We chat with our recently recruited Data Strategy Director, Alistair McCall, who brings a wealth of knowledge that spans over decade in data and analytics. Originally from Scotland, Alistair has found his home down under and has worked with heavy hitters like Woolworth’s and Optus.

He touches on how he brings data-driven thinking into a creative agency and shares insight on predictive analytics along with the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Hey Al – so you’re our Data Strategy Director, what does that mean?

I look after the data capability here at MercerBell. Together with a highly skilled team of analysts, we do great data analytics work for our existing clients. My role consists of leading and developing the team, all while liaising with existing data clients to help guide them through their challenges and opportunities. I also work with new clients to find ways where we can use our expertise to help them realise their opportunities, leverage their data and stay one step ahead.

Your accent tells me you’re not originally from here. What brought you to MercerBell?

Well, I’m originally from Scotland but I’ve lived in Sydney for the last 18 years. I may never lose my Scottish accent, but I consider myself a proper Aussie!

In terms of career, over the last ten years I’ve worked client side in data and analytics for some large organisations; most recently Woolworth’s, and prior to that, in the telco industry for Optus and then Vodafone.

At Woolworth’s Liquor Group, I developed an analytics capability for several different direct to consumer liquor retailers under the Woolworth’s umbrella. We worked with data in all different shapes and sizes to develop reporting, customer insights and advanced analytics solutions – basically any way that we could use the huge amounts of data available to us to improve our understanding of our customers, and ultimately provide our customers with a high quality experience each time that they interacted with us.

So the opportunity to work for a leading agency in CRM and customer experience like MercerBell, felt like a great opportunity to continue to grow my career in this space, while also giving me a new perspective and fresh challenge on the agency side.

We’ve heard that predictive analytics can help improve customer experience. Can you shed some light on what it is and your experience using it?

Put simply, predictive analytics is a form of advanced analytics that uses data to anticipate outcomes and behaviours that may happen in the future. These predictions are based on both current trends and historical facts; data is analysed with machine learning and data mining to make the most accurate predictions possible.

It’s been around for a long time, although it has become prevalent of late as computers have become more powerful, software has become more user friendly, and data has become so much more abundant.

Consequently, organisations look to their data to provide them with a means of competitive advantage. Organisations use predictive analytics in a number of different ways, including marketing optimisation and CRM, fraud detection, credit scoring and health care.

Coming from a retail background, my experience of predictive modelling has been focused on developing an understanding of the future behaviour of shoppers. For instance:

  • Churn models use historical transactions to detect changes in shopper behaviour which is a strong indicator of future disengagement. Armed with this advanced knowledge, marketing efforts can be directed at these high-risk customers to reduce the chances of attrition.
  • Building models that analyse the types of products that consumers buy helps to identify those shoppers most likely to be interested in other related products (cross-sell)
  • Predicting the way in which certain groups of customers are most likely to interact with a brand helps to optimise the timing and marketing channel used by retailers. For example, would you believe that there are a significant group of Australians who are happy to buy wine over the phone at 10am on a Monday morning?
    • What’s it like to do data at Mercerbell?

      It’s fantastic to have the opportunity to work with such a variety of clients, across so many different industries. However, despite these differences, many of the data related challenges organisations face are similar, so my challenge is to get my foot in all of these different doors and demonstrate how MercerBell can help.

      The roadmap ahead

      While predictive analytics holds the potential to transform the way companies do business, Alistair believes that these three things are going to define future work:

      • Organisations that are successful in transforming their approach to marketing & customer experience with data think big but start small – the first step is to select the right use case which will give quick demonstrable returns if successful.
      • True 1-1 marketing with the right content being delivered in the right context to an individual regardless of touchpoint is now achievable for any organisation committed to making the right investment in data and technology.
      • Machine learning and AI will continue to enter the mainstream as more tools and practical applications become available.
        • MercerBell is proud to welcome Alistair McCall to the team. His appointment is a clear demonstration of our readiness to innovate as we improve the way we deliver more delightful customer experiences.