What we learnt from talking to our members about data

On the Friday before our AGM, we held an event at Federation House so we could continue the conversation about how the Co-op uses and shares members’ data. We wanted to invite our members to help us shape our data policy in person. It was an open invitation and 63 people took the time to chat to us.

We ran 3 workshops to find out:

  1. How the Co-op compares to other businesses when it comes to being trusted with data.
  2. What data are people willing to share for social benefit and commercial benefit.
  3. What types of usage of data people are happy with.

Being trusted with data

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In this workshop, we asked people about the organisations they trusted (or didn’t) to use their data, with examples from banks, telecoms, member organisations, broadcasters to bring the subject alive. Depending on their personal experiences with those organisations, people have very different views around who they trust to hold their data securely and use that data sensibly.

An important thing we learnt was that the organisations people trust with their data have very clear reasons for why they hold different data and how they use it. Some people thought that, as the Co-op, we might end up with large amounts of data from across our different businesses (insurance, food, electrical and legal services). They wanted us to be clear about how we use those different types of data. So, as we build new data stores, we need to make sure that we’re careful and transparent when sharing members’ data across the Co-op.

Willingness to share

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Our second workshop asked if members were OK with sharing different types of data with the Co-op – information like their age, gender, salary, religious beliefs. We split the group into 2. One half was thinking about sharing data for commercial reasons, to improve our products and services. The other half was thinking about sharing data for social reasons, like community research.

We gave the groups a scale of how comfortable they were with sharing, from “Not at all” to “Yes please”.  People have many different opinions and different worries, concerns or reasons for sharing. Most people made up their minds with a firm “no” or “yes”, but the reasons for their answer varied widely, and some people changed their mind as the group debated the issues.

What does this tell us? Well, if we’re going to be trusted with holding more data, we’re going to have to give people choices around how their data might be used, both within the Co-op and externally.

Play your consent right

The third workshop was a game where people voted about whether they would give consent to companies to use their data for specific purposes. For example, if people would consent to the Co-op using their habits of purchasing pet food from Co-op stores to let them know about special offers in pet insurance.

Feelings were pretty much summarised by 2 responses:

  1. “I’m an individual – don’t assume what I’m interested in by age, postcode, gender.”
  2. “Maybe I shouldn’t provide more data about myself in case I miss out on special offers that the Co-op targets at particular people.”

We’ll need to think about how to use data to help people find the things we think they are most interested in, whilst not precluding people from other offers.

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Hearing from data experts

We live-streamed the opening discussions and you can watch the keynote and panel discussions on our Youtube channel.

A massive thank you to our experts who gave up their time to travel to Manchester, speak, answer questions and mingle throughout the event. So thank you:

What’s next

It’s not too late to join the conversation because we’ll keep talking to our members about data. Last week we published a post called Speaking to our members about how their personal data is used. We’re going to look at and analyse the feedback we got from the survey more closely to pick up more themes and add what we found out at this event

In the coming weeks, we’ll join Data Leaders to plan improving how we use data across the Co-op. We will also be working with our colleagues in Data Protection. And of course, we’ll discuss all of this with our Members’ Council and advisory boards.

Rob McKendrick
Head of Data Engineering

Looking for different ways members can get involved with Co-op

Recently we started looking at different ways in which our members can get involved with our Co-op and share their opinions. Some examples of what members have supported so far are:

To get involved, members simply go to Co-op Membership and find something they’d like to join in with. 

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Co-op Membership 

Not everyone is confident with digital channels and there’s a perception that it’s only young people who will embrace things like this. It would be a shame if that was the case, because the invitation to participate is open and relevant to all our members.

To make sure that we’re including as many our of members as possible we’re keeping an eye on the sign-up data. Using this we’re learning what we can do better.

This data is handled anonymously, sensitively and securely. This is about us using data for the benefit of our members to help us to be an inclusive Co-op.

I had a look at some of the data and plotted the following histograms of the ages of Members who signed up for the opportunities listed at the start of this post:

An image showing co-op Member ages and sign up's to our Join In initiative

To me, this data tells us we’re attracting members from a wide range of ages. The different opportunities themselves are appealing to different ages too. There’s a lot more to be said about this data but I’ll leave it there for now and welcome readers to comment.

Alex Waters
Data Science

 

Hello to Steve Fisher

Following on from my last blog post where I welcomed Kevin Humphries to the team, I’m pleased to introduce Steve Fisher to CoopDigital as head of data projects.

Picture of Steve Fisher - head of data projects

If you’ve been following the CoopDigital blog then you will know that our goal is to become the membership organisation that is most trusted with data. In which data, in its broadest sense is something that can create more value for members and their communities.

Steve will help us to do that. With over 20 years extracting insights from very large and complex data sources, most recently with Oliver Wyman where he was the head of data engineering.

Working with cross functional teams across Co-op, Steve will ensure that colleagues that need to make decisions have access to the data and insight they need in a way that makes it really easy for them to use and they can get the greatest value from.

You’ll hear more from Steve in the next few months. Welcome Steve.

Catherine Brien
Data Science Director