Out with the old, in with innovation
Sarah Turner, head of business intelligence and insight delivery at the National Trust, explains that Mr Preston’s experience was far from unique: it was emblematic of a wider issue within the organisation. “We knew we needed to do more with our data, and there was broad agreement across the various arms of the organisation that investing in a better data analytics system would enable us to be more effective in delivering far-reaching positive change.”
The goal, explains Christina Finlay, director of data and insight at the Trust, was to become a data-enabled organisation. “For the Trust, this meant being evidence-based in the way we make our decisions and enabling all employees to be informed by data in their decision-making”.
Over a period of just 18 months the National Trust has done just that, integrating a visual data analytics platform across the business to make it both quicker and easier for employees to get the insight they need. “When you implement any large-scale operational change in a company,” Ms Turner says, “you expect to encounter some resistance. But in our case, it was the opposite. The technology was so intuitive that almost straight away people were reporting an improvement in their job satisfaction, even among those whose jobs were not desk-based”. Ms Turner believes that the key to success was in the application of change management theory. “We identified change champions who were bringing diverse levels and departments together in a cross-functional project team,” she explains, and implemented changes based on their examples of success.
The biggest impact was how the new data analytics strategy empowered workers, no matter their role, to make data-based decisions on their own. The effects reached even those working outside of the central office. For rangers like Mr Preston it has meant less time sitting in front of a computer and more time focusing on conservation. “In previous years I would have been biting my fingernails and asking lots of questions of others,” he says, “but now the software allows me to find those answers myself”.