The CMO Show:
Patrick McQuaid on transforming business...

As the boundary between marketing and technology becomes increasingly blurred, the trend in some circles is to decry the prominence given to data in marketing. But for Australia’s enterprises – it’s still big business.

With more than 12.7 million customers and the organisation’s history of global leadership in data in his court, Patrick McQuaid, NAB’s General Manager Customer Data and Analytics has a pivotal role to play in the organisation’s ongoing digital transformation.

Data-driven marketing and personalised customer experience sit at the core of NAB’s new $1.5bn “digital first” strategy – which for Patrick, means trying to make sense of the massive quantities of customer data generated by one of Australia’s largest companies.

“Analytics is the only way to deliver great customer experiences,” he says, “because it’s the only way we know our customers.”

“I want to use our data, our knowledge and our smarts to improve how we talk, and how we provide experience to customers. I reckon that means they’ll stay with us, they’ll deepen relationships with us and they’ll be happier.”

For many organisations that have embraced data-driven marketing, it can be a tough act to incorporate both the reactive tendencies of data-derived insights against the more proactive, customer-leading ideas of traditional ‘creatives’.

However, Patrick rejects the dichotomy between the two groups, arguing that the two are both indispensable aspects of marketing today.

“Sometimes you’ve still got the marketing or advertising big idea or great idea, so sometimes the creative comes first, and sometimes the analytics comes first. I think it’s a two-way channel.”

More than a decade after “big data” entered marketing lexicon, many implementers are chiefly concerned with the quality, rather than quantity of their data, and there’s been a boom in services promising more relevant data.

With the perspective of someone who came to marketing via data, rather than the other way round, Patrick says that when used for marketing, data quality isn’t his biggest concern.

“I know that’s heresy to say, but we’re often looking at large data sources and patterns in data to create models and draw inferences that we can then use to reach out to customers. So when you’re looking at large data sets, you can accept some element of poor quality.”

“Data fragmentation is more the issue for us,” he says, “just having data in so many different places”.

Working within an organisation of more than 30,000 employees and an increasing focus on digital partnerships, ensuring that the relevant data makes it through to his team can be a challenge – although it’s essential to ensuring their success.

“What we found is when the smaller marketing teams were scattered everywhere, we had a real problem with creating enough noise to get the investment or enough oomph behind them to drive those projects. I’m pretty proud to say we’ve made some real strides.”

In this episode of The CMO Show we take a trip down memory lane to revisit some past episodes highlighting all things data and analytics, including, Tomer Garzberg, CEO of GRONADE, Adventurous thinker Sally Dominguez and Harvey Sanchez, Marketing Director at Accenture Interactive,

…Also if you’re interested in the application of positive psychology and neuroscience in workplaces, make sure you check out Patrick’s wife Michelle McQuaid’s Making Positive Psychology Work podcast.

Tune in as Patrick joins Mark and Nicole to talk about his journey from data to marketing, its interplay with creativity and the nuances of enterprise marketing.



The CMO Show production team

Producer – Candice Witton, Charlotte Goodwin

Audio Engineers – Daniel Marr & Tom Henderson

Got an idea for an upcoming episode or want to be a guest on The CMO Show? We’d love to hear from you:


Hosts: Mark Jones and Nicole Manktelow

Guest: Patrick McQuaid

Mark Jones: If you think about a pendulum swing between data and creativity there’s a strong theme out there in marketing land that we’ve swung too far towards data. What if you’re a large organisation and you’ve got heaps of data? How can you use that most effectively to drive your business decisions and improve your creativity?

Mark Jones: Thanks for joining us again on the CMO Show. My name is Mark Jones.

Nicole Manktelow:  And I’m Nicole Manktelow. We are the double act bringing you the world of marketing and the future and all of those things including data and transformation today.

Mark Jones:  Right, and thinking of double X, data and creativity, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. If you read the tea leaves of the marketing universe we’re talking about there’s almost like a backlash against data.

Nicole Manktelow:  Absolutely. I think people feel like it’s just giving away too much ground.

Mark Jones:  we’re all about data in this particular show. It’s been fascinating to think about the financial services sector in some detail.

Mark Jones:  Our guest is Patrick McQuaid, General Manager, Customer Data and Analytics at NAB. I think of these guys, by the way, as large technology shops with a banking licence. They got a lot of technology and a lot of data.

Nicole Manktelow:  I think NAB is swimming in data and has been for decades. If anyone’s going to make good use of it it should be them.

