How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?
At BMJ, the data function acts an enabler for our strategic aims and especially digital transformation, where we need to leverage our expertise across technology, content and data.
2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?
Like most UK-based organisations, we were disrupted by the move to remote working in March 2020. Most of our data and analytics platforms are cloud-based, so we were able to return to normal service relatively quickly which meant we were able to support BMJ’s wider response to the pandemic.
Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?
My expectations in 2021 for data and analytics within BMJ are that we will be able to use our skills, expertise and technologies to generate revenue, deliver efficiencies, and to enable better decision-making by transforming data into information.
What has been your path to power?
After a brief flirtation with a career in computer games testing in the late 1990s, I’ve worked in a number of data roles, starting as a database executive for a market research company and then for an engineering company, Buhler Sortex, in East London.
I moved from client to agency side to work for Broadsystem, a marketing services and database agency, where I first got to work with single customer views. In 2007, I joined Oxford University Press, specialising in developing SCVs to support the delivery of marketing strategies.
In 2012, I joined BMJ, a global healthcare knowledge provider, where we started to build a team of data specialists. Currently, I’m head of data and analysis with responsibility for BMJ’s data strategy, which aims to deliver value from our customer and user data.
What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?
It has been really gratifying to see the evolution of BMJ’s data function, but I’ve taken most pride in seeing the positive impact on the business from the work my amazing data colleagues have delivered.
How closely aligned to the business are data and analytics both within your own organisation and at an industry level? What helps to bring the two closer together?
Business and data are already well aligned, and I expect this alignment to progress in future as data has been recognised as a cornerstone of BMJ’s digital transformation. I think what helps to bring the business and data together from the data side is having an excellent understanding of the business’s strategic priorities and identifying how we can enable our colleagues’ success by developing data-driven processes and outputs to generate revenue, save time and make better decisions.
What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?
Changing and developing culture within organisations is famously difficult. I think there is a widespread recognition that an effective data culture can have a positive impact on a business. The challenge is in being able to sustain the effort it takes to nurture it.
Longer-term changes such as developing and recruiting staff with the right levels of data and digital skills need to be committed to. In the short-term, data functions need to champion and enable data-driven decision-making. To me, this means ensuring that the fundamentals are in place to build trust and then taking the time to develop ongoing relationships across the business so that their needs are understood and met.