How the role of the CDAO is changing, data culture is spreading and organisations are scaling data-driven capabilities dominated the agenda at this year’s conference
Corinium’s 2020 Chief Data & Analytics Officers UK conference revealed how CDAOs, data teams and organisations are evolving to scale data capabilities and drive ROI more efficiently.
More than 250 data and analytics leaders descended on London’s Park Plaza Victoria hotel on Tuesday and Wednesday this week for a packed agenda of seminars, panel conversations and discussion groups.
“One of the most crucial things that we as CDAOs need to do, from my point of view, is build a high value data product portfolio,” said Volkswagen Head of Data, Analytics and AI Dr Alexander Borek. “We all have to scale across the organisation. Otherwise, you’re irrelevant.”
“If it’s not changing the way our business runs, by changing processes or by changing how people make decisions, it’s not worth much” – Dr Alexander Borek, Head of Data, Analytics and AI, Volkswagen
Organisations across the globe still struggle to maximise the value of their data assets. But this conference highlighted many of the UK and Europe’s biggest success stories from the past 12 months.
The CDAO Role is Changing
As an organisation moves down the path to data maturity, its data team’s focus often pivots away from data governance and towards driving ROI with advanced capabilities. As European data leaders make this transition, they are finding themselves under increasing pressure to show ROI and champion their successes.
“Celebrating success is really important,” said Kinnari Ladha, Global Head of Data Science, Analytics and BI at travel company Tui Group. “When your teams create valuable insights, dashboards or fancy data science models, you need to make sure that they're recognised.”
At the same time, the responsibilities a data leader holds are starting to shift. Some CDOs are becoming CDAOs, while other organisations are hiring separate Chief Analytics Officers.
“We are a step ahead in terms of how we think about this role,” said Cristina Diofebbo, Senior Director, Strategic Insight and Analytics at Sky UK. “We created an area of data with a Chief Data Officer, an area of advanced analytics and then an area of strategic analytics and insights.”
“Increasingly, you need to have some degree of technical background,” added Rick Hawkins, CDO, Global Risk and Finance at HSBC. “A number of things that you have to deal with are really complicated, technical issues.”
Data Culture is on the Rise
This year’s speakers frequently cited aligning data projects with business goals as the key to spreading data culture within their organisations.
Demand for data products is on the rise, with early successes having proven the potential of data to transform many organisations. The trust these ‘quick wins’ have generated is now translating into buy-in for more advanced capabilities.
“I’ve actually hit a point where the demand on data exceeds the resource that we have to spare,” said Nirali Patel, CDAO at medical insurance provider Axa PPP Healthcare. “We, as an organisation, have truly recognised, nearly all the way through the levels, that data is integral.”
Guests networking at CDAO UK 2020
As Gaia Marcus, Head of Data Strategy at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pointed out, the government is working to nurture this kind of data culture on a national scale. She used her presentation to raise awareness of the work her department is doing to develop the National Data Strategy.
“The overall aim is to build a world-leading data economy, understanding how to unleash the power of data across government and the wider economy, while building citizen trust,” she said.
“The roadmap for government's use of data is pretty clear,” she continued. “My question for today is, ‘What would you see the government’s role being in thinking about discoverability, standardisation, sharing and capabilities in the wider economy?’”
Scaling Capabilities is a Top Priority
Developing capabilities that scale across an entire organisation is essential if CDAOs are to deliver the ROI that’s expected of them.
As driving ROI becomes a more integral part of data leadership roles in the UK, CDAOs are increasingly concerned with expanding successful pilot projects to drive business transformations.
“For me, scaling is applying a solution to as many value creation points as possible,” said Dr Ahmed Khamassi, VP Data Science at energy company Equinor. “So, we need to approach a problem in a way where we say, ‘Can we build a solution so that the next application costs us next to nothing?’”
“It has to be a team sport,” added Matthew Fryer, VP and Chief Data Science Officer at travel company Expedia. “It’s data, platforms, use cases and people, and also your best practices, all coming together.”
Establishing processes to ensure the right projects are selected for pilots and that successful pilots can be replicated across the organisation is foundational to the success of any enterprise’s data strategy.
This year’s conference speakers widely agreed that partly-productionised initiatives can’t deliver ROI reliably or efficiently. Establishing these processes will be a key responsibility for all the region’s data leaders as Europe enters a new stage of the data journey.