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Meet Joanna Teo: Customer-Focused Data Evangelist

Meet Joanna Teo: Customer-Focused Data Evangelist

Trailblazer Joanna Teo, Managing Director of Attribute Data, discusses the power of data and why people drive success.

At Salesforce, Nichola Palmer works with customers to bring their stories of innovation and transformation to life. In this series featuring Trailblazers, Nichola introduces Joanna Teo, Managing Director of Attribute Data. Much of Joanna’s career has been spent convincing businesses of the powerful influence data has on exceptional customer experience. More from Nichola here.

Around 13 years ago, Joanna Teo was a digital analyst at OgilvyOne Worldwide. Part of her responsibility involved analysing data to figure out whether online ads were working.

Joanna and her colleagues discovered that by looking at the right data, they were able to understand a lot more about the people who interacted with those ads. For example, they could identify patterns of behaviour once people entered a site, and find out what other products they were interested in. 

She realised that her team had the power to understand how and why customers behaved the way they did prior to, during, and following an interaction. The data offered hints as to the true nature and drivers of their customer experience.

The problem was that many colleagues and clients didn’t appreciate the value of this knowledge. Following this, Joanna had to spend time and energy convincing them of its potential.

Now, almost 13 years later, and in a dramatically advanced technological environment, she’s having similar discussions, but in a far more receptive environment. As founder and Managing Director of customer intelligence consultancy Attribute Data, Joanna spends much time showing data-savvy clients where to look for the most transformational information.

“There has always been a balance between having clients understand that you need more time and more budget for this work, rather than spending everything on ads, or upgrading websites,” she says.

“More businesses are now understanding the beauty of data and what it can do for customer relationships. They realise that’s important because success is not just about the moment of transaction.”

“At Attribute Data, we focus on customer data. We want to know what customers are doing, thinking, and feeling. A lot of businesses want to figure out how to increase the amount of money customers spend with them. To do this, they first have to realise relationships are not transactional, they’re long-term and they are about experience.”

Meet Joanna Teo, Managing Director of Attribute Data.

Data reveals the truth

Joanna Teo’s LinkedIn page has a three-word title: “actionable intelligence evangelist”. It’s a fitting label for a professional who has spent her career finding powerful meaning in data and convincing clients of its value.

Joanna attended Singapore Management University, earning a BSc Information Systems Management. 

While studying, she interned with Yahoo!  later accepting a network optimisation role after graduation, where she was mentored by world-class managers. She learned about performance influenced costs, and the advantage of having accurate data insights. 

During her time at Yahoo!, the organisation relied on data to win market share in certain parts of the business, optimise ad pricing strategies, and ensure customer success with ad campaigns. Sometimes Yahoo! found success, sometimes competitors had wins. 

What became clear to Joanna was that the secret to success was to be found in the proper analysis of the right data. 

“In hindsight, it made me realise how limiting it is to be focused only within your own business, to not pop your head up and see what’s happening in the market.”

This led to her next move deep into data analytics at OgilvyOne, where she realised that growth was also about knowing what motivated customer behaviour. It was about understanding people. As important as technology had become in every organisation, sector, and market, it held little value if it didn’t serve human needs.

Those needs, Joanna knew, were revealed through data.

People drive success

In her own business, Joanna realised from the very beginning that people, rather than technology, drive success. 

She launched Attribute Data, a Salesforce partner, six years ago and now has 14 employees. Its success has seen the launch of operations in China this year. 

“It’s a consultancy, so of course it’s about people,” Joanna says. “We focus on collecting data about how people feel, behave, and think.”

Joanna is proud of the fact that during the COVID-19 pandemic, she held on to all her staff. This was partly due to the fact that she employed the right types of people. New hires naturally require an analytical mindset, but she does not hire for specific skill sets  New employees can learn on the job, as long as they have the right attitude.

“Having the right mindset is important,” she says. “They must be ready to continuously learn, because this is not a stagnant industry. Our people take classes with industry partners such as Salesforce to develop highly industry-relevant skills.”

What about her own development? Joanna has completed several university-based short courses. These include a Data Science Specialisation from Johns Hopkins University, a Big Data and Social Analytics program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an AI and Business Strategy program at Nanyang Technological University. Next, she’s planning to complete a Master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence.

“I enjoy learning,” Joanna says. “I have set aside an annual budget that I call the ‘enrichment fund’ that all staff can tap into,” Joanna says. “It is very motivating because they choose what they’re going to do.

“We need to make data as palatable as possible for our clients, which means we need to enjoy what we’re doing. If we’re engaged, our clients will be too.”

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For more stories of our Trailblazers, check out these other posts from our Inspired Trailblazers series:

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