Experiencing Data with Brian T. O’Neill
100 - Why Your Data, AI, Product & Business Strategies Must Work Together (and Digital Transformation is The Wrong Framing) with Vin Vashishta

100 - Why Your Data, AI, Product & Business Strategies Must Work Together (and Digital Transformation is The Wrong Framing) with Vin Vashishta

September 20, 2022

Today I’m chatting with Vin Vashishta, Founder of V Squared. Vin believes that with methodical strategic planning, companies can prepare for continuous transformation by removing the silos that exist between leadership, data, AI, and product teams. How can these barriers be overcome, and what is the impact of doing so? Vin answers those questions and more, explaining why process disruption is necessary for long-term success and gives real-world examples of companies who are adopting these strategies.


Highlights/ Skip to:

  • What the AI ‘Last Mile’ Problem is (03:09)
  • Why Vin sees so many businesses are reevaluating their offerings and realigning with their core business model (09:01)
  • Why every company today is struggling to figure out how to bridge the gap between data, product, and business value (14:25)
  • How the skillsets needed for success are evolving for data, product, and business leaders (14:40)
  • Vin’s process when he’s helping a team with a data strategy, and what the end result looks like (21:53)
  • Why digital transformation is dead, and how to reframe what business transformation means in today’s day and age (25:03)
  • How Airbnb used data to inform their overall strategy to survive during a time of massive industry disruption, and how those strategies can be used by others as a preventative measure (29:03)
  • Unpacking how a data strategy leader can work backward from a high-level business strategy to determining actionable steps and use cases for ML and analytics (32:52)
  • Who (what roles) are ultimately responsible in an ideal strategy planning session? (34:41)
  • How the C-Suite can bridge business & data strategy and the impact the world’s largest companies are seeing as a result (36:01)

Quotes from Today’s Episode

  • “And when you have that [core business & technology strategy] disconnect, technology goes in one direction, what the business needs and what customers need sort of lives outside of the silo.” – Vin Vashishta (06:06)
  • “Why are we doing data and not just traditional software development? Why are we doing data science and not analytics? There has to be a justification because each one of these is more expensive than the last, each one is, you know, less certain.” – Vin Vashishta (10:36)
  • “[The right people to train] are smart about the technology, but have also lived with the users, have some domain expertise, and the interest in making a bigger impact. Let’s put them in strategy roles.” – Vin Vashishta (18:58)
  • “You know, this is never going to end. Transformation is continuous. I don’t call it digital transformation anymore because that’s making you think that this thing is somehow a once-in-a-generation change. It’s not. It’s once every five years now.” – Vin Vashishta (25:03)
  • “When do you want to have those [business] opportunities done by? When do you want to have those objectives completed by? Well, then that tells you how fast you have to transform if you want to use each one of these different technologies.” – Vin Vashishta (25:37)
  • “You’ve got to disrupt the process. Strategy planning is not the same anymore. Look at how Amazon does it. ... They are destroying their competitors because their strategy planning process is both expert and data model-driven.” – Vin Vashishta (33:44)
  • “And one of the critical things for CDOs to do is tell stories with data to the board. When they sit in and talk to the board. They need to tell those stories about how one data point hit this one use case and the company made $4 million.” – Vin Vashishta (39:33)


099 - Don’t Boil the Ocean: How to Generate Business Value Early With Your Data Products with Jon Cooke, CTO of Dataception

099 - Don’t Boil the Ocean: How to Generate Business Value Early With Your Data Products with Jon Cooke, CTO of Dataception

September 6, 2022

Today I’m sitting down with Jon Cooke, founder and CTO of Dataception, to learn his definition of a data product and his views on generating business value with your data products. In our conversation, Jon explains his philosophy on data products and where design and UX fit in. We also review his conceptual model for data products (which he calls the data product pyramid), and discuss how together, these concepts allow teams to ship working solutions faster that actually produce value. 


