You Can Journey That

By February 13, 2018 No Comments

A guest post by Lori Bieda, Head, Analytics Centre of Excellence at BMO Financial

Everybody, everything is on a journey – having come from somewhere or en route to somewhere else. We have a saying in our analytics team, “You can journey that!” which cuts to the heart of what it means to embrace journeys. It stems from an inherent understanding that there’s nothing more precious in the world that data, and viewing data in context – in journey – reveals a story. And it’s our job to decode that.

We consider ourselves one part analyst, one part storyteller. Einstein, Steinbeck.

Who said data science ain’t sexy? Pas moi.

What’s a journey?

The world has fallen in love with journeys. If “optimization” was the geek word of 2000, customer journeys is the new buzzword of the times, but with it comes massive confusion because the world has approached journeys in different ways for decades. Only now, big data and analytics prowess has brought us to the point where the idea of journeys meets potential, and analytics begins to unblock the business potential in the data. 

So what’s a journey? A journey is a path. Journey analytics captures that path in data. What actually happened; the path most taken, least taken, and most likely to be taken. Often people think of a journey as being about a customer, but it doesn’t have to be; it can be an employee, or even a process.  

Over the last 20+ year’s I’ve spent a lot time leveraging what I’ll call ‘vertical analytics,’ meaning looking at things that happened in a function, like propensity to buy, or probability to default. Isolate dependent variable, model backwards. We’d isolated variables highly correlated with an outcome and through modeling, translated those factors into co-efficients, but we were less concerned with the path one took to get there, even though, as we scored people along the way, probabilities would often rise or fall based on their path, or space in time.

With journeys, the very premise suggests that you are a sum of your parts, and that the point at which you are at today is a reflection of that. So, it made sense to model that way too!

And journey analytics does that, it acknowledges that history shapes people, and takes that into account when it considers where they are today. It’s a very human approach to modeling and analytics.

Stories that bring business problems home

Journey science appeals to the storyteller in me because it makes business problems human. I can take my facts and create a narrative, complete with high points and low ones, that help my company understand, in a personal and approachable way, what is happening to our customers, employees and processes. It punctuates the sentences with ample facts along the way that allow you to see where people went on side-journeys, who “paused” along the way to smell the flowers, and who got held up in an unintended “accident” that took them completely off track from their intended goal.  

It brings business problems home.

How my own journey made me take a second look

One evening, I was moving money around using our banking app. But in that particular moment, I was just a customer using touch ID, transferring funds, and logging off … and I’d run into some snags. It was frustrating. So, back at the ranch, I asked around and we looked into the source of the snag, then asked ourselves the honest question: if me, then how many others? We discovered that there were thousands of others attempting what I had tried to do online, and then began root-causing the issue and working to resolve it.

To the naked eye, or with traditional analytics, a person who moves money around in an app, pays bills through the website, calls a contact center, and shows up in a branch three days later, may not be recognized as someone working on one transaction. But the customer certainly sees it that way. We are one brand – a connected experience. Journey analytics enables the connected experience.

We had been completely unaware of this particular source of digital leakage and it was not until we looked at the overall journey that we were able to spot the issue. The vital fix in functionality was easy to implement, but it had been all but invisible to us until we looked at the entire journey, rather than discrete events.

Every brand on the planet should care about journeys

People have energy that drives them relentlessly forward from some place they’ve already been, to someplace new. Journey analytics captures that continuum and lets us explore how momentum shapes how people think and feel. That is the root of connecting with people and why every brand on the planet should care about journey science. 

At my bank, journey analytics drives investment choices, business prioritization, and the composition and direction of the agile teams where people spend their time. It is the fabric of our customer experience agenda, and our digital acceleration agenda. It is the food that nourishes arming us with the facts to make smart choices on behalf of our shareholder. 

It can work in any business or industry that accepts the fact that the first place to look for answers is in their data.