Getting Buy-In From The Top: The Smart Start of Tata Steel


A global Forbes-Hitachi study of 2016 – based on a survey of 573 senior executives worldwide – indicated that 50% of the companies have digital transformation on top of their strategic priority list. In addition, slightly more than half of the companies (51%) indicated that investing in data and analytics capabilities is their top investment priority over the next two years. Executives are aware of the importance of transforming into a data-driven company to secure sustainable growth. But in 2016 still less than half of the companies considered themselves advanced in the use of data and analytics. It is not so much the lack of awareness, but merely the question “where to start” and the lack of understanding of the core concepts of Data Science in the C-suite, that withholds companies from exploiting the power of data.

Transforming a company into a data-driven company demands a shift in culture. A culture in which data is perceived as a core asset and is integrated in the heart of the company. In such a way that data drives decision-making and employees use data and experimentation to gain new insights. But, we all know that culture doesn’t change on its own. In empowering cultural change, we should not underestimate the importance of executive buy-in. Outcomes of an Economist Intelligence Unit survey of 2012 even indicated that buy-in from the top, with at least one executive committed to implementing a data-driven culture, is one of the common features of companies that have successfully transformed into a data-driven company.

According to the report “Fostering a Data-Driven Culture” by the Economist Intelligence Unit

Having said that, the C-Suite is challenged by countless unanswered questions: where should we focus our attention and investments on to gain sustainable value from data use? How can we apply analytics to our processes in such a way that it improves our environmental footprint? What is Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning and how can it make our company more efficient? Or even, how to think in statistical models that increase the predictability of our company? And most of all, how can I set direction for a new data-driven business strategy that will improve satisfaction for all stakeholders? Start your transformation smart by getting answers to those questions upfront.

Tata Steel is one of those companies that is very much aware of the opportunities that arise from the changing world, is ready to change the way they work, supports this change at C-level and is making a smart start. A smart start by gaining essential answers to their questions during the Executive Bootcamp at the Analytics Academy.

Loes Jansen of Tata Steel: “Having senior management on board is very helpful in strategic direction setting.”

The Executive Bootcamp for Tata Steel was focused on bringing the Executive and Senior Management Team up-to-speed on concepts like Machine Learning and Optimization to help them identify areas where these concepts can add sustainable value. Ultimately, providing them with enough understanding of the basics to drive the journey towards a data-driven organization that will empower Tata Steel to improve its environmental footprint through increased process efficiency and to keep connected with their employees, customers and suppliers while maintaining a low cost base. Let’s give you a glimpse of what is being covered in such an Executive Bootcamp!

It all starts at the basis

The day started with a two hour introductory lecture on the terms and definitions surrounding Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Digitization, Machine Learning and Data Science. Putting these concepts into context, the lecture continued with a discussion on the organizational DELTA Model (Data, Enterprise, Leadership, Targets and Analysts) and the Analytics Maturity Model by Thomas Davenport. The DELTA model captures the factors that determine the analytical success of a company, where the analytical success of a company subsequently can be expressed in Analytical Maturity Stages. It helps companies to determine in what maturity stage they currently are, where they want to be and what steps are required to get there.

© International Institute for Analytics

Understanding the techniques

After the introduction, Tata Steel dove deeper into the contents of Machine Learning, Analytics and Optimization Technology and Theory. The Academy demonstrated the executives how algorithms work and how, for example, they can be of benefit to the efficiency of internal processes or the effectiveness of customer interaction. Such an understanding helps executives to identify areas in which these techniques add value or may even lead to disruptive innovation.

Let’s talk about ethics

To secure and sustain the power of data, Law and Ethics of Big Data should not be overlooked. To stay in control, it is valuable to know who owns and is responsible for the data and algorithms and be aware of the (privacy) rules and legislation (i.e. GDPR) of personal data processing. During this part of the Bootcamp executives are brought up to speed (thoroughly) by a legal professional on what they should know to responsibly use big data and to avoid being caught in a scandal.

Getting practical

To translate the theory into actionable insights it is worthwhile to look at practical examples. For Tata Steel the last lecture of the day concentrated on a case around implementing Data Science at a large manufacturing company. This practical case was followed by a discussion on the various implementation and change models which ORTEC Data Science sees generating the most value in successful data-driven organizations.

What about tomorrow?

The first step is made. It’s time to start focusing on the next step: integrating data into your day-to-day operations. For Tata Steel the day ended with a discussion on “What will you be doing tomorrow?” and “What holds you back?”. The discussion leader posed interesting and action-triggering questions to the participants, like “So, starting tomorrow, are we going back to our regular meetings and email, or are we going to get Tata Steel digital?”. The answers were clear.

“Understanding what is happening in the digital world opens a window of opportunities.”

In the jungle of Big Data Analytics it is hard to discover where to start. An Executive Bootcamp can help to establish sufficient understanding of data science concepts and techniques to identify areas in which data can add value to make your business more efficient, effective and predictable. Furthermore, it gives an insight into the preconditions (such as Ethics) that guarantee the sustainability of your data-use. You will get the answers you need to start your journey towards transforming into a data-driven company.

Tata Steel ended the Bootcamp very energetic and inspired. “Understanding what is happening in the digital world opens a window of opportunities. Having senior managers and directors across all functions on board was really helpful in starting fruitful discussions and strategic direction setting”, says Loes Jansen, Manager External Funding & Collaboration at Tata Steel. We’re confident Tata Steel will be capable of taking the next step in their digital transformation resulting in sustainable outperformance.

Are you a member of an executive team and triggered to get your data journey started? Design your (tailored) 1-day inspirational Executive Bootcamp together with Robert Monné ( or 06 15 29 13 11) or visit our website.

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Robert Monne
I'm a data-driven professional with an entrepreneurial mindset. Firm believer in the power of data science and analytics: any startup, business or government can be greatly enhanced by leveraging data and machine learning. Started my journey at a business school and discovered (almost a decade) ago the potential of data science in my first job. I decided to autonomously acquire the hands-on and technical skills to become a "Business Data Scientist" or a so called "Analytics Translator". I’m quick in spotting data opportunities, translating them into either education programs or analytics projects and, through that, being able to help companies to transform into a data driven enterprise.Currently I'm growing a startup called The Analytics Academy, which is a cooperation of ORTEC Consulting and the University of Amsterdam. We started this initiative to cover the shortage of Data Science skills in The Netherlands. I believe every job level or department within a company can be enhanced by data science. We provide (re)training to professionals and companies to help them to grow data opportunities in a(n) independent, scalable and sustainable way.

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