Highlights/ Skip to:

  • Jon’s definition of a data product (1:19) 
  • Brian explains how UX research and design planning can and should influence data architecture —so that last mile solutions are useful and usable (9:47)
  • The four characteristics of a data product in Jon’s model (16:16)
  • The idea of products having a lifecycle with direct business/customer interaction/feedback (17:15)
  • Understanding Jon’s data product pyramid (19:30)
  • The challenges when customers/users don’t know what they want from data product teams - and who should be doing the work to surface requirements (24:44)
  • Mitigating risk and the importance of having management buy-in when adopting a product-driven approach (33:23)
  • Does the data product pyramid account for UX? (35:02)
  • What needs to change in an org model that produces data products that aren’t delivering good last mile UXs (39:20)


Quotes from Today’s Episode

  • “A data product is something that specifically solves a business problem, a piece of analytics, data use case, a pipeline, datasets, dashboard, that type that solves a business use case, and has a customer, and as a product lifecycle to it.” - Jon (2:15)


  • “I’m a fan of any definition that includes some type of deployment and use by some human being. That’s the end of the cycle, because the idea of a product is a good that has been made, theoretically, for sale.” - Brian (5:50)


  • “We don’t build a lot of stuff around cloud anymore. We just don’t build it from scratch. It’s like, you know, we don’t generate our own electricity, we don’t mill our own flour. You know, the cloud—there’s a bunch of composable services, which I basically pull together to build my application, whatever it is. We need to apply that thinking all the way through the stack, fundamentally.” - Jon (13:06)


  • “It’s not a data science problem, it’s not a business problem, it’s not a technology problem, it’s not a data engineering problem, it’s an everyone problem. And I advocate small, multidisciplinary teams, which have a business value person in it, have an SME, have a data scientist, have a data architect, have a data engineer, as a small pod that goes in and answer those questions.” - Jon (26:28)


  • “The idea is that you’re actually building the data products, which are the back-end, but you’re actually then also doing UX alongside that, you know? You’re doing it in tandem.” - Jon (37:36)


  • “Feasibility is one of the legs of the stools. There has to be market need, and your market just may be the sales team, but there needs to be some promise of value there that this person is really responsible for at the end of the day, is this data product going to create value or not?” - Brian (42:35)


  • “The thing about data products is sometimes you don’t know how feasible it is until you actually look at the data…You’ve got to do what we call data archaeology. You got to go and find the data, you got to brush it off, and you’re looking at and go, ‘Is it complete?’” - Jon (44:02)


Links Referenced:

098 - Why Emilie Schario Wants You to Run Your Data Team Like a Product Team

098 - Why Emilie Schario Wants You to Run Your Data Team Like a Product Team

August 23, 2022

Today I’m chatting with Emilie Shario, a Data Strategist in Residence at Amplify Partners. Emilie thinks data teams should operate like product teams. But what led her to that conclusion, and how has she put the idea into practice? Emilie answers those questions and more, delving into what kind of pushback and hiccups someone can expect when switching from being data-driven to product-driven and sharing advice for data scientists and analytics leaders.


Highlights / Skip to:


  • Answering the question “whose job is it” (5:18)
  • Understanding and solving problems instead of just building features people ask for (9:05)
  • Emilie explains what Amplify Partners is and talks about her work experience and how it fuels her perspectives on data teams (11:04)
  • Emilie and I talk about the definition of data product (13:00)
  • Emilie talks about her approach to building and training a data team (14:40)
  • We talk about UX designers and how they fit into Emilie’s data teams (18:40)
  • Emilie talks about the book and blog “Storytelling with Data” (21:00)
  • We discuss the push back you can expect when trying to switch a team from being data driven to being product driven (23:18)
  • What hiccups can people expect when switching to a product driven model (30:36)
  • Emilie’s advice for data scientists and and analyst leaders (35:50)
  • Emilie explains what Locally Optimistic is (37:34)


