Theme 7: Prototype, Pilot, Scale
Edison did not invent the light bulb. He took a working concept and developed hundreds of prototypes rapidly, tested them and along the way figured out improvements that were required to scale his invention for commercial use. Julian Trubin writes about the prototyping process:
In 1879 Edison obtained an improved Sprengel vacuum pump, and it proved to be the catalyst for a breakthrough. Edison discovered that a carbon filament in an oxygen-free bulb glowed for 40 hours. Soon, by changing the shape of the filament to a horseshoe it burned for over 100 hours and later, by additional improvements, it lasted for 1500 hours.
Edison’s primary contribution to the development of light bulb was that he carried the idea from laboratory to commercialization, taking into consideration not only technical problems, but also issues like economics and the manufacturing of bulbs.
We took a leaf from Edison’s book when we developed, our prototype, pilot and scale approach to deploy analytics solutions for clients.
In our experience rapid prototyping is essential to show the value of the initiative to senior executives. One of our health care clients wanted help in institutionalizing data driven culture within its sales organization especially in identifying and focusing sales effort on high potential customers. At first, we developed a prototype predictive scoring model to identify the high potential customers. Mapping the results of the model to existing effort demonstrated that greater than 50% sales force time was used ineffectively and the client was leaving a lot of dollars on the table.
However, for organizations to see bottom line benefit, adoption of predictive analytics based solution is key. Piloting helps refine the prototype and plan for potential adoption pitfalls amongst the end users. At our healthcare client, we knew that there were skeptics amongst the sales people who do not trust the model and there were change management blind spots which we wanted to discover prior to the national roll out. We designed a pilot with the following objectives:
- Prove the validity of the predictive model
- Create evangelists from the sales team of the pilot regions
- Identify the big data gaps and establish a process of continually refining CRM data
- Establish and refine the key performance metrics to report to senior management
- Understand the key questions and concerns of the sales team in adopting the system
We collected a lot of rich quantitative and qualitative data during the pilot phase, which conclusively proved the value of the predictive model but also provided us with insights to incorporate into the roll out process. For instance we learned that in a few instances customer address data was not getting updated in the data warehouse and that sales managers wanted to understand the factors that went into calculating the predictive score of customer before they felt comfortable using it.
Scaling the pilot requires cross organization coordination and strong program management to ensure that the pilot learnings are incorporated in the roll out, there is a positive word of mouth buzz for the solution and there is minimal impact to day-to-day business. The inputs from pilot helped us better design the compensation rules and reporting metrics, which helped us roll out the system which head the trust of the sales force.
Our client saw significant uplift in revenue in the first 3 months of rollout. The sales organization started realizing the value of data driven approach and hired a team to support other sales analytics initiatives.
Are there other tips and tricks which you have successfully used to deploy predictive analytics solutions?