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Access Advisory Board - Graeme

Graeme McDermott

Chief Data Officer, Addison Lee

Professional Bio

Graeme left University with a degree in a bizarre subject called Actuarial Science and entered the dark world of very grey people who worked every hour god sent and did numbers for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Graeme got into writing algorithms behind Insurance company systems to automate manual calculations.

After 7 years of trying to finish the intolerable exams he gave up and found he could make a good living working with data. In 1999 Graeme headed to the AA and spent 17 years designing and building product data warehouses and SCV’s, leading the internal exploitation teams and generally becoming the data guru, or Data & Insight Director. After 5 changes of AA ownership and many data strategies Graeme decided to leave for the role of Chief Data Officer at Addison Lee and modernize their data and analytics estate. The last few years has seen Graeme write forewords for books, sit on panels and present at conferences (“My life in data” is popular), advise new comers to data how to short cut progression and complete many trade interviews.

Last Corinium Access Event Attended: Augmented Intelligence Roundtable

What were your reasons for signing up to the Roundtable?

I signed up to my first Corinium roundtable for 2 reasons. Augmented Intelligence seems more within the grasp of many companies than general AI (many are already doing narrow AI) and I wanted to hear what others were doing in this space with an external expert in the room. Plus I was attracted by the variety of attendees 95% of whom I’d never seen or heard of from other data events and data social circles

Main take away’ s for you, from the evening?

What word you put in front of “Intelligence” is only as good as the data you put into the machine. We had a balanced discussion around the sexy outputs of Augmented Intelligence whilst remaining grounded on the need for good quality data practices.

 After having participated in one, what are your thoughts about the Roundtable Format?

Firstly it was a perfectly square table, which is actually pretty conducive to great conversations, in a great central location. I also met so many new and interesting people who were at various stages of trying to use Augmented Intelligence. I’m sure there was Intelligence applied to the attendees to ensure we get the right balance of industries, experience and contribution in the room.

Would you encourage your peers to attend these types of events, and why?

After the roundtable I connected to quite a few of my new data friends to continue other conversations. I think people worry they have nothing to say or are not an expert in the subject, but the events are about learning, meeting new people, sparking imagination and I’m sure you will find a contribution.

Thought Leader Contribution

What are the biggest challenges at the moment that you’re experiencing in your role?

Data Literacy and democratization…like the chicken and the egg, which comes first. I think we ventured down democratization thinking everyone was as data literate as us and the super users we usually interact with. Guess what that’s not true.

How are you currently working through those challenges?

My approach has been to identify advocates in the different functions who will adopt the democratization and be our mouth piece whilst helping those around. The company switch to office365 products has been a god send as it has allowed us to share data, information, insight more easily and consistently. The adoption of PowerBI for visualizations and dashboards (not the same in my world) has improved the democratization and literacy. We’re also recruiting with an eye on not just technical skills but softer skills to tell a story with data an communicate to a non-data audience.

What are the biggest barriers to working through those challenges?

You can create a lake of information, bring the horse to water, demonstrate how to drink and then you need to leave it to drink on its own. It you just leave it forever it may dehydrate, so you have to keep going back to check on the horse. Its not just about who is using our dashboards, but who is not and why.