In July 2015, the very first NET-A-PORTER Group Analyst Community Unconference took place at our offices in Westfield. We set up to provide the opportunity to share knowledge and to meet other people within the company that, like us, work with data. The event’s objective was to mark the starting point of the first community of analysts within the NET-A-PORTER Group.
For those that are not familiar with the term ‘unconference’, this is similar to the traditional conference but with a ‘un’ at the beginning of the word because many of the key things about the event (like the agenda) are undecided until the moment that it starts. The attendees are the ones that lead the unconference by running the sessions as speakers and are also the ones that define the agenda. That is what makes unconferences a great place for collaboration and knowledge sharing.
The date that was selected to make it all happen was July 8th, but unfortunately it had to be postponed to the week after due to the Tube strike. As it turned out the postponement was fortuitous, as that same day we were evacuated from our offices because of an unexpected, unexploded World War 2 bomb found near our offices (it’s not something that happens to me often…) which would have forced cancellation too!
Finally the day of the unconference arrived and we all met at 4 PM in the Auditorium. After overcoming some technical issues to allow us to connect with colleagues in Manhattan and the US, we began the event. Matt Keylock, Director of Data Insights for the NET-A-PORTER Group, was in charge of running the opening session, in which he clarified what an unconference was and what the objective of this one was for NET-A-PORTER. If I had to choose one phrase from his speech, and something that summarises why I truly believe in the benefits of building a community of analysts, it’d be:
“By being better connected, we will make our brands better for customers, grow value for our business and make our own jobs more exciting and fun”
After this, Matt also talked about where we are heading as a group of analysts and people that work with data, and presented some areas where we are already progressing.
“We are blessed with some great data that we need to bring together but that we also have to refine and distill”.
Once the opening session finished, it was the time to decide the agenda! This was both an exciting time and also a slightly apprehensive one, as we were unsure of how many of the attendees were eager to sign-up to run a session. If everyone had just turned up expecting to hear others, it would have been a very short event…and very disappointing too. Our curiosity was piqued at this time to also find out what the topics on the mind of the business would be.
We had three meeting rooms booked, so there could be three sessions running simultaneously, each of them 25 minutes long. We created cards as the ones in the picture below — everyone that wanted to run a session had to add the topic, a description and their name, and add it to any of the free spots in the schedule that we drew on one of the white boards.
The election of the topic was free, so the attendees that were running sessions could present any analysis done by them in the past, or just moderate a debate about any subject that they found relevant.
We ran out of free slots in the schedule in about 15 minutes, and before starting the first sessions, the agenda was already defined for the whole evening. This was a fantastic outcome that we, as organisers, were delighted with. Many had turned up eager to share and benefit from the input of their colleagues, a great testament to the spirit of collaboration across the team!
The topics during the unconference were:
- Static vs Dynamic data by Andrew Aminian (Data Insights)
- New customer retention: analysis, insights and the marketing plan by Vishal Katelia (Customer Relationship Management): Understanding new customer retention, the insights found and how these have informed CRM plans
- Predict customer response by Clemence Burnichon (Customer Relationship Management): Model to predict customer response
- Discussion: Do we overcomplicate the data we have? By Emma White (Merchandising)
- The NET-A-PORTER insights panel by Kieran Tucker (Customer Relationship Management): Introduction to the panel and discussion around how it might benefit you
- MRP Journal responsive redesign by Paco Fernández (Web Analytics): A brief assessment of how the new design has performed
- Deciphering the trading stats by Benjamin Hardy (Finance): Understand how to quickly analyse the trade stats to target further analysis
- Discussion: High-value customers and segmentation by Giles Bodger (Web Analytics). How we define high value customers, and how others do
- Porter subscriber behaviour vs NET-A-PORTER shopper by Gary Cassidy (Customer Relationship Management): Does Porter influence and improve shopping behaviour?
Many thanks to all the people that ran sessions by presenting analysis and leading discussions. Thanks for making possible an evening full of great topics to discuss and to learn from!
We are very happy by how our analysts’ community embraced our unconference event. There were around 70 attendees altogether and great commitment to stay into the evening to the end of the sessions. We have received great feedback, both on the days after and in the survey we sent to find out your opinions. Without any doubt, we will do it again, and we will keep improving thanks to everyone’s comments. However, this was just the first of the many activities we will be doing together.
We are opened to new ideas to keep developing the community of analysts in the business. Anyone interested in sharing an idea about an activity that could be organised within the community can do it by leaving a comment on this post or by contacting the people in the organisation committee. These people are Benjamin Hardy, Gary Cassidy, Andrew Aminian, Dicle Timurtas, Clemence Burnichon, Emilie Dumoulin and myself (Bárbara Mackey) in Westfield, Brittany Bennett in Manhattan and John Pajor in DC2.
Thanks to everyone that attended to our very first Analyst Community Unconference! Let’s keep the sharing and learning going! :-)