It’s an exciting time at NFU Mutual, with a number of strategic change programmes in progress. Data is at the heart of many of these programmes and a new Data Centre of Excellence is being introduced to ensure the business builds, delivers and uses data in the best way to drive change and improve experiences for its customers and employees. We talked to Al Mathie, the company’s Chief Data Officer about what the Centre of Excellence means for the business.

Many organisations seem to be focusing on data. Why are you introducing a Data Centre of Excellence?
You’re right – many banks and insurance companies are realising the value of data to their businesses. At NFU Mutual, we’ve taken a very strategic view of data. We looked at how data can be incorporated into our business strategy, so it drives the growth we need and helps us to improve customer experiences. Customer service is vitally important to our business, so we’ve developed a data strategy that has Board support and we’re investing in building our data capability and data capacity.

The Data Centre of Excellence will be at the heart of this. It will drive our data strategy, make the right data accessible to the right people across the business, and give our people the skills and tools they need to get the most value from that data. So, it really will help us to improve experiences for our people, our customers and ultimately, the business.

It sounds like a huge task. How are you approaching it?
It is a massive task, and at the same time a really exciting one. We’re basically doubling the size of the current data team by expanding its purpose and scope, and extending what it does and how it does it. As I mentioned, we’re approaching it in a very strategic way. The Data Centre of Excellence will have four main aims; to set the strategy and direction for data across the business, to ensure the company gets the most value from its data, to embed effective data management capabilities and to improve our data quality and ensure our data is fit for purpose.

So, we’ll be setting the plans for how we invest in and build our data capabilities throughout the business and at the same time making sure everybody has the skills and capabilities they need to use data effectively; we'll be focused on embedding the right level of data literacy across the business. We want our people spending less time sourcing and preparing data, so they have more time to focus on using data to develop and build the insights that will drive the business forward and benefit our customers.

So, people who join you will be able to hit the ground running?
Definitely – it’s a new Centre of Excellence, as part of a long-term data strategy that has full support at Board level. It’s a major, high-profile initiative in NFU Mutual and they’ll be coming in when we're at the start of the journey, so they’ll be able to help us shape how data benefits the business. And because we’ve got a lot of major change programmes in the pipeline that rely on data, they will also be involved in influencing the future of the business itself.

We’re not just looking for experienced data specialists, either. It’s a great opportunity for people at the beginning of their careers, too. It's really important to me that we get the right balance between experienced hires as well as investing in and building our own capabilities. From a technology perspective we've made a strategic decision to leverage the Microsoft Azure stack for our data platform. At NFU Mutual, we’re renowned for the quality of our training. The whole team will have access to an online training portal that covers everything from updating your existing skills or learning new ones, right up to gaining appropriate certifications. Of course, we’ll give our people all the support they need to improve their abilities.

It sounds like a great opportunity.
I believe it is, and I’m really excited about how we can help the business to make the most of data’s potential. Data has the power to bring huge benefits to our customers, our people and the business as a whole. So, it really ties into our three strategic values of being a great place to do business with, being a great place to work and delivering sustainable and profitable growth. And the Data Centre of Excellence is going to be at the centre of it all.

Join us on our journey
We have a variety of opportunities in our new Data Centre of Excellence. Take a look at our latest vacancies or sign up for job alerts by email.