Mark Jones:  It should be them. What do you do with it, right? It’s interesting, we wanted to speak with Patrick because he is really working at how to transform the bank through customer insights and through data insights. This is a universal problem we have in many large organisations actually. It’s one thing to collect it all but it’s another thing to use it well.

Mark Jones: Let’s have a listen to Patrick and see what he’s got to say.

Mark Jones:  It sounds an intriguing role to those like us who like data in their marketing. Can you give us a quick overview of the sorts of things that you do every day?

Patrick McQuaid:  Yeah. I guess I have sort of three components to my team. One is, I have a series of functions which helps me get data, and some of that is research data from customers, some of that is external data from partners, and other is internal data where I have a team that works with our technology teams to get data. The second function I have is my analytics functions, and they’re of course the ones who make sense of the data and look for patterns, and find things that our customers are telling us in the data, and then the third function I have is my execution function who uses Adobe Campaign, predominantly, and turns those insights into experiences for customers.

Patrick McQuaid: So using whatever the data tells us and what do the analytics tell us, to then interact with our customers and hopefully make their experiences better.

Mark Jones:  So that sounds very comprehensive, and I know that a lot of marketers have been working on different parts of those different components that you speak about for quite some time. Can you give us a bit of a sense of the journey, to get to this point because it sounds like you’ve got a lot of things happening there.

Patrick McQuaid:  Yeah. The journey is ongoing definitely and I don’t think anyone would ever say they’re done in this area, at least not for quite a few years. But NAB has actually had quite a history in terms of using analytics. I think 12, 15 years ago, we were considered a leader, and that was worldwide even, in the use of our Teradata platform. Back then it was providing insights to bankers when they were talking to customers, but I think it’s fair to say that we lost that leadership, especially the last five or six years, and just didn’t invest in our platforms.

Patrick McQuaid:  So what happened about two years ago now, is we restructured marketing and we brought the data analytics capability together. Again, it was distributed under myself. That was really to give it a voice and to sort of supercharge it so that we could start to drive investment, because what we found is when the smaller teams were scattered everywhere, we had a real problem with creating enough noise to get the investment or enough oomph behind them to drive that. So that’s what happened about two years ago, so since then, I’m pretty proud to say we’ve made some real strides. We landed our upgrade of the Teradata platform and created a new [Hudu 00:03:25] platform, so for anyone who doesn’t care about this sort of stuff, but it was very exciting.

Nicole Manktelow:  It’s okay. You’re amongst friends.

Mark Jones: Yeah. We’re old school in [inaudible 00:03:33] tech gigs so carry on.

Patrick McQuaid: Okay. Well I’m from technology originally, so I think that was-

Mark Jones:  There you go.

Patrick McQuaid:  … very unusual for me to leave, and I’m loving being in marketing. I think it’s the most amazing function that I had no idea about up until I came into it.

Mark Jones: Oh, really? Tell us more.

Patrick McQuaid:  Look, I was actually really, really surprised and pleasantly so obviously. I don’t think people understand that if you’re not in marketing, you don’t understand marketing, and so it was really eye-opening to me just how much science and analytics was involved. That’s changing somewhat now, and I came into marketing four years ago. The message is getting out there, but I was just amazed at how much marketing and tech are combining and blurring, and that would be I would say to any marketer now is … you need to take some time to understand technology. And I don’t just mean Adtech platforms and those sorts of things. One of my continual day to day struggles is explaining to marketers why even though they can see the data, doesn’t mean they can have the data. And part of that is understanding what technology does in order to connect things behind the scenes, and it’s really boring, but it’s really important. So you have to just know what it means to say, “Well, we have to go get that data.”

Nicole Manktelow:  Well now, that’s interesting because you’ve said that you’re a leader in many ways for more than a decade in having the data, and yet there’s been a transformation in the last two years, and I hear the word transformation a lot and I sometimes think we sort of gloss over it, but in your view, what is the fundamental difference between going and having the data and having it for some time, and what you’ve done more recently?

Patrick McQuaid:  Well, I think the problem was we had the data. Like I said, we used to be a leader in analytics, and this is the understanding that marketers need to get right. When we stopped investing in the platform, we stopped getting data. And so you’ve really got an insight system, this is two years ago, that was based on data sources that had stayed relatively constant for 10 or 15 years. we didn’t have digital data in our insights platform.

Nicole Manktelow:  Right. So you don’t know what you people were doing when they’re interacting with you through your mobile app, or your website.

Patrick McQuaid:  Exactly. Yeah. And in today’s world, that’s actually the biggest source of insight that you have.

Mark Jones:  By that, you mean real-time data. What’s happening this week.

