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Start with the Problem, not the Technology

Corinium’s Vanessa Jalleh had the opportunity to speak to Clinton McGregor, Head of Business Performance and Optimisation at Australian Retirement Trust ahead of CDAO Brisbane 2023

When organisations are faced with the exciting prospect of a data-driven transformation, it is easy to be swept away by visions and ideas, especially given the immense analytics power and overwhelming solutions that current, competing technologies have to offer.

It’s a common challenge that organisations can face early on in their data journey, one which Australian Retirement Trust Head of Business Performance and Optimisation Clinton McGregor says requires a considered, targeted approach.

McGregor’s advice is to not lose sight of the main objective, which is to ensure that what is being built will have an impact on an important business outcome.

“I believe if we are clear about what the key performance metrics are and the underlying drivers of those then we can design very targeted interventions that influence the right processes or decisions within an organisation to make a clear impact which builds confidence in the D&A team to continue to pursue other opportunities,” McGregor says.


As the conversation turned towards the current limitations of analytics in solving modern challenges, McGregor continues to emphasise that we need to be clear about the problem that needs solving, and then design the best solution that solves that problem.

“There are lots of technologies that are looking for problems to solve, so it’s important to start with the problem then pick the right technology, not the other way around,” he says.

The silver lining is as more data and analytics become embedded in organisations, there will be greater understanding within organisations of how this capability can be used to improve performance. 

“If the D&A teams are unambiguously solving problems by improving decision-making or improving business processes then there will be more confidence in investing in the teams and technology to continue supporting more of the business,” McGregor says.

AI & ML’s Impact

When asked to share his insights into interesting developments in data and analytics, McGregor brought up the increasing influence AI and ML is having on business and cautioned that while certainly valuable, it needs to be approached carefully.

“There is a lot of hype around AI and ML and while I think we need to be careful where it is applied, there are without doubt many interesting and useful applications of this technology. I am particularly interested in how AI can be used to augment human decision-making,” he says.

“For example, on a rainy morning recently my map app told me it was going to be a 40-minute drive to work, 10 to 15 minutes longer than usual! After driving a few minutes, it suggested a very convoluted route through suburban backroads that saved me 10 minutes. There is no way I could have discovered this route on my own, but as a result the trip was barely any longer than I would usually expect. I think this paradigm can be applied to many human decision-making scenarios. It’s up to D&A leaders to be thinking about the decisions that are made every day in our organisations and how they could be improved with AI support.”

When asked about what he is looking forward to at CDAO Brisbane, McGregor says the networking and engagement that comes with events is something he has missed throughout the pandemic.

“Not sure if I can still blame COVID, but I am feeling very disconnected from the D&A community in Queensland at the moment. So, I’m looking forward to the conference to hear about what others are doing and connecting with other professionals in the field,” he says.


Clinton McGregor will be speaking at CDAO Brisbane 2023. Check out the agenda and register to attend by clicking here!