Quotes from Today’s Episode

  • “Our thesis is…we need to understand the problems we’re solving before we start building solutions, instead of just building the things people are asking for.” Emilie (2:23)


  • “I’ve seen this approach of flipping the ask on its head—understanding the problem you’re trying to solve—work and be more successful at helping drive impact instead of just letting your data team fall into this widget builder service trap.” Emilie (4:43)


  • “If your answer to any problem to me is, ‘That’s not my job,’ then I don’t want you working for me because that’s not what we’re here for. Your job is whatever the problem in front of you that needs to be solved.” Emilie (7:14)


  • “I don’t care if you have all of the data in the world and the most talented machine learning engineers and you’ve got the ability to do the coolest new algorithm fancy thing. If it doesn’t drive business impact, it doesn’t matter.” Emilie (7:52)


  • “Data is not just a thing that anyone can do. It’s not just about throwing numbers in a spreadsheet anymore. It’s about driving business impact. But part of how we drive business impact with data is making it accessible. And accessible isn’t just giving people the numbers, it’s also communicating with it effectively, and UX is a huge piece of how we do that.” Emilie (19:57)


  • “There are no null choices in design. Someone is deciding what some other human—a customer, a client, an internal stakeholder—is going to use, whether it’s a React app, or a Power BI dashboard, or a spreadsheet dump, or whatever it is, right? There will be an experience that is created, whether it is intentionally created or not.” Brian (20:28)


  • “People will think design is just putting in colors that match together, like, or spinning the color wheel and seeing what lands. You know, there’s so much more to it. And it is an expertise; it is a domain that you have to develop.” Emilie (34:58)


Links Referenced:

097 - Why Regions Bank’s CDAO, Manav Misra, Implemented a Product-Oriented Approach to Designing Data Products

097 - Why Regions Bank’s CDAO, Manav Misra, Implemented a Product-Oriented Approach to Designing Data Products

August 9, 2022

Today, I chat with Manav Misra, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Regions Bank. I begin by asking Manav what it was like to come in and implement a user-focused mentality at Regions, driven by his experience in the software industry. Manav details his approach, which included developing a new data product partner role and using effective communication to gradually gain trust and cooperation from all the players on his team. 


Manav then talks about how, over time, he solidified a formal framework for his team to be trained to use this approach and how his hiring is influenced by a product orientation. We also discuss his definition of data product at Regions, which I find to be one of the best I’ve heard to date. Today, Region Bank’s data products are delivering tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue to the bank. Given those results, I also dig into the role of design and designers to better understand who is actually doing the designing of Regions’ data products to make them so successful. Later, I ask Manav what it’s like when designers and data professionals work on the same team and how UX and data visualization design are handled at the bank. 


Towards the end, Manav shares what he has learned from his time at Regions and what he would implement in a new organization if starting over. He also expounds on the importance of empowering his team to ask customers the right questions and how a true client/stakeholder partnership has led to Manav’s most successful data products.


Highlights / Skip to:


  • Brief history of decision science and how it influenced the way data science and analytics work has been done (and unfortunately still is in many orgs) (1:47)
  • Manav’s philosophy and methods for changing the data science culture at Regions Bank to being product and user-driven (5:19)
  • Manav talks about the size of his team and the data product role within the team as well as what he had to do to convince leadership to buy in to the necessity of the data product partner role (10:54)
  • Quantifying and measuring the value of data products at Regions and some of his results (which include tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue) (13:05)
  • What’s a “data product” at Regions? Manav shares his definition (13:44)
  • Who does the designing of data products at Regions? (17:00)
  • The challenges and benefits of having a team comprised of both designers and data scientists (20:10)
  • Lessons Manav has learned from building his team and culture at Regions (23:09)
  • How Manav coaches his team and gives them the confidence to ask the right questions (27:17)
  • How true partnership has led to Manav’s most successful data products (31:46)


Quotes from Today’s Episode

  • Re: how traditional, non-product oriented enterprises do data work: “As younger people come out of data science programs…that [old] culture is changing. The folks coming into this world now are looking to make an impact and then they want to see what this can do in the real world.” Manav 