Patrick McQuaid:  Yeah, not even real-time sometimes. Just knowing what people were doing online and the signals they’re sending, the pages they are looking at, the things they’re clicking on, the apps they’re filling out online. They don’t have to be real-time to be useful. Real-time absolutely is important and striking in the moment to help your customer when they are struggling on the website is where we wanna get to, but even being able to follow up with an offline message or banker advice, when you can see in the data what somebody is doing online, it’s still going to be useful to an extent.

Patrick McQuaid:  So it doesn’t have to real time, it’s a huge gap if you don’t have access to the data in your insights and analytics platform.

Mark Jones:  How do you make sure you get good data? They say, rubbish in, rubbish out.

Nicole Manktelow:  I always picture garbage trucks when you say that, Mark.

Patrick McQuaid:  Well, and it is true. Data quality and data consistency is a major concern for us. I think what we’ve gotta realise, with a lot of what we’re doing in marketing, at the moment anyway, it’s not critical. I know that’s heresy to say, but we’re often looking at large data sources and patterns in data to create models and draw inferences that we can then use to reach out to customers. So when you’re looking at large data sets, you can accept some element of poor quality. Some element right, I mean obviously there’s always a continuum.

Patrick McQuaid:  So we don’t have quite the same rigorous data needs, say as credit risk analysis or fraud. We’re lucky in that way. That is gonna change as we get closer and closer to the real-time, and we get closer and closer to a segment of one or extreme personalization. But and so we continually work with the Chief Data Officer and their team on trying to improve data quality. But it hasn’t been a huge issue. Data fragmentation is more the issue for us. Just having data in so many different places.

Mark Jones:  Okay. And you’re talking about internal data sources or is that more broadly through the sector

Patrick McQuaid:  Yeah. Predominantly. I think there’s a lot of talk about getting external data. I believe that if you don’t use your internal data well enough, you should probably pay attention to that first.

Nicole Manktelow:  Well, you’re talking about silos aren’t you? Most organisations have more silo data more than they probably realise. More huddles to get over and working with their own teams perhaps.

Patrick McQuaid:  Yeah, absolutely. and I think part of this stems back to what I said before is that people don’t understand how data driven marketing is and wants to be. I used to work in technology and I used to work in some of our core systems areas, and I do remember deprioritizing marketing, because I just was like well, “They don’t … that’s not critical they get this data.” So you cut that from your budget, all of a sudden you … now I realised that I got a customer analytics system which doesn’t have all the information about my customer. It’s a bit of a … we’ve gotta bridge that gap of understanding in order to get the prioritisation back up.

Nicole Manktelow:  How do you cope with the competitive or the potential threat of digital-only banking?

Patrick McQuaid:  We’ve got our digital-only banking, Ubank, in a lot of ways, so I think we find ourselves positioned very well to understand that. But we’re also looking to partner. I think most banks around the world have stopped seeing Fintech in general and digital-only banks as pure competition, and starting to look at what’s the collaboration play. you can go into certain narrow segments without a huge investment, but if you wanna become a true full-service digital bank, there’s a lot of investment required, a lot of understanding required. And so sometimes it makes sense to partner. So I think most people are thinking about, this is a partnership ecosystem.

Nicole Manktelow:  I wanted to find out, Patrick, from you, if your world has room for creativity in it. You’re working so much on the systems and getting the value out of the data, and how you implement that in meaningful ways, and I noticed, we’ve done a little bit of research here, we know you’ve got some wonderful tactical benefits of re-doing your EDMs so that you’ve got massive open rates now, and things like that. Solid things. But are they creative executions?

Patrick McQuaid:  Yeah. I think they are. I always think I’m pretty creative even though I’ve got a background in technology because my creativity is applied to problem solving. So I think we see that analytics people. Some of the part of the data science and analytics work we do is always an element of an art in it. You’ve gotta figure out the right question to ask or the right thread to pull. So I think we see a lot of that, but in terms of traditional … what would term in marketing terms “creative work”, that mostly comes out of our segment teams, which the way we are organised is we’re organised around the customer, and so we have segment teams to deal with specific customer segments, and I support across all those segments.

Patrick McQuaid:  So the pure creative work comes out of them, and we like to think, and I think we do, we inform that with data and our analytics and then we also tweak it and optimise it with our analytics as well.

Mark Jones:  So you’re providing the if you like the customer insights that feed that creative process.

Patrick McQuaid: Yeah. That’s the ideal model. Sometimes you still got the marketing or advertising big idea or great idea, so sometimes the creative comes first, and sometimes the analytics comes first. And I think we’re in a world that’s got an ebbing flow, depending on what you’re looking at.

