Much of my career is owed to a childhood spent playing too many video games. This apparent wasting of time, combined with just enough statistics to be dangerous, helped secure my first job at a software publisher, working with some amazingly creative people who redefined how people play games. Bringing a bit of science and focus to the creative direction, and a lot to sales forecasting, got me noticed by Disney where I helped launch its digital entertainment business across EMEA. Olivia Stretfield then single-handedly transformed my career and understanding of how to use data effectively. She recruited me into TalkTalk to implement a customer lifecycle management approach to optimising customer value, which introduced me both to the commercial realities of running a customer base and to several talented people that I’ve had the pleasure of continuing to work with thorough my career. A stint running Sky’s predictive model-building factory led me to Global Media where I have an enjoyably broad remit to use data in growing and monetising our audiences across radio, digital audio, video and festivals.
Turning around some of the lowest employee engagement scores ever recorded at one of my previous companies was only recently trumped by four floors in a lift trying to think of something to say to David Hasselhoff.
Always challenge the question you are being asked - it will often be the wrong question. Don’t throw away the notes from your “research methods” module at university - never underestimate the value of being an expert in experimental design.
Broadly, it did! AI and machine learning followed the hype cycle with alarming predictability.
Where data sits in the organisation will increasingly become an agenda item at board meetings, while data platform technology and tools will democratise how prediction and data-driven recommendations are made, moving from the preserve of statisticians and into more generalist problem-solvers. This will create a new set of challenges.
Working with organisations like the DMA and universities to find talent remains an important focus for us, as does continuous training across analytics and business skills. 2019 will see us relying more on agencies to access the data skills that we cannot recruit and retain, enabling us to focus on driving the application and subsequent value of data. To achieve this, we will be looking for people with experience of driving business change and programme management.
The public debate around data safety and ethics being translated into action, rewarding businesses that genuinely use people’s data to create better products and experiences.