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Farfetch CDO Kshitij Kumar: Data Availability has Never Been More Important

With data and analytics leaders transforming the way their businesses operate to meet the challenges of COVID-19, we caught up with Farfetch CDO Kshitij Kumar to get his take on what the future has in store

As a fashion retailer, Farfetch must have been affected by COVID-19. How has the pandemic affected the way Farfetch uses data and analytics?

The current pandemic has forced business and technology employees in most businesses to work remotely, which only makes the role of accurate and timely data availability more important.

Farfetchers have always used data and analytics extensively in their day-to-day work. What has changed is that instead of being able to discuss the outcomes of the data analysis in person, users and engineers are communicating using the latest comms technologies. This has sometimes made it faster and easier to access data.

As business stakeholders depend on this data, it is more important than ever that businesses ensure that the data available is high-quality. This includes recentness (timeliness), extra checks to ensure there are no incorrect assumptions about the quality and that data and analytics experts are available to support their business partners, even remotely.

How far would you agree that accelerating key data and digital transformation projects will help companies prepare for the ‘new normal’ that will emerge post-COVID-19?

Farfetch can be considered an industry leader in data. We are a fully cloud-based data organization, with cutting edge cloud technologies being used to collect, store and process data. We have also made data-driven tools and analytics available, along with top machine learning and AI techniques. This has helped Farfetch cope with a remote workforce who is hungry for data.

Companies unlike Farfetch, who may not have made the data and digital transformation, will now need to quickly become data-savvy and implement the processes, the tools and ‘ways of working changes’ that go with becoming a cloud-first data company.

We at Farfetch believe in supporting the data and analytics ecosystem, and we partner with academia and industry leaders to help our peers understand how to solve these problems and learn from our experiences.

Have you seen the role of the CDO change since the pandemic began? Have you adapted your leadership style because of the pandemic?

Farfetch had the foresight to strengthen our data leadership long before the pandemic happened. Having myself as CDO and a critical part of our executive team meant we had already been evolving our data strategy across the company when the pandemic struck. We have been in a position of being able to take advantage of our preparedness on the data side.

To what extent have you revisited your data and analytics strategy and reassessed your strategic priorities as a result of COVID-19?

We at Farfetch believe in continuously assessing our strategic priorities and adapting to our customer needs as well as changing dynamics in our target market.

We had created a strategic roadmap to enable self-service analytics with an anywhere, anytime deployment model and have been executing on it. We have continued to double down on our multi-cloud data strategy, staying flexible and using innovative data techniques to maximize benefits for our customers, boutiques and brand partners.

Farfetch continues to focus on artificial intelligence techniques combined with advanced analytics during these times. Our team has unique domain expertise in fashion which we combine with our sophisticated data platform to provide our customers the experience they are looking for.

What do you think will be your biggest challenges and opportunities as Farfetch starts to recover from the initial shock COVID-19 caused?

From a data technology perspective, the industry has to be ready to support analysts and engineers working remotely and with the flexibility to adapt.

We see an opportunity to help our boutique and brand partners as we provide our service in uncertain times and having a robust and high-quality data product is a key step in our response.

Kshitij Kumar spoke at Corinium’s 2020 Data and Analytics: Live EU virtual conference. Click here now to view the agenda and view the sessions on-demand when they are available.