Nicole Manktelow:  It’s a two-way channel, you’re saying.

Patrick McQuaid:  Yeah. I think so. I think if you get to pure analytics late you’re probably gonna miss a trick. And I think everyone recognises pure creative-led also, he’s gonna miss the trick.

Mark Jones:  It’s interesting brand strategists spend a lot of time on research in the field, and through different data sources. Kind of reflecting that into your model at NAB, is it a case of, you’ve got a representative sample of the population that allows you to get insights into for example sentiment, the value of your brand comparative to others, broad consumer trends in spending behaviour, interests and all that kind of stuff, kind of understanding what I’m saying?

Mark Jones:  You can almost be like that research bureau at a consumer level within the bank.

Patrick McQuaid:  Yeah. I have a little bit of research under me. The sort of the calling parts, where we call customers to get them to answer questions but a lot of the research, especially on external non-customers or prospects comes from agencies and then third parties, and I think what we look at that is it’s complementary and supplementary, I guess the two. So I’m generally in the quo space, numerical space, and then we use the quo to maybe test ideas, or to come up with the ideas first then get tested. This is that sort of that iteration I spoke about before.

Mark Jones:  So maybe in the future, from an insight’s point of view, there could be ways to explore how to blend those two different sources of input.

Patrick McQuaid:  Yeah. And we do sometimes, but I think you’ll find it is a bit difficult. Yeah. It’s just … mostly because you’re asking different things, right? And I used to run where … I implemented the MPS system at NAB, and I can tell you that what customers tell you sometimes is not the whole truth, so you’ve always gotta think about that from a research perspective.

Patrick McQuaid:  And that’s not necessarily because they are lying, it’s just because they don’t want to offend you, or they’re not thinking about the whole picture, or they are thinking about the last experience. They’ll give you a two on MPS and it’ll be because they tripped over their kid’s bike in them morning, not because of-

Mark Jones:  Net promoter score.

Nicole Manktelow:  Right.

Nicole Manktelow:  I think that you all know that focus groups are very flawed in that way, because humans are flawed. What we say we wanna do and what we actually wanna do, and then what we all do are all quite different. So it’s neural science.

Patrick McQuaid:  I think that’s why you end up, the complementing and supplementing each other.

Mark Jones:  That’s why I tell my kids, do what I say, not what I do. Just kidding.

Nicole Manktelow: And therein lies a whole other podcast I’m sure.

Mark Jones: I’m sure that’s a wonderful tangent. We’re enjoying speaking with you Patrick. Just you go, we have a number of rapid fire questions that we love to ask our guests to get a sense of who you are beyond the data.

Nicole Manktelow:  Maybe keep you on the edge of your seat a little bit.

Mark Jones: Is that okay?

Patrick McQuaid:  Okay. Yeah. Sure.

Nicole Manktelow:  What are you grateful for?

Patrick McQuaid:  I’m grateful for my kids. I love my boys.

Mark Jones:  There you go. In the movie of your life, who would play you?

Patrick McQuaid:  Do you know, I’m gonna sound really arrogant here, but I just like Hugh Jackman. I don’t think I look anything like him, or he looks anything like me, but he seems like a good guy.

Mark Jones:  He just can’t go wrong.

Nicole Manktelow:  I just can’t stop smiling when I hear his name.

Mark Jones: Oh. Goodness me. Yeah.

Nicole Manktelow:  What’s your greatest career fail?

Patrick McQuaid:  Yeah. Because there’s so many failures I’ve been involved in, but I wouldn’t class them as fails, if you know what I mean. But I think I implemented, where I was the technology lead on one customer view system several years ago, and as part of that, we implemented some new functionality on top of that, and I don’t think I challenged enough what the solution was, and so we ended up with a pretty substandard solution in places. The actual one customer view database is pretty good, but what we put on top of that in terms of a CRM, turned out to not be very good, and that’s my fault.

Mark Jones:  Right. There always awkward conversations and meetings and like-

Nicole Manktelow:  You must have learned a lot from that process.

Mark Jones: I reckon.

Patrick McQuaid: With the number of failures I have had, I’m really sick of learning at the moment

Mark Jones:  I gotta say as a former enterprise tech journal, it’s such great fodder by the way. It’s just never ending. The question … next one would be-

Nicole Manktelow: I reckon we ask what your best career advice is on the back of your many failings? Yeah.

Mark Jones: That one.

Patrick McQuaid:  Gosh. I think the best career advice is, keep asking questions and don’t be afraid to look dumb.