  • On the role of the Data Product Partner: “We brought in people that had both business knowledge as well as the technical knowledge, so with a combination of both they could talk to the ‘Internal customers,’ of our data products, but they could also talk to the data scientists and our developers and communicate in both directions in order to form that bridge between the two.” Manav


  • “There are products that are delivering tens of millions of dollars in terms of additional revenue, or stopping fraud, or any of those kinds of things that the products are designed to address, they’re delivering and over-delivering on the business cases that we created.” Manav 


  • “The way we define a data product is this: an end-to-end software solution to a problem that the business has. It leverages data and advanced analytics heavily in order to deliver that solution.” Manav 


  • “The deployment and operationalization is simply part of the solution. They are not something that we do after; they’re something that we design in from the start of the solution.” Brian 


  • “Design is a team sport. And even if you don’t have a titled designer doing the work, if someone is going to use the solution that you made, whether it’s a dashboard, or report, or an email, or notification, or an application, or whatever, there is a design, whether you put intention behind it or not.” Brian


  • “As you look at interactive components in your data product, which are, you know, allowing people to ask questions and then get answers, you really have to think through what that interaction will look like, what’s the best way for them to get to the right answers and be able to use that in their decision-making.” Manav 


  • “I have really instilled in my team that tools will come and go, technologies will come and go, [and so] you’ll have to have that mindset of constantly learning new things, being able to adapt and take on new ideas and incorporate them in how we do things.” Manav



096 - Why Chad Sanderson, Head of Product for Convoy’s Data Platform, is a Champion of Data UX

096 - Why Chad Sanderson, Head of Product for Convoy’s Data Platform, is a Champion of Data UX

July 26, 2022

Today I chat with Chad Sanderson, Head of Product for Convoy’s data platform. I begin by having Chad explain why he calls himself a “data UX champion” and what inspired his interest in UX. Coming from a non-UX background, Chad explains how he came to develop a strategy for addressing the UX pain points at Convoy—a digital freight network. They “use technology to make freight more efficient, reducing costs for some of the nation’s largest brands, increasing earnings for carriers, and eliminating carbon emissions from our planet.” We also get into the metrics of success that Convoy uses to measure UX and why Chad is so heavily focused on user workflow when making the platform user-centered.


Later, Chad shares his definition of a data product, and how his experience with building software products has overlapped with data products. He also shares what he thinks is different about creating data products vs. traditional software products. Chad then explains Convoy’s approach to prototyping and the value of partnering with users in the design process. We wrap up by discussing how UX work gets accomplished on Chad’s team, given it doesn’t include any titled UX professionals. 



  • Chad explains how he became a data UX champion and what prompted him to care about UX (1:23)
  • Chad talks about his strategy for beginning to address the UX issues at Convoy (4:42)
  • How Convoy measures UX improvement (9:19)
  • Chad talks about troubleshooting user workflows and it’s relevance to design (15:28)
  • Chad explains what Convoy is and the makeup of his data platform team (21:00)
  • What is a data product? Chad gives his definition and the similarities and differences between building software versus data products (23:21)
  • Chad talks about using low fidelity work and prototypes to optimize solutions and resources in the long run (27:49)
  • We talk about the value of partnering with users in the design process (30:37)
  • Chad talks about the distribution of UX labor on his team (32:15)


Quotes from Today’s Episode


Re: user research: "The best content that you get from people is when they are really thinking about what to say next; you sort of get into a free-flowing exchange of ideas. So it’s important to find the topic where someone can just talk at length without really filtering themselves. And I find a good place to start with that is to just talk about their problems. What are the painful things that you’ve experienced in data in the last month or in the last week?" - Chad 


Re: UX research: "I often recommend asking users to show you something they were working on recently, particularly when they were having a  problem accomplishing their goal. It’s a really good way to surface UX issues because the frustration is probably fresh." - Brian 


