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How Professional Apprenticeships Enabled WGSN to Upskill Employees in Data and Drive Revenue

By Team Multiverse

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Today’s companies are working with more data than ever. Yet even the most customer-centric organisations don’t always have a plan in place for creating a high-performance data culture. To drive internal efficiencies, deliver on client needs and increase revenue opportunities, data-driven organisations like WGSN are harnessing the power of professional apprenticeships to arm employees with all the right skills.

As the world’s leading consumer trend forecaster, WGSN has over 20 years’ experience in forecasting, data analytics and expert advisory across the fashion, beauty, consumer tech, food & drink and interiors industries. This trailblazing organisation specialises in helping brands around the world create the right products at the right time for tomorrow’s consumer.

As you can imagine, data is at the heart of everything they do.

The company’s signature data sources, referred to as ‘The Five Ss’ consists of show data (the team’s been tracking catwalk trends for over a decade), social data (crunching over 250,000 posts per month), search (including five years of search history), shelf data (encompassing all the key retail performance data), and sentiment (via ongoing quant surveys and focus groups).

But even with a process as thorough as this one, the team’s analyses are only as good as the data that goes into them. That’s where partnering with the right internal subject matter experts is crucial.

To reduce the pressure coming into the company’s central data teams, while continuing to drive innovation across the organisation, the data analytics leaders at WGSN are driving forward a business wide data initiative. This initiative places a focus on data acceleration to support colleagues in varied departments to gain confidence in data skills and usage. A goal that they would soon find out, would help drive both productivity and revenue.

Solution solving for data skills company-wide

WGSN has over 250 in-house industry experts, data scientists and advisory consultants. With this large of an organization, serving clients in over 120 countries, the data team at WGSN was receiving regular requests for data support from colleagues in different global departments.

Ryan Keane, WGSN’s VP of Data Analytics, is driving forward a company-wide data acceleration program. “At WGSN I have two important roles; one is to lead the data science and analytics team - the other is to elevate the data analytics capability of the organisation overall,” he says.

Evolving data capabilities organisation-wide meant that teams in departments from content to client advisory could better utilise data to serve WGSN’s clients and partners.

“By upskilling individuals to become data efficient in their varied roles and functions, meant that they could move the business forward and deliver products and services without dependency on the data analytics and science team. That’s where apprenticeships come into play.”

With an increased focus on expanding their quantitative data capabilities to match their qualitative capabilities and accelerate the process, the team at WGSN knew they’d need a forward-thinking apprenticeships partner to help bring their vision to life.

Building the company’s future data scientists

That’s when WGSN found Multiverse.

Once inside the program, apprentices and employees have the option of participating in one of two apprenticeship paths: Data Literacy or the Data Fellowship.

Multiverse’s Data Literacy apprenticeship helps establish a firm foundation in data analysis. Participants learn how to translate data into insights, build data-driven narratives, and present key findings.

The Data Fellowship apprenticeship is a slightly more advanced curriculum that builds upon the Data Literacy program. Through the Data Fellowship, apprentices acquire the skills needed to analyse, model and tell compelling data stories.

“We sit in a really exciting place,” explains Rachelle Rhinehart, Strategic Account Director at WGSN. Charged with forging meaningful client partnerships and trend collaborations, she’s witnessed the value of organisation-wide data literacy firsthand and even managed to use her new skills to take an existing client deal and double its value - all down to the addition of data capabilities.

“We work with the most innovative brands and retailers across the globe. As they’re having a stronger lens on data, this has really pushed us to think about how to best align. Today, we’re aligning data dynamically on every level and aspect of what we do — how we bring that forward, and how we connect and collaborate, is really core to the team that I’m a part of as we think about our clients.”

As a participant in the data acceleration program herself, Rachelle knows just how valuable strong data skills can be. And she’s not the only one.

“In addition to the training program to upskill existing employees, we’ve also partnered with Multiverse to identify and bring in apprentices straight out of school,” explains Ryan.

By offering both beginner level and advanced programs, WGSN made data skills accessible for employees across the organisation, regardless of their individual starting point.

And it didn’t take long before the value of the data acceleration program started to speak for itself.

Empowering meaningful ways of collaborating with clients

So far, WGSN has produced positive results from the Multiverse data acceleration program.

“Having a stronger lens on data is really empowering our account management team to drive more meaningful ways of collaborating with our clients,” says Rachelle.

Since the start of the data acceleration program, the WGSN partnerships team has been able to:

  • Create new data-led reports that are now some of the most popular among clients
  • Bring forward key pieces of research partners might not be utilising
  • Unlock new paths of collaboration with different teams and departments
  • Understand partners’ evolving needs to bring forward products that support their top priorities

Armed with the right data and reports, Rachelle and the account management team were able to deliver strategic value to their partners, including one key client who was seeking deeper insights on seasonal trends.

“This conversation and this data really helped us bring that missing piece of the puzzle into our partnership and grow that investment 56% year-over-year as we were activating different parts of what we do to better serve their needs,” Rachelle explains.

Ryan has also witnessed the tangible benefits of the apprenticeship program on key growth targets.

“In terms of retaining clients, identifying and taking advantage of upsell opportunities, the data acceleration program has had a direct impact,” he explains.

“A lot of businesses didn’t realise just how much data and analytics WGSN had available to support their project goals. Once they saw how embedded data was in our forecasting process, it helped us win new business.”

And yet, increased revenue wasn’t the only benefit of the team’s data acceleration program. The team at WGSN also witnessed a deeply human value-driver, both in their existing employees and incoming apprentices.

“Up until May, I was a client service admin. From May onwards, I began my new role as a business intelligence developer at WGSN ,” says Justin Haughbro. “Everything that happened at WGSN in terms of my career path matched up perfectly with the Multiverse course. Enhancing my data skills helped me to move my career ahead.”

For the team at WGSN, this is only the beginning. As the organisation continues to focus their efforts on driving innovation, reducing time per task and increasing revenue through the power of professional apprenticeships, greater efficiencies are sure to follow.

Whether you’re seeking to recruit data literate talent or upskill existing employees, apprenticeships work to deliver the skills you need for a healthy and profitable future. At Multiverse, our team works closely with data leaders to help build the data capabilities that drive innovation forward.

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