Placing a business intelligence strategy at the heart of a global news agencies operations – and mindset.

Building upon a strong client relationship that Wilson Fletcher has held with an independent news organisation for more than 10 years, I worked alongside chief strategist Mark Wilson to design a data strategy that would place business intelligence at the heart of this organisations operations – and mindset.

A black and white photo of the 9/11 memorial in New York

A new city

Over 10 weeks, Mark and I crafted a strategy for how this organisation's business intelligence capability could be developed to turn data into an enabler of growth.

We conducted remote and in-person stakeholder interviews and workshops to determine goals and desired outcomes for the strategy. Extensive market research and interviews with industry experts were conducted to gain insight into what competitors and customer organisations were focusing on. We were also required to gain a comprehensive understanding of the organisation's current resources and technology architecture.

We delivered a strategy that set out how this organisations business intelligence capabilities should be built out to support business growth and operational optimisation. The focus of this strategy became to identify how to unlock the value in editorial resources and to gain a better understanding of their competitiveness in the market.

This strategy was delivered in a document containing: synthesised research insights, recommendations and rationale for futurestate business architecture, priority areas and focus and, execution options to drive the strategy forward.

Framing the opportunity

Data has long been a weak point for this news organisation – and we both knew it. What we didn't know, however, was how to leverage data to grow in a market where competitors had a decade head start.

To address this, we split the program of work into two phases. The first was an initial scoping phase consisting of 15-20 in-depth stakeholder interviews. This was to properly assess the opportunity and design the necessary programme to create a long-term data strategy for the organisation.

“We don't have that data because of our culture of doing things on gut instinct”

“Going into a contract negotiation where our customers know far more about the use of our content than we do puts us in a very weak position”

“It’s become very 'seat of the pants' based on the years of experience. But I feel more in the dark than I ever did”

“Our organisation definitely undervalues having data experts in-house, we've been arguing about it for a long time”

“It’s like a plate of spaghetti. You have to have a real knowledge about how to connect all that and then you'll still be scratching your head”

“We don't have that data because of our culture of doing things on gut instinct”

It was no surprise to find that this organisation's business intelligence capabilities lagged behind those of its peers and were far behind their most successful customers. The primary goal of the program became to identify which resources could be used for more valuable activities and, consequently, gain a better understanding of their market competitiveness.


Intense and frequent stakeholder workshops are always a pleasure. They are one of the best ways to continue to build better relationships with familiar faces, introduce yourself to some new ones, and do great work. The hypothesis workshops in this program proved to do just that. Conducted remotely (and in-person due to a very fortunately timed trip to New York), I facilitated these internal workshops with ‘stakeholder experts’ to identify the key ‘hypotheses’ about where BI can and should have the greatest impact on the organisation.

The workshops were framed to be in three years from now and focus on the six core areas of the business: competitiveness, commercial, strategy, editorial, organisation and culture. Stakeholders were prompted to leave today's situation at the door, ignore any historic frustrations and not use negatives like ‘we'll never do that' or ‘we tried that and it didn't work'.

For each core business area, we prompted stakeholders with a vision of the future and three questions that related to it. One of the best outcomes from these workshops was uncovering the notion that the organisation's path forward was more about expertise and people than technology. This was particularly surprising for some stakeholders to see, especially in a data strategy program where some may think technology is king.

A screenshot of the workshops Miro board

This program was very agile. Workshops overlapped interviews, synthesis was ongoing throughout, and we were always learning. Based on the themes emerging from the hypothesis-building workshops and drafts of strategic goals, the tracks of work for the next several years started to come together and inform the overall vision for the organisation's data strategy.


One of the biggest outcomes from this strategy project – aside from the roadmap for execution itself – was helping stakeholders realise the shift in mindset required by the organisation for them to successfully realise any opportunity that involved data.

For too long, great data has been wasted within this organisation because of a lack of understanding, bad framing, or simply not having the tools required to engage with it. The knock-on effect of a strategy program like this, where stakeholders from across the business are engaged, is that it brings these conversations to light in the right way and gets people asking the right questions.

We delivered two roadmaps in this strategy. The first, an ambitious approach to transforming their businesses and quickly exploiting the opportunity they have in the market. The second, a somewhat more gentle approach to building the capabilities they require to transform over time. I believe we have left them with the tools to successfully execute it.

The execution of this roadmap is scheduled to kick off in Q1 2023.

Global independent news organisation [NDA]


2022 – 2023


London & New York (Hybrid)


Service Designer & Strategist – Jack Strachan & Lead strategist – Mark Wilson