Legal & General Launchpad powers up organisation-wide data science capabilities
“We will invest to help bring the UK out of the current crisis and data is one of the assets we can leverage to create new products and services.”
- Initiative generates wide L&G employee interest in data science to deliver insights which help improve customer experience and boost growth.
- Positive feedback from senior management and other staff underlines the project’s fast pace of development and first- rate NPS scores from participants.
- Multiple use cases with substantial business benefits have been identified for further development.
- L&G’s ways of working are being transformed with increased collaboration and the breaking down of business unit silos.
Putting data science in the hands of all staff
A bold project to develop data science skills across its workforce is enabling Legal & General to better use its data to create new products and services, as well as transform its ways of working.
By developing data science skills across its workforce, financial services company Legal & General (L&G) aims to vigorously challenge competitors, tackle new markets and build better experiences for its 13m customers.
Driving the ambitious initiative is Peter Jackson, Director of Group Data Sciences at L&G, a respected data science expert who joined the company in late 2018. Tasked to find new ways to take advantage of L&G’s substantial data stores, Jackson turned to NTT DATA to help him transform L&G’s ways of working by empowering personnel and championing a data culture.
“As well as gaining a better understanding of our customers to help improve their quality of living, we see potential to help address important areas such as climate change and investment in the UK economy,” explains Jackson. “We will invest to help bring the UK out of the current crisis and data is one of the assets we can leverage to create new products and services.”
Launchpad to turn L&G into a data-driven organisation
To overcome the challenges to improve L&G’s data literacy, Jackson worked with NTT DATA to engineer an approach that would make data science accessible and change the way L&G’s people think and work with data.
For Data Science L&G and NTT DATA aspired to:
- Challenge how things are done
- Change perceptions on the art of the possible
- Empower people to think and act differently
- Create a positive environment and safe space
- Allow people to test and learn, failing (if that is the outcome) fast
- Create a catalyst for change
As a long-standing L&G partner, NTT DATA offered proven data skills. “With NTT DATA we are working with a company that knows its way around data, enabling it to deliver benefits
quickly. We did not need to spend time upskilling NTT DATA people; they already know how to accelerate the use of Data Science. NTT DATA is a good, safe pair of hands with people who are ‘doers’, not just advisors,” says Jackson.
In August 2019, NTT DATA began work to help the L&G team create the ‘Data Science Launchpad’ as a first step for L&G’s vision. It aimed to validate the approach with a small number of stakeholders through a test and learn process, as well as generate interest from the wider organisation.
NTT DATA defined and provided three complementary services:
- A training workstream with a six-week bootcamp to help participants contribute to data science projects. A learning needs assessment was conducted before and after the bootcamp to produce a ‘heatmap’ of attendee progress.
- A prototyping workstream to create and deliver data science prototypes supported by NTT DATA personnel. The prototyping team engaged people across L&G to devise and qualify business opportunities to demonstrate demand for data insights.
- A tools workstream to give personnel hands-on experience with data science tools and public data. An online learning platform was also provided for training attendees to access materials and build a data science community
Rapid progress widely recognised
The Data Science Launchpad team engaged more than 110 stakeholders from across L&G. The training workstream achieved a 51% Net Promoter Score (NPS) from participants for recommending the training to a colleague, which is deemed ‘great’ in customer satisfaction terms. This was followed by a ‘world class’ 84% NPS for continuing their data science learning.
NTT DATA and L&G Group Data Sciences built on these successes to create a Data Science Launchpad brand in L&G and secure buy-in from the leadership. Particularly important was a conference in February 2020 for more than 100 employees, including senior management, focusing on data science, highlighting project progress and showcasing the Data Science Launchpad. “The NTT DATA-organised conference was important in raising the profile of data science and engaging people across the business. The feedback was that the pace with which the data science agenda is pushing ahead is remarkable,” comments Jackson.
NTT DATA subsequently delivered a further Launchpad iteration that refined the approach based on lessons learned and feedback, delivering a more comprehensive bootcamp and a data science prototype that demonstrated significant potential business value for L&G.
Use cases bring new insights
“From day one, NTT DATA understood what we wanted and how to bring it alive.”
Three data science prototypes were created with L&G stakeholders during the project. Examples included the use of natural language processing to classify and prioritise customer complaints, as well as a case that measured the effect of rainfall on UK house prices. NTT DATA also identified and qualified other cases, including one to identify workers likely to leave the firm to help human resources improve staff retention rates.
In total, the team identified more than 40 use cases from across L&G with potential to deliver business value. In addition, L&G is identifying and developing other cases such as a natural language processing application to predict and explain investment voting decisions.
Jackson says: “From day one, NTT DATA understood what we wanted and how to bring it alive. They would run with an idea and even if it did not work, they were agile enough to quickly change direction. They integrated easily with the L&G team to the point where many L&G people thought they were our employees.”
Growing data literacy, rising collaboration
While it is still early days and measurable business benefits have yet to be analysed, Jackson pinpoints how the work is already changing the way L&G people see data science: “Raising data literacy across the business has huge paybacks. People are talking about data in the right ways and how they can use it for the benefit of the business and customers.
“We have also seen how the project has helped to substantially increase collaboration. People from different business units who would never normally work together met for the first time at the conference and in the bootcamps. They have taken this forward and are continuing to work together using common tools. This has been a huge data transformation and data cultural change for L&G.”
L&G aims to now scale up data science across the organisation and further upskill staff to make the use of data ‘business as usual’.
“We now have to industrialise the Data Science Launchpad. We need to train more people and generate use cases. We spent six months working out how to do it, now we are working to enable the business units to do it themselves,” concludes Jackson.
Four tips to deliver data science success
“You need to upskill your people because there will never be enough data scientists available.”
The Data Science Launchpad at L&G underlined some lessons about the implementation of data science in any organisation. Peter Jackson identifies four key areas that require attention:
- Long-term commitment is vital. “It takes time to teach people. It’s important to realise this is a cultural change, but it’s vital because however awesome the tools, they are a waste of time unless people know how, why and when to use them.”
- Specialist skills are needed. “It’s essential to engage specialists who know how to do it – whether an external resource like NTT DATA, or your own people.”
- Keep communicating. “Keep telling people what you are doing, and the successes being achieved.”
- Education is essential. “It’s important to continually educate people in data science - what it is, why it is important, what it can do and how to do it. You need to upskill your people because there will never be enough data scientists available.”
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