How Shell Drives a Global Business with Innovative Insights Infrastructure
Image Copyright: Shell International Ltd.
Shell, a global energy company with a rich 190-year history, has a presence in nearly every part of the world. From humble beginnings in a London antiques shop and seashells import to its current status as #21 on the Forbes Global 2000 list, Shell has journeyed through almost two centuries of continuous innovation.
Shell’s insights team is one of the groups at the heart of this innovation. Krzysztof Sadowski, Insight Platforms & Tools Lead at Shell, says, “Shell is a huge and complex business. The mission of our Insights team is to bolster business performance by understanding our customers on a global scale.”
The Insights Conundrum: “We Need Smart Solutions to Free Up Time”
Like many Insights teams, Krzysztof and his team felt increasing pressure to share valuable consumer insights faster, more freely, and with more clarity across the organization. "Our Insights team is highly skilled but small,” Krzysztof continues, “We support hundreds of stakeholders across over 60 markets. We are always looking for smart solutions to free up time and focus on big themes. Our team is often stretched, so we are always seeking automations and technology to help us do our work better. We can’t afford to get stuck on the small things and lose our focus on the bigger strategic projects.”
When Knowledge Management Becomes Unmanageable
It was with these goals in mind — to more efficiently deliver insights across the organization — that Shell’s first knowledge management platform, called Heartbeat, was built in 2016. “The first iteration of Heartbeat was a big step change for the organization,” explains Krzysztof. “Shell went away from the silos where knowledge was sitting on hard drives, Sharepoints, or individual’s computers. At that time, the team made a decision to be more progressive and give more information to more teams.”
By the time Krzysztof joined Shell in 2021, Heartbeat was beginning to show its age. “When I came in, we saw a lot of unused potential of the old platform,” he says. “Logging in was easy, but finding the right information was difficult. And managing the platform was a considerable amount of work. That’s when we started to look at what else was in the market,” says Krzysztof. “And that’s when we found Stravito.”
Finding Stravito: A Clear Vision for the Future of Insights
“Stravito had a clear long-term roadmap and vision. They knew what they wanted to do next, and that was something that we really appreciated…as well as the actual product, of course”, adds Krzysztof. “It was clear that Stravito had researched the needs and pain points of its customers well. We were captivated by the ease of use of the platform, a better user experience, a simpler way to add reports and create pages, as well as the clear and simple management of the platform.”
Shell gained even more confidence by learning about Stravito’s clear process for migrating information from the old platform. Customer referrals from top brands aided the decision-making process, as well, and Shell decided to embark on a partnership with Stravito.
Once the partnership began, Krzysztof and his team were pleased to see Stravito’s pledges about the future come into fruition. “All the onboarding support was really great”, he says. “Starting with Stravito really felt like a solid partnership”.
A Revived Heartbeat: One Year In
12 months after its go-live date, the new Heartbeat platform, powered by Stravito, is a resounding success.
“We were able to carry over the good things that we’d worked on in the past,” says Krzysztof. “It’s now a continuation and better version of Heartbeat — that’s how we’ve framed it to the organization. We now have a better information hierarchy. All of the reports from primary research are easily accessible, as well as integrations with external sources.”
The team at Shell is also making great use of Stravito’s Collections feature to group different topics together for each different business that they operate. Collections on a wide variety of topics — from motor oils to fuel stations, from EV charging to coffee and snacks, from chemicals to hydrogen — can be easily shared with the appropriate teams, and the information is kept organized and accessible.
“It really works well to organize our information in this way,” says Krzysztof. “In the first year after the platform launched, we nearly tripled our active users base and the total visits to Heartbeat.”
The Heart of the Matter: Achieving Better Business Outcomes with Better Insights Infrastructure
Beyond increased accessibility and better organization, the revamped Heartbeat has been essential to how Shell’s Insights team is able to achieve their purpose.
“Our Insights team's purpose is to drive business performance based on world-class customer understanding,” Krzysztof says.
“Heartbeat powered by Stravito helps us do just that. We are now able to integrate all our external and internal sources into one place. The platform allows us to democratize insights and empower our marketers. Overall, we’re able to help everyone in the business make better decisions based on customer knowledge — whether the Insights team is in the room or not. We have more time to focus on the big, important things — like helping our stakeholders discover new commercial opportunities — and leave the small things behind.”
Looking Ahead: A Bright Future for Insights at Shell
The current success of Heartbeat is just the beginning; the team at Shell is looking forward to getting even more out of the platform as the technology behind it continues to evolve. James Johnstone, Global Head of Downstream Insights at Shell explains:
“Shell chose Stravito as our insight management partner in 2022 based on the easy user experience to upload, search, compile and share knowledge. The platform has been key to democratizing information, reducing duplication of research cost but also to amplify customer centricity in our organization which in turn amplifies the role of the insight function. It allows users to self-serve, freeing up the insights team to focus on high value projects. The integration of 3rd party subscriptions creates a single door way to our customer knowledge and speeds up access to critical information. The investments in large language AI capabilities is now taking us to the next level of personalized customer knowledge.”
Krzysztof also has high expectations for the future of Heartbeat, concluding:
“Thinking about the future, we have high expectations for Stravito’s new generative AI capabilities, as they will significantly enhance our ability to quickly extract answers to our stakeholders’ business questions, improving efficiency and decision-making processes. We also look forward to more meaningful integrations with external market intelligence platforms. Finally, it is important for the tool to support us in maintaining high engagement levels among insights creators, as well as our stakeholders who use Heartbeat.”
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