Re: user feedback, “One of the really great pieces of advice that I got is, if you’re getting a lot of negative feedback, this is actually a sign that people care. And if people care about what you’ve built, then it’s better than overbuilding from the beginning.” - Chad


“What we found [in our research around workflow], though, sometimes counterintuitively, is that the steps that are the easiest and simplest for a customer to do that I think most people would look at and say, ‘Okay, it’s pretty low ROI to invest in some automated solution or a product in this space,’ are sometimes the most important things that you can [address in your data product] because of the impacts that it has downstream.” - Chad 


Re: user feedback, “The amazing thing about building data products, and I guess any internal products is that 100% of your customers sit ten feet away from you. [...] When you can talk to 100% of [your users], you are truly going to understand [...] every single persona. And that is tremendously effective for creating compelling narratives about why we need to build a particular thing.” - Chad 


“If we can get people to really believe that this data product is going to solve the problem, then usually, we like to turn those people into advocates and evangelists within the company, and part of their job is to go out and convince other people about why this thing can solve the problem.” - Chad 



095 - Increasing Adoption of Data Products Through Design Training: My Interview from TDWI Munich

095 - Increasing Adoption of Data Products Through Design Training: My Interview from TDWI Munich

July 12, 2022

Today I am bringing you a recording of a live interview I did at the TDWI Munich conference for data leaders, and this episode is a bit unique as I’m in the “guest” seat being interviewed by the VP of TDWI Europe, Christoph Kreutz. 

Christoph wanted me to explain the new workshop I was giving later that day, which focuses on helping leaders increase user adoption of data products through design. In our chat, I explained the three main areas I pulled out of my full 4-week seminar to create this new ½-day workshop as well as the hands-on practice that participants would be engaging in. The three focal points for the workshop were: measuring usability via usability studies, identifying the unarticulated needs of stakeholders and users, and sketching in low fidelity to avoid over committing to solutions that users won’t value. 

Christoph also asks about the format of the workshop, and I explain how I believe data leaders will best learn design by doing it. As such, the new workshop was designed to use small group activities, role-playing scenarios, peer review…and minimal lecture! After discussing the differences between the abbreviated workshop and my full 4-week seminar, we talk about my consulting and training business “Designing for Analytics,” and conclude with a fun conversation about music and my other career as a professional musician. 

In a hurry? Skip to: 

  • I summarize the new workshop version of “Designing Human-Centered Data Products” I was premiering at TDWI (4:18)
  • We talk about the format of my workshop (7:32)
  • Christoph and I discuss future opportunities for people to participate in this workshop (9:37)
  • I explain the format of the main 8-week seminar versus the new half-day workshop  (10:14)
  • We talk about one on one coaching (12:22)
  • I discuss my background, including my formal music training and my other career as a professional musician (14:03)

Quotes from Today’s Episode

  • “We spend a lot of time building outputs and infrastructure and pipelines and data engineering and generating stuff, but not always generating outcomes. Users only care about how does this make my life better, my job better, my job easier? How do I look better? How do I get a promotion? How do I make the company more money? Whatever those goals are. And there’s a gap there sometimes, between the things that we ship and delivering these outcomes.” (4:36)
  • “In order to run a usability study on a data product, you have to come up with some type of learning goals and some kind of scenarios that you’re going to give to a user and ask them to go show me how you would do x using the data thing that we built for you.” (5:54)
  • “The reality is most data users and stakeholders aren’t designers and they’re not thinking about the user’s workflow and how a solution fits into their job. They don’t have that context. So, how do we get the really important requirements out of a user or stakeholder’s head? I teach techniques from qualitative UX interviewing, sales, and even hostage negotiation to get unarticulated needs out of people’s head.” (6:41)
  • “How do we work in low fidelity to get data leaders on the same page with a stakeholder or a user? How do we design with users instead of for them? Because most of the time, when we communicate visually, it starts to click (or you’ll know it’s not clicking!)” (7:05)
  • “There’s no right or wrong [in the workshop]. [The workshop] is really about the practice of using these design methods and not the final output that comes out of the end of it.” (8:14)
  • “You learn design by doing design so I really like to get data people going by trying it instead of talking about trying it. More design doing and less design thinking!” (8:40)
  • “The tricky thing [for most of my training clients], [and perhaps this is true with any type of adult education] is, ‘Yeah, I get the concept of what Brian’s talking about, but, how do I apply these design techniques to my situation? I work in this really weird domain, or on this particularly hard data space.’ Working on an exercise or real project, together, in small groups, is how I like start to make the conceptual idea of design into a tangible tool for data leaders..” (12:26)


