate in the roadmap. We haven’t had any problems arise in the 3 years since then.
They helped everyone understand what they needed to do. Stakeholders at all levels of the organisation were really bought in to the outputs, had clarity on what to do and the best way to do it.”
The engagement with Rebecca delivered enhancements that delivered real business benefits, including:
“It’s already underway, but National Trust will increasingly embed a ‘governance first’ approach to data – so as to avoid the need to fix things later. The time has also come to take a look at the technology used for their data warehouse and to start building out a new data warehouse. The remaining work is focused our culture, and specifically, data literacy. Helping the wider organisation better understand what can be done with data and the opportunities that it presents” said Richard.
Christina summarises “We’re keen to enable every one and enable ways of working using data to make evidence based decisions.”
“The National Trust is such a fantastic British institution that opens up our cultural heritage and helps create amazing memories. A long standing customer that has been able to make great strides in ability to use data to improve the outcomes of the organisation. We’ve supported the team with advice, and hands on help; but we’ve also watched with awe as they have continued to progress their journey through the years.”