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Interview with Louise Blake, Head of Data, Al Tayyar Group

Written by Craig Steward on Oct 11, 2018 11:59:48 AM

DataCon Egypt Insights Datacon Egypt

As a global leader in data analytics conferences Corinium is extremely pleased to be working with the Egyptian data analytics community on DataCon Egypt 2018 - which will take place in Cairo on 7 & 8 November.

Corinium’s data analytics events are designed to provide deep value to senior leaders and decision makers who are responsible for driving the strategic growth of data analytics within their organisations.

Our Managing Director for MEA, Craig Steward, spent time with one of DataCon Egypt’s esteemed speakers - Louise Blake, Head of Data, Al Tayyar Group (Online business Unit, Tajawal and Almosafe) - to get some insight into their data analytics strategy.


Louise, can you please tell us a little bit about Tajawal and Almosafer, and also about your role as Head of Data?

Al Tayyar is the largest travel agency in the middle east, travel services such as flights, hotels, packages and car rental. I joined the company in 2016, responsible for growing the data function within the online business unit “Tajawal’. The website and apps had just launched so we needed to devise a data strategy in line with the growth trajectory of the company. My role involved defining the remit, identifying the data needs, defining the roadmap and selecting the right people. The data team has grown significantly covering data engineering, self-service analytics tools, advanced analytics and data science.

 

One of the big areas you’re focused on is the development of a data strategy for Tajawal. How have you gone about this and what tips can you share? As we know this is not something many companies have started or been successful at.

One of the key factors in developing a data strategy is to ensure it is integral with the business from day one. As you rightly point out, more data projects fail then succeed – I have been fortunate enough to work on many projects and for me it’s about involving the business from day one. End user sign off should not be the last step in releasing a new tool or dashboard; buy in from the beginning and continuous collaborative working is the only way to ensure what you are building is fit for purpose and providing a critical service rather then ‘nice to have add on’to the many other tools and services the business must navigate through.

Extra Tip: Start delivering from day one, even whilst you are working on your infrastructure, a little insight goes a long way! Even if its producing proof of concepts or manual ad hoc analytics. Showing the value of the work early on ensures senior leadership support.

 

DataCon Egypt has the theme of “Rise of the Data Driven Enterprise.” Would you say that Tajawal is a data driven enterprise and what does this mean in your environment?

For sure, everything we do from selecting new product features, our pricing and how we spend every cent of our marketing spend is driven by data and measurement. I’m not saying that measurement is a new concept, just that it’s no longer an afterthought or an after the fact performance review. Data at the planning stage is part of our fundamental core.

 

What are your thoughts on the role of the Chief Data Officer? Why doesn’t Tajawal have and does the role have a future in the company?

I joined Tajawal in its startup phase, we were building to scale – Head of data plays the same role as some would refer to as a chief data officer – we are not precious about titles but more the impact of the role. A wise man (Tajawal’s legendary Muhammad Chbib) often says that everyone should be the CEO of their own work, I second that and say you could also easily swap CEO with CDO. I think the ultimate role of a CDO is to focus on ingraining data into the company culture, so they are no longer required. Have I just talked myself out of a job?

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