The need for digital talent

This is my first blog post, so a quick introduction; I’m Ian, and I look after the digital team’s corporate relations and partnerships, ensuring we have the right skills, resources and people to deliver our plans.

It’s no secret that finding and securing the best digital talent is important for many organisations, including the Co-op.

Simply put, there isn’t enough to go around. Addressing this is the domain of people like Makers’ Academy, who think the solution is to find a way for more developers to enter the market. They offer a 12-week intensive course, taking people through a curriculum which they believe results in job-ready junior developers. More than 600 people have completed the course so far. That number is growing. They’ve now introduced remote learning too.


A few of us from CoopDigital (myself,
Danielle Haugedal-Wilson, Paul Furley and new recruit Gemma Cameron) visited them in East London. We spoke about the Co-op, the journey we’re on and the opportunities we have.

I’m delighted that the 170 year-old Co-op was so well received by this group of Shoreditch based digital natives. They were interested not only in our digital plans and our ways of working but also in the Co-op business model, our values and the advantages of membership. We talked to them about some of the incredibly interesting problems we have to solve, bringing benefits to our colleagues, members and communities.

One of the founding principles of the Co-op is helping our members to help themselves, so we also need to determine what this means for us in a digital age. We hope the chance to help Co-op solve those problems attracts some great people. It certainly seems to be working so far.

It seems it’s not just us who are excited by these prospects, also new digital professionals looking for a challenge can see the potential in the Co-op. So much so that most of those we spoke to at Makers’ Academy are planning a visit to Manchester this week.

See our vacancies in Co-op’s digital team here.

Ian Dunnett
Head of Strategic Growth and Partnerships

Kevin Humphries joins CoopDigital

Hi, I’m Catherine and I’ve been at CoopDigital since July, learning more about how our Co-op understands its data. As Mike said at the AGM earlier this year, our ambition is to be trusted with our members’ data, by only using their data for good. But, we need to earn that trust.

We’ll say more about our vision in future blog posts as our work develops. Today, I’m delighted to welcome Kevin Humphries to the team, who joins us to help shape our approach to data.

Kevin Humphries joins CoopDigital

Kevin was the first chief architect for HM Government where he established a central Government architecture function and has previously been a lead technologist in retail, financial services and utilities sectors. As part of his work here at the Co-op, Kevin will design our overall data architecture as well as setting the standards that we will use to manage our data.

His initial objectives are to:

  • Create a clear vision for how we manage our data across the Co-op
  • Outline a clear plan for how to achieve our vision

Kevin will start by speaking with colleagues across the business to understand where we are today, in terms of how our data is used and managed. We’ll keep you updated through this blog.

Catherine Brien
Data Science Director

Delivery in engineering

I’ve recently joined the CoopDigital team where I’ll be heading up delivery for engineering. I’m currently supporting the teams getting our new membership  ready for public launch in the Autumn.

Picture of the team working on new Co-op Membership
Some of the team working on new Co-op Membership

As you can probably tell if you’ve been following our blog, you’ll see that we are growing our internal capability to ensure we can support new and existing businesses with digital expertise.

I’ve worked in digital since 2000, but in the last 6 years have specialised in Agile delivery for media or retail applications. Most recently I was part of a BBC team that transformed ways of working for some key TV and mobile applications to ensure that value was delivered incrementally, enhancing the end user experience and reducing waste in getting there. This involved smaller multidisciplinary teams that were product led with the end user at the heart of all prioritisation.

The team here is in it’s infancy but with some exciting work lining up and an open culture where continuous improvement is encouraged I am very excited about being part of the team that can help set this up for success.

If you’re interested in getting involved and helping to shape our Delivery culture why not have a look at our existing vacancies.

Anna Dick

Work Experience at CoopDigital

Hello my name is Caitlin. I’m 15 and have spent a week with CoopDigital on work experience.

Picture of Caitlin
Caitlin Graham

I’m doing computing at school as one of my GCSEs where I’m the only girl in my computing class. So far I’ve learnt the basics of Python and MySQL using Codeacademy and Grok Learning.

I chose Co-op for my work experience because my mum, who works in IT at Co-op forwarded an email she had received about the CodeGirl event that was held at 1 Angel Square by Ladies of Code and arranged by Danielle. I emailed Danielle and got an almost instant response, it was that easy. 

I expected the people that I was going to work with in the week would have tunnel vision on their own projects. But I was wrong, the people on every team are very involved with each other, and a lot more relaxed than I expected, but they still got their jobs done very well.

