Ammonite hosts: New vs Old Normal in the Covid-19 Data World

  • 16 April 2020
  • Zoom

New vs Old Normal In The Covid-19 Data World



Avi Marco, Consultant Data Leader, Ammonite Expert: Chair

Graeme McDermott @ Addison Lee: Chief Data & Analytics Officer

Jonny Bentwood @ Golin: Global Head of Data & Analytics

Elisabeth Osta @ Social Finance: CEO and Board Advisor

Allan Engelhardt @ Barnett Waddingham: Corporate Data Consultant

Sathya Bala @ Chanel: Head of Global Data Governance

Richard Cook @ Marsh Commercial: Head of Data & Analytics

Steve Jones @ MPB: Head of Data Science

Keith Robinson @ AmmoniteData: Director

Phil Marks @ AmmoniteData: Director


In our latest round-table discussion with Leaders in Data we chat about;

Revenge of the introvert

Forced (tech) adoption

Selfish to selfless

Get off your data high horse


These are the thoughts and comments that emerged …

The New Normal

Initially there was panic. Things have settled down somewhat but fear still rears its ugly head, permanently for some. In this environment it’s easy to jump to wrong conclusions. Data helps remove the emotion and make decisions more solid.

In the old normal, presenting well and having a great presence in face-to-face meetings was often what got you promoted. In the new normal, people who can write really well and put together very compelling and constructive narratives are shining and enjoying this way of working … a kind of revenge of the introvert.

We are all spending more time in our own headspace. Is that a good or a bad thing for creativity? There is now some breathing space to think more strategically. The digital divide between the haves and have nots has been amplified in the current crisis – it’s time for data and data strategy to show its worth.

How do we share creativity and ideas with other people? One the one hand, many execs are struggling to cope with this new way of communicating effectively with their remote teams and the water cooler conversations have stopped. On the flip side, people are being forced to be more technology literate and therefore possibly more data literate. A forced adoption. How can that be leveraged? It’s an opportunity to reinforce some messages about policies, processes and governance. But tools don’t bring you out of this crisis, people do, at least those that know and understand the data and can adapt to the situation.


Tipping Point

Asia is about nine weeks ahead of us so we can look to the East to see what will be happening in a few weeks’ time. We can learn from their analysis to see how things will come our way. One of the worst things we can do is just look internally and despair without putting some perspective on it. The data is there to anticipate where we will be going in the medium and longer term.

Where do we go to find the right data? The accuracy of the data that we have in order to present the new normal is a major issue. We sould be looking at how to map external data onto internal data to find new ways of working, taking the macro environment into account. Look at relative performance rather than just internal data. Get comfortable taking massive data sets showing how competitors and the industry is doing. The weighting of significance has moved massively towards external data. Will people, including governments, be more open to using external data sets?

For the first time ever, every brand is dealing with the same issue. A lot of people are thinking “just be calm and don’t do anything stupid”. But when we hit the tipping point and things start picking up again, a lot of the winners are going to be the people who move first. Use this time now to plan ahead.

Change is rapid and we need to get off our perfect data high horse. We don’t have time for perfect. We need to move at the speed of business, not the other way round. Directional data is often enough to make a business decision. Maybe the most strategic decisions take a bit more time but we can be quicker and we need to be agile.


Profound Effect

We have to embrace the change and ask what we can do. There is a growth of (virtual) community feel as people have gone from selfish to selfless. There is a need to feel part of a community more than ever before. Many of the Zoom meetings are much more focused and inclusive than previous office meetings. We’re creating ideas and concepts in quicker time than ever before.

Whist larger, more established businesses are looking at cost-cutting and stability, agile businesses are determining how they want to operate coming out of this crisis. People are going to be remote more and because executives are now behind that move there will be an acceleration in that direction. Businesses are going to look at the amount of real estate they are running with very closely going forward. Given a choice between getting rid of 50 staff or an office building is a no brainer.

Data has never been more important. There’s always the assumption that where I am right now is how it’s going to be in the future and because there is panic at the moment that feeling can dominate long term thinking. But, the choices we make as leaders in the next few weeks are going to profoundly affect our business in 6-12 months. We’ve got to provide the data to have that informed conversation.


Be part of the conversation.