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Interview with Sam Stark, Head of Data & Analytics, Foxtel

To drive business strategy and move up the value chain, data and analytics must first deliver on the basics, argues Foxtel Head of Data and Analytics Sales and Marketing Sam Stark  

Data and analytics teams are empowering business decision-making with real-time data in a growing number of cutting-edge companies.

In this interview, Sam Stark, Head of Data and Analytics for Sales and Marketing at Foxtel, argues that automating efficient reporting processes provides more time for data and analytics experts to work on high-value tasks like implementing real-time data analysis.

“In many cases the reporting is strategic. Without that reporting the business doesn't have visibility on all the key metrics,” Stark says. “Automating that process frees up time to move on to perhaps more reporting and perhaps some bigger questions, but ultimately we want to get the basics right.”

Becoming a strategic partner in decision making

Oftentimes, data and analytics teams are seen as ‘order takers’ inside businesses. Stark’s advice is to prioritize effectively and communicate with stakeholders to create the time necessary for the data and analytics team to engage in more strategic work.

“In my experience, the marketers want me and my team to be doing more strategic work, and my team want to be doing more strategic work,” Stark says. “So, for us, it's been about really ensuring that together we're getting the right questions into our team and the work that we're putting back is of value.”

He adds: “Everybody wants that. It's just a matter of getting everybody aligned.”

Post-Pandemic Data and Analytics

The demand for real-time data and analytics insights are higher than ever, and this is likely to continue after the pandemic is over. But for Stark, the most exciting possibilities for the future of real-time data and analytics are in AI technology.

“The greatest excitement in my view is the application of AI, where we take some of that day-to-day, decision-making away from people, where we're making assumptions and so on, and put it in the hands of machines,” Stark says. “They can make that many transactions and pieces of analysis that quickly, that it really drives real-time decision making in a way that's just not possible for people.”

“[The] applications of [AI] are virtually endless,” he concludes. “Replacing a call center or customer service person with an AI solution that really looks like a person and feels and behaves like a person. I think that's really exciting.”

Key Takeaways

  • Automate reporting to work on high-value tasks. By automating key reporting responsibilities, the data and analytics team can focus on solving key business problems.
  • Communicate with the business about value. Moving away from being an ‘order taker’ requires a consensus on the best way for the data and analytics team to create value.
  • The future is all about AI. The possible applications of AI for business transformation are only limited by the imagination.