On my first day I spent time with the social media team, doing Boolean searches to analyse things people had said about retailers on Fathers Day on social media, the conversations were really interesting.

My second morning was spent with the Paperfree team, which was brilliant because instead of listening and being passive, I felt like they wanted me involved with their team, and valued what I had to say.

I think my favourite day was my third. It was spent coding with Thoughtworks and BJSS. I learned to code in JavaScript, which I’d never done before.

I also learnt to code in HTML on my fourth day, which was different but interesting. Becky who is working on the Wills Alpha helped me build a website for French Bulldogs, which was brilliant.

I’ve had a great week here and felt very welcomed by everyone. Thank you.

Caitlin Graham.

Codegirl at 1 Angel Square

On Tuesday evening we screened the film Codegirl at 1 Angel Square. It is an outstanding film about a global competition which encourages young women to create digital services, and shows the craziness of our current gender imbalance in our approach to technology and digital services. The evening was the brainchild of the amazing Danielle Haugedal-Wilson, one of the leading technology architects here at Co-op Digital.

It was great to see so many people from Manchester and the North West in attendance and we look forward to seeing them again during future events and community activity that we will be hosting throughout 2016 as we ramp up our digital team.

A few people have asked me for some of the facts I presented, so below is the brief speech I made on the night – Thanks to Russell Davies for researching these statistics.

Room4IMG_1830

“Good evening.

Thank you for coming tonight to our screening of Codegirl the first of many such events as we work with the digital community in Manchester.

I’m Mike Bracken, I’m Chief Digital Officer here at the Co-op and I’m acutely aware that I’m both the wrong gender and the wrong age to be standing on this stage, so I’m just going to say a few quick things and then I’m going to let you get on with the movie.

First of all – thank you to you all for coming. I’m hoping this will be the first of many similar events we’ll host here at the Co-op and I hope to see many of you again.

Secondly – thanks to my colleagues at the Co-op who helped to organise and publicise this event – Polly, Nicola, Paul, Vicky and the hospitality crew who have been amazing.

Thirdly, most importantly, I want to thank Danielle whose idea this whole screening was. Thanks Danielle!

And finally, I’ve been trying to think of something practical and useful I can say so that when you leave here this evening, inspired and excited, you are armed with some facts you can use to cause practical change wherever you work.

So I did some digging and here are some useful things to remember:

According to McKinsey and I quote:  “Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.”

i.e. companies with more women in them perform better.

According to the Harvard Business Review and Carnegie Mellon University  Harvard Business Review and Carnegie Mellon University .

i.e. teams with more women in them are smarter.

According to the VC firm First Round First Round and I quote again  “companies with a female founder performed 63% better than our investments with all-male founding teams.”

i.e. start-ups with female leaders make more money.

We’re likely to have 1 million vacancies in the tech sector by 2020. Let’s make sure more than half of them are filled by women.

And now, let’s watch the movie.”


 

Mike Bracken. Chief Digital Officer, The Co-operative Group

@MTBracken

The art of conversation generation

The art of conversation is a difficult one to master, but as Community Managers at The Co-op, we’re responsible for predicting and evaluating the direction and volume of conversation across social media – in real time. In short, we help turn social conversation around our brand into an asset.

So when it came to Valentine’s Day this year, the objective was clear. Co-op Food were going after breakfast. After all, we are your local convenience store with all you need for the perfect breakfast in bed, from freshly baked croissants to award-winning Prosecco, or even just some (Fairtrade) tea bags for a morning brew! It made sense.

Food Marketing, PR and the commercial teams worked on their above-the-live proposition, looping in the support of Channel 4’s Fred Sirieix from #FirstDates, and we in the Social Media Community Management team set about generating the right conversation, at the right time!

We had two simple objectives: encourage users to share inspiration beforehand and then share in real-time on the big day. We choreographed a strategy in two phases. Firstly we hit key online influencers (who we already know and love) with a surprise through the post – Truly Irresistible croissants, coffee, Valentine’s chocolate and some Hazelnut spread for a truly indulgent breakfast in bed. All this, ahead of the big day, as a taster for them and their audiences. This acted as a catalyst with the influencer community sharing their breakfast ideas in the week running up to Valentine’s Day.

Then we targeted consumers with the next batch ensuring their #LoveAtFirstLight breakfast box arrived on Saturday 13th, just in time for their Sunday morning treat where they gladly shared photos of their breakfast from bed, the beach and with their whole family too!