094 - The Multi-Million Dollar Impact of Data Product Management and UX with Vijay Yadav of Merck

094 - The Multi-Million Dollar Impact of Data Product Management and UX with Vijay Yadav of Merck

June 28, 2022

Today I sit down with Vijay Yadav, head of the data science team at Merck Manufacturing Division. Vijay begins by relating his own path to adopting a data product and UX-driven approach to applied data science, andour chat quickly turns to the ever-present challenge of user adoption. Vijay discusses his process of designing data products with customers, as well as the impact that building user trust has on delivering business value. We go on to talk about what metrics can be used to quantify adoption and downstream value, and then Vijay discusses the financial impact he has seen at Merck using this user-oriented perspective. While we didn’t see eye to eye on everything, Vijay was able to show how focusing on the last mile UX has had a multi-million dollar impact on Merck. The conversation concludes with Vijay’s words of advice for other data science directors looking to get started with a design and user-centered approach to building data products that achieve adoption and have measurable impact.


In our chat, we covered Vijay’s design process, metrics, business value, and more: 


  • Vijay shares how he came to approach data science with a data product management approach and how UX fits in (1:52)
  • We discuss overcoming the challenge of user adoption by understanding user thinking and behavior (6:00)
  • We talk about the potential problems and solutions when users self-diagnose their technology needs (10:23)
  • Vijay delves into what his process of designing with a customer looks like (17:36)
  • We discuss the impact “solving on the human level” has on delivering real world benefits and building user trust (21:57)
  • Vijay talks about measuring user adoption and quantifying downstream value—and Brian discusses his concerns about tool usage metrics as means of doing this (25:35)
  • Brian and Vijay discuss the multi-million dollar financial and business impact Vijay has seen at Merck using a more UX  driven approach to data product development (31:45)
  • Vijay shares insight on what steps a head of data science  might wish to take to get started implementing a data product and UX approach to creating ML and analytics applications that actually get used  (36:46)

Quotes from Today’s Episode

  • “They will adopt your solution if you are giving them everything they need so they don’t have to go look for a workaround.” - Vijay (4:22)


  • “It’s really important that you not only capture the requirements, you capture the thinking of the user, how the user will behave if they see a certain way, how they will navigate, things of that nature.” - Vijay (7:48)


  • “When you’re developing a data product, you want to be making sure that you’re taking the holistic view of the problem that can be solved, and the different group of people that we need to address. And, you engage them, right?” - Vijay (8:52)


  • “When you’re designing in low fidelity, it allows you to design with users because you don’t spend all this time building the wrong thing upfront, at which point it’s really expensive in time and money to go and change it.” - Brian (17:11)


  • "People are the ones who make things happen, right? You have all the technology, everything else looks good, you have the data, but the people are the ones who are going to make things happen.” - Vijay (38:47)


  • “You want to make sure that you [have] a strong team and motivated team to deliver. And the human spirit is something, you cannot believe how stretchable it is. If the people are motivated, [and even if] you have less resources and less technology, they will still achieve [your goals].” - Vijay (42:41)


  • “You’re trying to minimize any type of imposition on [the user], and make it obvious why your data product  is better—without disruption. That’s really the key to the adoption piece: showing how it is going to be better for them in a way they can feel and perceive. Because if they don’t feel it, then it’s just another hoop to jump through, right?” - Brian (43:56)

