Quick Bites – A Strategic Weapon for Data Literacy

Leadership Profile
Written by Des Friborg

André Vargas

Chief Data Officer

Creative Artists Agency

June 2020

As the head of data and analytics for Creative Artists Agency, André Vargas is no stranger to organizational change. Over the past few years his team has gone through restructurings, moving out of the IT department and uniting disparate groups to become a centralized data powerhouse. Now a strategic weapon versus a secret weapon, they are taking on advanced projects that impact business decisions at a high level.

But with the current COVID-19 crisis, there are a new set of challenges and opportunities for the data analytics team. We sat down with André to understand how he and his team are adapting their data literacy and self-service initiatives in response to the increased demand for data.

At the April 15th Southern California Town Hall, a participant asked: What changes in self-service are needed to respond to business needs? You mentioned the fast WebEx sessions to speak with an agent directly as well as the 15-minute Quick Bites sessions. Can you tell us more about these initiatives and how they work?

We perform a “silver service” while granting our users access to the data tools. Over the last 2-3 years, we have done this well, and our colleagues have become increasingly knowledgeable of the tools they have available. The most beneficial thing for this service has been naming it, CAAintell. When a business user can’t explain data or tools, they refer to it by CAAintell and know its use and value. Following the quarantine, we wanted all of our users to feel they were well taken care of. As such, we decided to create user-driven quick bites. These work by recruiting a business user, working on a question or common use case, and then presenting in a 5-10 minute quick bite at a staff meeting (all on WebEx or Teams).

Did you have these initiatives in place prior to COVID? Will you continue to use these going forward? How do you see these evolving?

No, we had more formal training and brown bag lunch sessions. The quick bite was born in the quarantine. Nobody wants to spend an hour on WebEx to be trained in data, but 5-10 minutes is refreshing in staff meetings! It’s a great, non-intrusive, yet powerful way to engage users, especially when their background is not in data. I think they will continue to catch on in the future. Maybe it’s a standard five-minute update in all staff meetings. Maybe even record them and create a quick bites library!

In what ways have these initiatives benefited CAA?

People are much less opposed to learning the system. It’s fun and business-driven, so it enhances the usage of data across our business. Also, our “silver service” demand has risen due to an increase in buzz and awareness.

Self-service demands data literacy. How has your data literacy strategy changed with the COVID crisis and a work-from-home environment?

This ties into our quick bite initiative. Data literacy comes with learning in small, bite-size steps rather than large initiatives. While at home, no one wants long online sessions -- they want individual sessions. This allows people to learn much more in concentrated, business-led quick bite sessions.

What advice would you give your fellow CDOs who are looking to boost self-service in this work-from-home environment?

Do not try to do the same training, demos, or sessions as you did while in the office. Make it light, fun, brief, and recurring so they are able to better learn the information than they would in a long session. During longer sessions, people are muted, reading emails, etc., so you don’t really get 100% attention. Short and precise is best.

Any final thoughts on best practices for CDOs to bring back to their organizations?

People have a constrained work environment. Plus, being on WebEx or Zoom all day is just exhausting. Put yourself in their shoes and make it fun, light, and short.

Special thanks to André Vargas and Creative Artists Agency.

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