Tableau Conference - data transformation in action as Bentley Motors drives into its second century

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan November 11, 2021 Audio mode
Bentley Motors Beyond 100 strategy involves a significant data transformation element that's already delivering benefits.

Bentley logo

Late last year, diginomica profiled luxury car manufacturer Bentley Motors drive to bolster its sustainability credentials through its multi-year Beyond 100 program. This was pitched by CEO Adrian Hallmark in the following terms: 

Since 1919, Bentley has defined luxury grand touring. Being at the forefront of progress is part of our DNA - the original ‘Bentley Boys’ were pioneers and leaders. Now, as we look Beyond100, we will continue to lead by reinventing the company and becoming the world’s benchmark luxury car business.

Setting out to make that vision a reality has seen the firm make a significant commitment to the Salesforce platform offerings, including Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Service Cloud, as well as Mulesoft and Tableau.

At this week’s Tableau Conference, it was, of course, the last of those that came under the spotlight as Bentley’s Chief Digital Office Rob Savin talked about the company’s data transformation strategy in action. The context for this is clear, he noted:

Last year, we launched our Beyond 100 strategy for the future of our company, focusing first of all on the portfolio and full electrification of our products, but also going into end-to-end carbon neutrality by 2030. Combined with that, actually is our extraordinary customer experiences because we are a luxury brand. It's not just about interacting with our product. That we enable in few ways. First of all, through the great people we have and the culture they create, but also through digitalization, providing them with the tools, the technology, the data that they need, because we're trying to drive our business by data driven decisions, and by acting for the best customer needs.

As noted back in 2020, it’s a bold vision and one that perhaps might not be automatically expected to be seen at a more-than-a-century-old classic car manufacturer. In fact, said Savin, the appetite for change is in the corporate DNA:

One thing that really impressed about Bentley, from the day I started, is the ambition to change and transform [in] a company that's 100 years old with one hell of a history. So  it wasn't difficult to decide that we want to change, but it's about the direction of that transformation and also trying to maintain that now. It's not just engagement we need at the start, but also in turning that into the activity that's going to make it not just our culture, but our day-to-day behavior and habits. They're going to deliver it.

Trusted data

Trust in the quality of data is crucial, added Andy Moore, the company’s Collaboration Leader:

Simply connecting the data is not enough. We need to understand what data we want to share, what levels we want to drill into within the data, and even how often we refresh the data, whether it's a live update or whether it's a monster weekly refresh, because that has performance impact on the dashboards.

Bentley has identified three key roles in its data transformation process, he added:

The first is the business owners They understand the process and they understand what they're trying to show from the dashboard, what story they're trying to tell. The second role is the data owners. They understand the source of the data, how that database is constructed, what each of the headers mean. And then the final role is the dashboard creator who's trained in Tableau and can draw in  that data and then create the dashboards that meet the business owners requirements. And that's underpinned by the executive sponsor, who for that function, is able to make sure that we're providing business value, and that everything is underpinning our Beyond 100 strategy.

Making sure that all those roles are playing their part is essential, he said:

It's important we invest the time into getting those data connections right . In the data prep, we tend to start with small proof of concepts until we've got agreement that that data is trusted. We can then scale those data sources into many more dashboards and do that quickly afterwards.

Being able to point to successes on the journey is an enabler for adoption and acceptance of the new tech, said Savin:

One of the things that's really driven that though is finding those first impacts and that first success. Nothing drives that following, that behavior, that support that we need every single day than identifying each of those individual wins across that journey.

To date, this is a journey that, while it still has a way to go, has delivered positive benefits for Bentley and its Beyond 100 ambitions. Savin concluded:

We're really seeing the value of data as an asset to the business in terms of what it enables for us. As leaders, we have to instil within our functions that data-driven decision making. We can do that quite simplistically by first of all making the data available to people and making it really visual so people can understand it, interrogate it  on demand. That’s driving faster decision making. Tools that we've offered, including the use of Tableau and internal applications to put that data at your fingertips, also drive success for our business and nothing generates more in terms of support than success.

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