Resources and Links:

 LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vijyadav/

093 - Why Agile Alone Won’t Increase Adoption of Your Enterprise Data Products

093 - Why Agile Alone Won’t Increase Adoption of Your Enterprise Data Products

June 14, 2022

Episode Description

In one of my past memos to my list subscribers, I addressed some questions about agile and data products. Today, I expound on each of these and share some observations from my consulting work. In some enterprise orgs, mostly outside of the software industry, agile is still new and perceived as a panacea. In reality, it can just become a factory for shipping features and outputs faster–with positive outcomes and business value being mostly absent. To increase the adoption of enterprise data products that have humans in the loop, it’s great to have agility in mind, but poor technology shipped faster isn’t going to serve your customers any better than what you’re doing now. 


Here are the 10 reflections I’ll dive into on this episode: 

  1. You can't project manage your way out of a [data] product problem. 

  2. The more you try to deploy agile at scale, take the trainings, and hire special "agilists", the more you're going to tend to measure success by how well you followed the Agile process.

  3. Agile is great for software engineering, but nobody really wants "software engineering" given to them. They do care about the perceived reality of your data product.

  4. Run from anyone that tells you that you shouldn't ever do any design, user research, or UX work "up front" because "that is waterfall." 

  5. Everybody else is also doing modified scrum (or modified _______).

  6. Marty Cagan talks about this a lot, but in short: while the PM (product managers) may own the backlog and priorities, what’s more important is that these PMs “own the problem” space as opposed to owning features or being solution-centered. 

  7. Before Agile can thrive, you will need strong senior leadership buy-in if you're going to do outcome-driven data product work.

  8. There's a huge promise in the word "agile." You've been warned. 

  9. If you don't have a plan for how you'll do discovery work, defining clear problem sets and success metrics, and understanding customers feelings, pains, needs, and wants, and the like, Agile won't deliver much improvement for data products (probably).

  10. Getting comfortable with shipping half-right, half-quality, half-done is hard. 


Quotes from Today’s Episode 

  • “You can get lost in following the process and thinking that as long as we do that, we’re going to end up with a great data product at the end.” - Brian (3:16)
  • “The other way to define clear success criteria for data products and hold yourself accountable to those on the user and business side is to really understand what does a positive outcome look like? How would we measure it?” - Brian (5:26)
  • “The most important thing is to know that the user experience is the perceived reality of the technology that you built. Their experience is the only reality that matters.” - Brian (9:22)
  • “Do the right amount of planning work upfront, have a strategy in place, make sure the team understands it collectively, and then you can do the engineering using agile.” - Brian (18:15)
  • “If you don’t have a plan for how you’ll do discovery work, defining clear problem sets and success metrics, and understanding customers’ feelings, pains, needs, wants, and all of that, then agile will not deliver increased adoption of your data products. - Brian (36:07)


092 - How to measure data product value from a UX and business lens (and how not to do it)

092 - How to measure data product value from a UX and business lens (and how not to do it)

May 31, 2022

Today I’m talking about how to measure data product value from a user experience and business lens, and where leaders sometimes get it wrong. Today’s first question was asked at my recent talk at the Data Summit conference where an attendee asked how UX design fits into agile data product development. Additionally, I recently had a subscriber to my Insights mailing list ask about how to measure adoption, utilization, and satisfaction of data products. So, we’ll jump into that juicy topic as well.

Answering these inquiries also got me on a related tangent about the UX challenges associated with abstracting your platform to support multiple, but often theoretical, user needs—and the importance of collaboration to ensure your whole team is operating from the same set of assumptions or definitions about success. I conclude the episode with the concept of “game framing” as a way to conceptualize these ideas at a high level. 


