It’s a scene familiar to anyone who’s sat through a long work meeting – you reach the point in the agenda when “data” starts being mentioned and you can hear a collective sigh.
Whether it’s financial figures, a breakdown of sales, or information from the IT department, you look around the table and see eyes starting to glaze, people looking down to find that their shoelaces are suddenly fascinating, or some surreptitious checking of e-mails.
Ed Broussard has a very different attitude towards data. As the chief executive of data consultancy firm Mudano, Broussard is on a mission to change the way companies use data, both in their business decisions and in terms of how they manage their change projects.
In fact, Mudano’s whole philosophy towards data flips the very idea of what data is and what it can do for organisations. The Mudano journey is steeped in the idea of “wasting less and doing more”, with data right at the heart of it all.
Broussard, along with his fellow company founders – chief delivery officer Sandi Chanda, chief technology officer Andrew Mantilas and chief strategy officer Jonathan Summers – all come from a traditional consultancy background. They had been left frustrated at the way in which financial services companies were wasting huge sums of money and time on IT, digital and other change projects, which didn’t deliver value.
A culture of waste and mediocrity had seeped its way into the industry; the quartet could see that firms were stagnating because they weren’t adopting the new technologies that were revolutionising other sectors. They believed they could use data and artificial intelligence to not only solve their clients’ business problems, but also to transform the way their projects were managed.
To solve the problems, the four founders teamed up and created Mudano, which now has offices in Edinburgh, London and Goiânia in Brazil.
The firm recently created 40 jobs in Scotland’s capital after being awarded a £2.6 million research and development grant in October 2018 by the Scottish Government as part of a bigger £6.9m investment to build “Sharktower”, the world’s first data and AI-led project management software.
“We apply data and scientific techniques to the way we manage change, in what we call ‘delivery science’,” explains Broussard, who has registered it as a trademark.
“It underpins everything we do, and we believe it will transform our industry.”
Broussard says terms like “data culture” and “delivery science” are not simply new corporate buzzwords for the advanced digital age, in the tradition of “blue sky thinking” or “boiling the ocean”, but part of a company-wide approach to being different. “Data isn’t just about the future of business – it’s also the future of change,” he says.
“We use data to underpin decision making so data becomes part of our DNA, not just something we talk about. Establishing a data culture means taking a data-first approach across the whole business, not just in the data teams.”
The company isn’t simply about R&D for the future; it is already working with clients to put its processes into action. It’s helping firms to move past old-fashioned, options-led decision making into the data-driven world of today. “Changing the world” is potentially another one of those buzz phrases and it’s a phrase Broussard makes a point of clarifying.
“We’re not just another start-up with some vague ‘Let’s change the world’ mantra – we’re already changing it,” he explains. “We’ve got a team of world-class experts and we’re already working with some of the biggest financial services companies in the UK. I believe ours is the strongest financial data services team in the world.”
If “delivery science” is the technical or “brain” part of the process, then data culture is most certainly its heart. It’s perhaps what sets Mudano apart from other data consultancies. “When we first meet clients, instead of asking ‘What do you want to do with your data?’ we ask them
‘What do you want to do with your business, but at the moment you feel you’re being limited by technology or data or skills?’ By asking these different questions, we get to a fundamentally different answer,” explains Broussard.
The firm helps its clients change assumptions, beliefs and stories around data and its value so members of staff feel empowered to use data as an asset – not dismiss it as a set of scary figures.
However, as Broussard points out: “Building a positive data culture doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time and effort, and it means you need to give people the ability and freedom to apply data in their daily work. To understand and change culture, we need to understand and change behaviour, one step at a time. Like managing any behavioural change, it’s about motivations, triggers and rewards. Building a data culture then becomes part of a company’s digital transformation journey so when we dig deeper and start asking those different questions and proving to clients that transformational change can do so much for their organisation – that data and technology will help them to do their jobs better – then they get excited by it.
“Then data ceases to be about spreadsheets and PowerPoints in their minds – it becomes a real facilitator of change. Instead of pushing back or thinking that data is ‘boring’, people then say, ‘I want that technology for my part of the business, I want to be part of that journey’.”
For Broussard and Mudano, the journey to change the world through data has only just started.
Mudano has applied its data-driven, scientific approach in a wide variety of situations to help clients from across the financial services industry.
Customer journey dashboards
Customers interact with companies across a range of different channels and platforms.
These often do not interact with each other, which makes it difficult for those companies to see what is happening to a customer across any of the journeys they go on, from applying for a new product to seeking help with an existing product.
Mudano solved this data challenge for one of its clients and created a series of dashboards to allow it to see those interactions with its customers in a single place and gather insights about their journeys. The project took just 12 weeks and helped the client improve its service to customers by identifying problem points and taking action.
Predictive complaints analysis
Mudano helped a client reduce complaints by predicting when customers were likely to be unhappy. It analysed billions of data points, tracing back everything that happened to customers leading up to a complaint, then used machine learning to identify common events that appear to trigger grievances. The client was then able to remove these triggers.
Machine learning propensity model
Niche investment products can be hard to sell, with more than 90 per cent of applicants dropping out before making a purchase. Mudano developed a machine learning model, using previous customer behaviour to identify similar new prospective customers. In a test campaign, the model demonstrated impressive results, including an estimated 20 per cent reduction in application time for new customers.
Social media sentiment
Social media can give companies an immediate insight into the experience their customers have when dealing with them. Mudano created and implemented a natural language processing model to help a client evaluate customer sentiment about specific campaigns and their interactions with the company. This provided a view of both positive feedback as well as complaints, which allowed the client to improve the service it delivers to its customers.
Personally identifiable information
It is a regulatory requirement for financial institutions to protect sensitive customer data. Mudano created a machine learning model to improve the efficiency and accuracy of detecting personal information that could be used to identify an individual. Maintaining rules for detecting such information is complex and time consuming, and the model enabled the task to be automated and significantly increased the accuracy, reducing the risk of data misuse.
For more information, visit https://mudano.com/