Marks & Spencer is expanding its data academy to make training more accessible to all staff with the launch of a new entry-level Data Technician course, designed to teach employees how to manipulate and scrutinise data and then translate that into valuable insights.
The 18-month course will be open to everyone across the business, and once again be run with Decoded. However, places are limited, with the retailer offering just 70 staff a chance to join the programme in the first 12 months.
So far, more than 700 M&S employees have been given specialist data training with Decoded at the M&S data academy, first launched in 2018, while its Data Analyst Fellowship course has seen over 200 staff across the business – from stores to support centres – learn skills such as R, Python, SQL and machine learning.
The move is part of M&S chief executive Steve Rowe’s long-term aim of making data analysis “become the glue that sits above our business units and underpins the brand”.
Ultimately, the retailer wants to create a new raft of data skilled leaders and data scientists to spearhead digital transformation across the depth and breadth of its business.
Earlier this year, M&S revamped the Sparks loyalty programme, ditching the physical cards and relaunching it as a digital-only scheme, hosted through an updated M&S App.
The app, which attracted a million new customers within two months, followed the recruitment of former Tesco Clubcard director Danielle Papagapiou to the role of head of loyalty, with a brief to breathe new life into the scheme.
Revealing the new training programme, M&S chief digital and data officer Jeremy Pee said: “M&S has a rich data set – from Sparks to M&S.com to M&S Bank – and in order to thrive in a digital future, we need colleagues who can act upon this insight and put data at the heart of everything we do.
“With the relaunch of Sparks, the creation of our new data hub BEAM and the continued investment in colleague data literacy programmes, we are building the foundations to deliver a step-change in customer experience, and we’re already seeing the benefits a more data literate workforce can bring.
“This apprenticeship will give us a new platform to go even bigger and engage even more colleagues through the power of data and we’re really excited about the difference it will make.”
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