Key topics and cues in this episode include: 

  • An overview of the questions I received (:45)
  • Measuring change once you’ve established a benchmark (7:45) 
  • The challenges of working in abstractions (abstracting your platform to facilitate theoretical future user needs) (10:48)
  • The value of having shared definitions and understanding the needs of different stakeholders/users/customers (14:36)
  • The importance of starting from the “last mile” (19:59)
  • The difference between success metrics and progress metrics (24:31)
  • How measuring feelings can be critical to measuring success (29:27)
  • “Game framing” as a way to understand tracking progress and success (31:22)

Quotes from Today’s Episode

  • “Once you’ve got your benchmark in place for a data product, it’s going to be much easier to measure what the change is because you’ll know where you’re starting from.” - Brian (7:45)

  • “When you’re deploying technology that’s supposed to improve people’s lives so that you can get some promise of business value downstream, this is not a generic exercise. You have to go out and do the work to understand the status quo and what the pain is right now from the user's perspective.” - Brian (8:46)

  • “That user perspective—perception even—is all that matters if you want to get to business value. The user experience is the perceived quality, usability, and utility of the data product.” - Brian (13:07)

  • “A data product leader’s job should be to own the problem and not just the delivery of data product features, applications or technology outputs. ” - Brian (26:13)

  • “What are we keeping score of? Different stakeholders are playing different games so it’s really important for the data product team not to impose their scoring system (definition of success) onto the customers, or the users, or the stakeholders.” - Brian (32:05)

  • “We always want to abstract once we have a really good understanding of what people do, as it’s easier to create more user-centered abstractions that will actually answer real data questions later on. ” - Brian (33:34)


091 - How Brazil’s Biggest Fiber Company, Oi, Leverages Design To Create Useful Data Products with Sr. Exec. Design Manager, João Critis

091 - How Brazil’s Biggest Fiber Company, Oi, Leverages Design To Create Useful Data Products with Sr. Exec. Design Manager, João Critis

May 17, 2022

Today I talked with João Critis from Oi. Oi is a Brazilian telecommunications company that is a pioneer in convergent broadband services, pay TV, and local and long-distance voice transmission. They operate the largest fiber optics network in Brazil which reaches remote areas to promote digital inclusion of the population. João manages a design team at Oi that is responsible for the front end of data products including dashboards, reports, and all things data visualization. 

We begin by discussing João’s role leading a team of data designers. João then explains what data products actually are, and who makes up his team’s users and customers. João goes on to discuss user adoption challenges at Oi and the methods they use to uncover what users need in the last mile. He then explains the specific challenges his team has faced, particularly with middle management, and how his team builds credibility with senior leadership. In conclusion, João reflects on the value of empathy in the design process. 


In this episode, João shares:  

  • A data product  (4:48)
  • The research process used by his data teams to build journey maps for clients (7:31)
  • User adoption challenges for Oi (15:27)
  • His answer to the question “how do you decide which mouths to feed?” (16:56)
  • The unique challenges of middle management in delivering useful data products (20:33)
  • The importance of empathy in innovation (25:23)
  • What data scientists need to learn about design and vice versa (27:55)


Quotes from Today’s Episode

  • “We put the final user in the center of our process. We [conduct] workshops involving co-creation and prototyping, and we test how people work with data.” - João (8:22)

  • "My first responsibility here is value generation. So, if you have to take two or three steps back, another brainstorm, rethink, and rebuild something that works…. [well], this is very common for us.” - João (19:28)

  • “If you don’t make an impact on the individuals, you’re not going to make an impact on the business. Because as you said, if they don’t use any of the outputs we make, then they really aren’t solutions and no value is created. - Brian (25:07)

  • “It’s really important to do what we call primary research where you’re directly interfacing as much as possible with the horse’s mouth, no third parties, no second parties. You’ve really got to develop that empathy.” - Brian (25:23)

  • “When we are designing some system or screen or other digital artifact, [we have to understand] this is not only digital, but a product. We have to understand people, how people interact with systems, with computers, and how people interact with visual presentations.” - João (28:16)


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