Co-op's valentine's conversation on 14th February (green) versus the grocery market's campaigns
Co-op’s valentine’s conversation on 14th February (green) versus the grocery market’s campaigns

Together these simple gestures helped Co-op Food become the #1 most talked about Valentine’s campaign within the UK grocery sector on Valentine’s morning. 20% of the day’s conversation was made up of our audiences sharing their breakfast in bed with us too. Our volume peaked at 11am and we then handed over the Valentine’s baton to the likes of Aldi, but our work as your local Co-op was done. We’d served breakfast in bed to the nation and it was delicious.



Find me on Twitter @jordanjmcdowell

Or contact me by email

Creating content for a crowded market

Even for big brands, entering a crowded space can be difficult with lower chances of success. Just to put this into perspective, in December 1.7m blog posts were published each day on WordPress sites. In December 2015 we spoke about drink driving and championed road safety for General Insurance yet knew we needed a unique angle; something credible whilst interactive for users to take notice of and resonate with. We broke through and turned a famously negative story in to a positive one and developed a designated driver finder, encouraging users to designate a driver over the festive period.

Designated Driver Finder Hompage image 1Designated Driver Finder Wheel image 2

The simple functionality allowed 5 user names to be entered and a driver chosen at random. We added an engagement feature which rewarded the driver with an IOU, owed to them by their friends. This added humour and increased shareability.

As our main objective was to generate links we commissioned research to add credibility. Unique data partnered with interactive onsite content allowed us to attract links and brand mentions from top tier websites. We also tracked engagement on blogs who featured our content and found various angles such as Christmas mocktails and shared their stories.


Jen Bowden, SEO Manager – @jenbowden1

Using WhatsApp to connect store managers.

Being able to instantly communicate and interact with each other within an organisation is something that is easy to take for granted – particularly when you all work under the same roof, but can be a challenge when you have over 2,800 food stores.  The short video below tells the story of how we use WhatsApp at the Co-op to connect all our store managers.

Let me know what you think, you can find me on Twitter @GailTwist or feel free to comment below.

Our First Ever Social Media Clinic

This week we hosted our first ever Social Media Clinic at our Support Centre, 1 Angel Square, for colleagues in the building to drop-in for a brew and talk social.

As a team, we’ve been hosting The Co-op Social Media Forum three times a year for a while now, where we speak about the latest innovations in social and the work we’ve been doing, but it was brilliant to get some one-on-one time with colleagues interested in social.

Just to have a natter, really.

I managed to help a colleague from HR understand more about hashtags and Twitter, helping her send her first tweet about a local baking competition she’s entering (good luck Sophie!) and also helped another colleague download WhatsApp onto her phone and send a message to her son who is away serving with the Royal Navy.

We spoke to colleagues about better integrating social intelligence data into the work of our sustainability and policy teams, and even our product development teams. We chatted about Facebook privacy and showcased social intelligence via our Brandwatch Vizia visualisations too.

We’re all looking forward to the next incarnation of the Social Media Clinic, and for the next Social Media Forum on Thursday 26th November!


Find me on Twitter @jordanjmcdowell

Or contact me by email

#TasteAndTell and Colleague Advocacy on Social Media

I’m Scott, a Community Manager at the Co-op, and I’ve been working on #TasteAndTell at The Co-operative Food for the last few months, encouraging conversation among our social communities.

We’ve been encouraging our colleagues to become brand advocates on social and to talk openly on their own social channels about the products we sell in our Food stores. #TasteAndTell is one of the ways we do this. The Food business launched the programme to all stores and depots last September and since then we’ve had conversations with colleagues about four products: Loved By Us Sweet and Salty Popcorn, Loved By Us New York Vanilla Cheesecake, Loved By Us Halloween Pumpkin Cake and Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Chocolate.

Every Food store and depot is sent enough of each product for the whole team to try and are encouraged to review the product by posting #Telfie’s (like a selfie, but better!) to their social networks. We capture feedback via surveys too, to feedback into the product development process.

#tasteandtell conversation volume
Social conversation volume spikes around #TasteAndTell product drops

By encouraging colleagues to get talking on social, we’ve seen colleagues more confident about speaking to customers in the aisles too bolstered with more knowledge about, and more experience of, the products we sell. It’s not just talk either with incremental sales on #TasteAndTell lines increasing for both colleague and non-colleague consumers, the colleague advocacy programme is achieving great results for the business.