How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?
Data and analytics is at the heart of better meeting our customer’s needs. Whether it’s through customer and competitor research, understanding customer behavior, digital usage, data and analytics is crucial to business success. With digital innovation at the forefront, consumers expect to pick up their smartphones/tablets and have the ability to focus on "jobs to be done". They expect instant decisions, the instant ability to transact and the instant ability to complete what they need. Data is driving our every decision and our ability to provide a digitally rich experience that consumers want to engage with.
2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?
2020 was a year of rapid and new experiences for everyone (that’s me trying not to use the word unprecedented)! Data has been at the heart of every country across the world better understanding what was happening and is now at the heart of our recovery plan through widespread vaccinations.
Daily statistics have led Government efforts and focus, individuals have watched and read daily statistics throughout the world and businesses across the globe have needed to react and change operating models, adapting to survive.
We have been no different. The economy and society operate through the ability to pay, so Barclays has leveraged data to help merchants, individuals and colleagues with Covid-19 support measures and smart payment solutions. I’m proud that our data and analytics capability allowed us to react fast, adjust course as the virus impacts fluctuated through different lockdown approaches and key data solutions powered our response and approach to supporting our customers.
Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?
The pace at which we’re innovating as an industry across the entire lifecycle of data is awe-inspiring. We’re exponentially getting smarter about how we track, decode and interpret information. For the payments industry, data is the new battleground. Leveraging data and new technology in truly innovative ways allows us to develop unique and more personal relationships with our customers and clients – especially through these challenging times. For us, this is all about partnerships, by smartly delivering seamless and invisible payment solutions with our merchants and helping them succeed in business through the pandemic.
Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?
We are proud of our ground-breaking relationship with the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS). We have proven the power of payments data for public good through helping the ONS improve current statistics and even new metrics to support UK society through data-led Government policy decision-making.
Through fully-anonymised and indexed data sharing, there are many areas of collaboration underway, examples include:
Also, in conjunction with the ONS, we are contributing directly into the United Nations activity underway to modernise statistical legislation across member nations.
What has been your path to power?
I have been lucky enough to spend my entire 30-year career at Barclays, rising from the lowest entry level bank branch roles to now managing director. I have worked across so many businesses and functions, but data has always been at the heart of my ability to lead change and develop enhanced capabilities for the bank and our customers.
The best way to truly understand and appreciate the power of data is through experiencing and seeing with your own eyes the end-to-end processes, customer needs and vast opportunities that exist within any organisation or business to unleash. I have also had the incredible opportunity to work with data talent around the world (US, South Africa, India, the Middle East and Europe) with a three-year period living in Johannesburg delivering pan-African technology solutions, all powered by data.
I started my current role in March 2017, building and leading a new data and strategic analytics capability, internally branded DASA, for Barclays Payments. We’re the leading UK bank in payments processing and have access to a huge proportion of all UK payments received and made, across all channels. A dream role for anyone with a genuine passion for leveraging and innovating with data!
What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?
Three recent examples would be:
Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?
Inclusiveness and diversity. Sometimes data and data science can be seen as out of reach for some, with a very academic or elitist status. My wish is that data careers become mainstream, not a specialism for the few. Technology advancement provides the means, but today’s data industry needs to evolve by embracing and supporting young talent, providing opportunities that excite and inspire, but most importantly are open to all, regardless of background or academic prowess.
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?
Data and analytics as a core capability is recognised and reports directly to our Barclays Payments CEO. This has helped us become a truly data and customer/client-focused business. Daily dashboards of activity, trends and events drive immediate decisions and actions. Data and analytics has simply become integral to the way in which we do business. The financial services industry has needed to keep pace with consumer demands, becoming truly digital-focused, again with data and analytics at the heart of delivering and reacting to client needs.
Industry regulation and advancement of open banking has resulted in smart data flows and real-time integration between diverse and historically very separate financial solutions and services. This brings real opportunity for innovation across the industry and has helped fuel fintech and start-up ingenuity, again, with data and analytics built in at the core.
What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?
I’m a strong believer in continuing to focus on both bringing in young talent and developing our people in data and analytics skills and capability right across the franchise. The greater exposure and understanding individuals can gain of working directly with data scientists, data engineers, data artists and data product managers as part of product development, for example, the more data literate individuals become.
We run a successful internal DataFest campaign which showcases and encourages interactions and involvement from employees across all functions and departments. DataFest celebrates data innovation, data creativity and the art of the possible with data.