Mark Jones:  And if you weren’t a marketer, what would you be doing? Still doing enterprise tech, or something completely different?

Patrick McQuaid:  No, I don’t think I’m that suited. I actually don’t … I enjoy technology’s outcomes, I don’t enjoy technology, if that makes sense. What would I be? I think I like the … I’m a problem solver at heart, so I think I would probably end up going back to consulting or some other profession that’s just focused on how do we solve problems?

Nicole Manktelow:  What inspires you?

Patrick McQuaid:  Well, apart from my boys, I guess … I’m gonna say I’m corny here, but I do think that we can deliver great customer experiences and a great shareholder outcome as well, and I have to believe that analytics is the way to deliver great customer experiences because it’s the only way we can know our customers, so I’m inspired by that. I want to use our data, our knowledge and our smarts to improve how we talk, and how we provide experience to customers, because I reckon that means they’ll stay with us, they’ll deepen relationships with us and they’ll be happier.

Mark Jones:  Just lastly, if there’s one thing you could change about marketing, what would it be?

Patrick McQuaid:  I’m gonna answer purely from the perspective … I’ve only been inside the net marketing team. I would make us better at telling our story. So marketers, myself basically, be able to market internally but as good as you do externally.

Mark Jones:  I gotta say that is music to our ears given Filtered Media’s tagline is Telling Your Story Brilliantly. That’s kind of what we live and breathe, so I thank you for supporting our universal view of the world.

Nicole Manktelow:  We’re feeling very validated. Deeply validated.

Mark Jones: I know it’s just gold.

Mark Jones:  Check’s in the mail. Patrick McQuaid, it’s been our pleasure to have you on the podcast today. Thank you for your time and all the best on your data quest.

Nicole Manktelow:  And enjoy the rest of that transformation journey.

Patrick McQuaid:  Thank you very much. My pleasure.

Nicole Manktelow:  Thank you.

Nicole Manktelow:  Well funny enough, it’s a bank and they like the numbers. Who’d have thought it?

Mark Jones:  Who’d of thunk?

Nicole Manktelow:  So there you go. Making the data do the heavy lifting and in ways of maybe getting the data to instruct or inform the marketing teams. It’s driven. You’d actually use the analysts saying you might need to look over here rather than the messages coming back and saying find somewhere appropriate to put this message. I reckon that’s a pretty rocky road. That’s a difficult transformation to make in an organisation that size.

Mark Jones: It’s interesting to reflect on how complex this task is because you’ve got a number of ways they want to use the data. We were talking before about how that can feed creativity, but you’re also thinking how could I improve my relationships with customers? How can I present them with services that will improve their lives? We haven’t really touched on it, but AI?

Nicole Manktelow:  Oh yeah.

Mark Jones: What can other technologies bring into this conversation that’ll show us stuff that we haven’t thought about?

Nicole Manktelow:  I mean you can slice and dice data any way you like. You’ve got to figure out which bits that are actually important. What customers are doing is important and it’s the actions that they take that create the data that really tells you something useful about what’s working or what’s not what they’re interested in. This is not survey time. this is clicks and opens and things like that.

Nicole Manktelow:  The other thing I found interesting with Patrick is he was talking about how they were later in data from 12-15 years ago. Then I guess they just rested on their laurels. Whatever it is you do you get distracted by other things and so this transformation is actually pretty recent. It’s about two years, which is a pretty frantic pace if you’re going to upend everything and reconfigure it.

Mark Jones:  Yes, for a large organisation it’s moving quickly. How do they tell a great story, of course, to connect it back to the Filtered Media mission?

Nicole Manktelow:  I didn’t pay him to say that, by the way.

Mark Jones: Isn’t it nice when we find people who are on song? Good, well thank you once again for joining us on the CMO Show. We look forward to having you next time. Please do …

Nicole Manktelow:  It’s always a pleasure.

Mark Jones:  Yes, but please do share the show with other friends and colleagues and subscribe.

Nicole Manktelow:  Tell us what you want us to talk about.

Mark Jones: Until next time.

Mark Jones: This episode of The CMO Show is brought to you by Filtered Media.

Nicole Manktelow: Telling your story brilliantly.

Mark Jones: If you’ve got a question you’d like us to answer on the show, just tweet us @CMOShow or use the hashtag #TheCMOShow. We’d love to hear from you.

Mark Jones: The CMO Show is a podcast produced by Filtered Media and a quick shoutout to our incredible team Candice Witton, Charlotte Goodwin,

Nicole Manktelow: And our engineering wizards: Tom Henderson and Daniel Marr.

Mark Jones: You guys are the best!

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