Joining Cindi today is Scott Peck, the Senior Director of the Data & Analytics Center of Excellence at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), where he’s worked for the past 13 years. In that time, he’s played a vital role in revolutionizing reporting systems, as well as helped revolutionize the role of the data analyst. In today’s episode, Cindi and Scott discuss what it means to be an ‘Analyst of the Future’, their thoughts on leadership, and why data storytelling is a must-have skill.
Our mission statement right now is ‘Analysts of the future.’ Building analysts for the future … using the newer technologies, we are the ones driving insights across platforms… People come to us because we know data and we’re really good at it and our highest value is to be solving those business problems using the information that we have.”
Probably about eight years ago… we started saying, ‘What do we want to deal with for the future? Do we want, as a team, to be producing reports?’ We decided to change that strategy… We’re so good at producing reporting. Why are we not pushing the needle? Let’s start solving business problems. Let’s start explaining the whys.
Before, we were very reactive; we wanted to be proactive. So we started using some newer technologies… to say, ‘Let’s build business stories around our content.’ And it didn’t matter what system it came from, we said, ‘We’re going to try and get all the data we possibly can get, and we’re going to try to build a whole holistic story.’ I wouldn’t say that we were totally out of reporting, we were just starting to shift it differently with more purpose versus just pure descriptive.
You don’t need to create a whole dashboard to generate a cool insight. The businesses are changing so rapidly that you’re constantly in a rework mode with dashboards… because you’ll get it out and two weeks later it already needs to be changed again. So what’s the value in it? … [Instead], let’s look for the insights.
‘Analyst of the future’ is a strategy that we’ve been pushing for the last year. We have taken every dashboard developer and we said ‘All right, we’re going to train you to do something different. And my goal is to make every one of you a rock star analyst [so] that your name is known across the board because you know how to find the insights.'
Storytelling has become a big topic. That is a big space that we talk to everyone about. We actually teach this… we bring everyone into the room and we say, ‘We want you to learn to storytell and get to the point and focus — one graph can be more impactful than 20 graphs.’
Scott elaborates on what he looks for in terms of talent when recruiting for his team:
We look for people who are thinking about the customer experience heavily – I think that goes along with design thinking. One stat that I know going through design thinking: 86 percent of people will pay more for better experience. So we take that to heart whenever we build something.
I love what I do. You know what I like about analytics so much? Every day it’s a little different. It’s a very fun, evolving industry… Analytics is everywhere. If you look at the way things are moving – AI, machine learning – analytics is all baked into that.
We’ve really created a culture around ‘Let’s just do something different. Let’s change. Let’s be a change agent. Every day, let’s come in, let’s try to create value. And if our expertise is data analytics, then let’s do something cool with data analytics and bring an impact that will help somebody with something.’
When we say we did automation, we got very efficient. We built our own custom automation around Excel distribution… we would have these big days where we’d just mass-produce hundreds of Excel reports, and we got very sophisticated on how we’d do it. The problem we were struggling with – and why we centralized – is because we had so many people trying to build this on their own. So we decided to bring it in house and scale it, and that really was a big endeavor. But I will say we learned a lot in that piece of time because one of the things we did focus on was centralizing data… and built a warehouse that we still use today.
Scott Peck is the Senior Director of the Data & Analytics Center of Excellence at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), with a vision to build value for the company and its clients through analytics and innovation while promoting an environment where each team member acts as a confident, motivated, innovative leader essential to this vision.
In order to perpetually increase firm value, Scott had to disrupt the traditional Reporting Department. Upon being appointed, he and his team moved away from providing undifferentiated reporting services focused on the past and toward delivering something unique and special to PwC users — actionable insight. Their continued success in building value hinges on their ability to leverage data using innovative technology and Scott’s ability to develop leaders.
Creating and leveraging the latest technology has been instrumental in transforming Scott’s team into data experts that provide real-time, actionable insights. Scott recognized at the start of the transformation process that data was their greatest asset and that the vital first step would be to organize it for maximum value. Scott created myMetrics, an integrated analytics product to change the way consumers use PwC’s information. Scott and his team leveraged cloud platforms, APIs, and question/answer technology to become a “one-stop shop” offering predictive analytics.