In this episode, Jason Foster talks to Antje Bustamante, Director of Data and Analytics at Zoopla.
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Property is a high-stakes market where people make huge decisions on a daily basis, with data playing an important role in decisions that have to be made at all levels from the clients themselves right through to economists and high-level executives.
[00:30] Antje’s background from information science through to her current role using data for transformational change within organisations
[02:16] Antje’s role at Zoopla and the role data plays in the real estate industry
[06:10] The ‘journey’ of data within an organisation
[10:12] How data can be combined with business goals
[14:30] Why you need to keep communicating your plan to others
[18:30] Short-term vs long-term outlook when coming up with a data strategy
[22:20] How to increase data literacy throughout an organisation
[27:35] Key places and use cases data can be applied to in the property industry
[32:00] How the attitude towards data has changed at Zoopla over the past couple of years
Data professionals know that good data can enable great decisions. Just because there is a data team it doesn’t mean that data should be solely used by them. Other people from outside the department who use data can also become familiar with data and how to use it to their advantage.
Not everyone at a company needs to become a ‘data expert’ though, but by giving them a basic understanding and equipping them with the right knowledge can greatly alleviate pressure on a data team and democratise decision making and learning. Make learning data fun and convenient through immersive learning and reward those who take initiative in expanding their data knowledge. It can be as simple as a lunch ‘n learn, or more extensive such as providing short courses or day trips to integrate and solidify their knowledge.
Many data teams struggle to communicate their data strategy to stakeholders, resulting in confusion and resistance. To get sufficient buy-in you it is good to take it upon yourself as the data expert to keep your communication clear and frequent. Even when you think you may have explained it clearly, sometimes it is wise to stop yourself, go back and make sure that everyone understands what is happening. This is also where a basic level of data literacy may be required to create less friction and a deeper level of understanding about how data can enhance their day to day activities.
In property, a lot can change very quickly. Any data team in the property industry needs to be able to quickly adapt to the needs of the market and provide the necessary data to navigate tricky economic situations. That being said, there also needs to be long-term goals in place which align with the company’s values.
When you first begin to implement a data strategy, the initial period may be iterative as you are just learning what people need. For example the initial focus may be on infrastructure. Once that is in place you can start to work on things such as measuring data maturity and general maintenance.
The property industry shifts rapidly and data is needed to keep companies relevant and competitive. Once the basic foundations have been put in place, the data team can work on expanding capabilities, adding new data products and focus more on innovation. Also by equipping everyone with some data literacy the team can carry on without having to deal with as many issues from other departments. This frees up time which can be allocated to providing more value to the company.
Data is not just a set of numbers, but a way of increasing value for an organisation and the people within it. By empowering people with even basic data knowledge, it can greatly help with buy-in and allow a data team to progress with other projects.