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Top 100 Global Data and Analytics Leaders 2023, Maija Hovila, Chief Data and AI Strategist at Futurice

Maija Hovila, Chief Data and AI Strategist at Futurice shares the achievements that have shaped her last 12 months as a data and analytics leader, and what she predicts for 2024 

In this week’s featured interview with our Global Top 100 Innovators in Data and Analytics, we talk with Maija Hovila, Chief Data and AI Strategist at Futurice

Hovila took the reins at digital innovation and engineering company Futurice in October. Before that, she served as the Chief Analytics Officer and Global Head of Analytics at the Finnish engineering firm KONE.

In this extended interview from our Global Top 100 Innovators in Data and Analytics report, Hovilla expands on what it takes to be a successful data and analytics leader, the biggest challenges facing the industry today, and why concerns about the implementation of AI might lead to missed opportunities. 

C: What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing data and analytics leaders today? And how do you think they can be overcome?

MH: I see three main challenges: first is the rapid technological volatility, making it difficult to stay relevant. Second is the availability of the right talent, especially with the emergence of new languages and platforms. Third is data security, with increased threats from hackers and ransomware. 

To overcome these challenges, maintaining an emphasis on continuous learning, investing in training for new platforms, and prioritizing data security is essential.

C: In your experience, what does it take to be a successful leader in the data and analytics space? What characteristics or skills should aspiring data leaders focus on cultivating?

MH: More than ever there is an immense need to focus more on competency and soft skills versus technical skills. Abilities like innovation, adaptability to change, critical thinking, and becoming a trusted advisor to the business are key. 

Even if an analyst gets stuck on writing code, tools like ChatGPT can help troubleshoot rapidly. Being a successful data leader today is more about critical thinking, readiness to adapt, and acting as a trusted advisor.

C: What are you most passionate about when it comes to data and analytics? What do you think is too often overlooked or misunderstood?

MH: There are three aspects: First, I'm committed to learning something new every day and continue to research and learn about new aspects of the industry. 
Second, I'm passionate about mentoring and coaching aspiring talent in the data analytics ecosystem. I learn a lot from them as well because they bring a different, new mindset. 
And lastly, within the technical area, I'm very passionate about artificial intelligence. What worries me is the scrutiny and the nervousness related to AI about killing jobs, passing incorrect decisions, bias, privacy, and ethics. And while these elements are important to get right, of course, It's crucial to understand that humans made AI, and it’s within our power to ensure the outcomes of AI are what we desire.

C: What achievements are you most proud of in the past year?

MH: I will talk about our top three achievements while at KONE. First is the significant progress made in data science, where we designed industry-first data science solutions for the pharmaceutical sector, optimizing the drug discovery process and making marketing campaigns more effective. 

The second is in the data engineering space, where we initiated a project to modernize existing data platforms and tools, conducting an in-depth review of the existing data leak to optimize infrastructure. 

The third is on data governance, focusing on creating a single reusable data asset and looking at data access and security, ensuring encrypted and quality data.


Download the full Corinium Top 100 Global Innovators in Data and Analytics 2023 report, here