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Kevin Telford, Global Economic Observatory leader, Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence

Kevin Telford, Global Economic Observatory leader, Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence

How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?

 

The Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence vision is safely to unlock the value, values and potential of customer data to improve lives through data and analytics. Our purpose is delivered through data, analytics, enabling tech and capable colleagues, all driving value for citizens, organisations and governments for societal and economic benefit.

 

Our data science team, academic colleagues and partners align around our shared purpose, culture and ways of working that:

  • Defines why (our purpose) and is challenge-led;
  • Asks what - the data we need to overcome the big challenges;
  • Collaborates - harnessing the power of the collective to crack a problem with a use case.

Our collective team consists of the brightest and most creative minds to bring purposeful, data-driven innovation from beginning to end.

 

2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?

 

We put most of our plans for 2020 to one side. Instead, GOFCoE had an important data analytical role to play in responding to the crisis created by Covid-19. We had the safe haven data environment, the talent and the tools to make an impact from a project aimed at providing government bodies with data-driven insights on the impact of Covid-19.

 

What we needed was the support of small and large organisations to join us to help

them understand the financial impact in the UK and shape any policies or interventions by those government bodies in response, then to provide insights into the impact of any policies or interventions.

 

We launched a “Covid-19-Citizen” and “Covid-19-SME” insights project, the aim of which was to unlock the power of financial data in order to provide the UK government with insights into the impacts of the pandemic on the nation’s economy. With our data partners we created:

  • Data governance contracts for data supply;
  • Public sector information-sharing agreements (eg, with Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy, HM Treasury, Bank of England, Financial Conduct Authority);
  • Protection for individuals’ data in accordance with GDPR and their own position as a neutral third-party.

With full transparency, our data science team built a set of dashboards. First of all, they

employed synthetic data to show stakeholders how their data would be used to create economic insights and how the privacy and commercial sensitivity of the data would be thoroughly protected. We then took on-board live data from our first providers.

 

GOFCoE is now delivering a regular stream of insights to the UK government around

citizens’ and small business’s financial well-being.

Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?

 

Looking forward to 2021, GOFCoE is uniquely placed for pioneering data-based services to provide innovation, research and talent development through the benefits of data and our data intelligence team. GOFCoE was awarded £22.5 million by UKRI, part of a £55 million funding package to achieve its purpose and is the first flagship initiative from the £600 million Data Driven Innovation programme enabling projects, services and case studies.

 

The race is on in 2021 for deep exploration of economic and societal trends for the longitudinal study of how people spend, save and earn. The outputs from the data analytics team will drive a marketplace of innovation, research and technical standards by acquiring, storing and connecting data assets.

 

Our “one-stop shop” for data removes the friction of data acquisition, building bonds

between industry and academics, and is built on data trust and ethics.

 

Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?

 

With our core purpose to unlock the potential of customer financial transactional data as a force to improve lives, it is a global first that I helped build. Fusing the data analytics for value with values in a personal and business agenda for 2021 is a given for me. It is the same journey.

 

GOFCoE will work with industry, regulatory and academic partners, focusing on areas of the market that can only be really solved through collaboration around data for good and data science at the start and end.

What has been your path to power?

 

My path to purpose and power to do some good started with a belief in other people before myself. There was always a belief that one day, working to a purpose through data and clever people would happen. Never did I allow myself to know it would.

 

The time I am in now is down to the people that knew I would be happy in a purpose-driven business model. They always supported, challenged and inspired - and the doubters often spurred me on.

 

Colleagues, friends and family brought me to here. Along the way, data and creativity has been constant, from working with brands such as Heinz, Mercedes, Asda, big banks to start-ups, scale-ups, and a new venture in the making as co-founder - who would have known? The story of citizen data rights, data mobility, open banking, open life has been my constant for the last decade and a path to purpose for me.

 

Data-driven innovation is a practice in demand, the data storytellers are at the front, middle and back of products and services from design to delivery. My career beginning as a council worker digging holes to now filling holes with data sums up the path.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

 

Leading the design, build and delivery of the Global Economic Observatory (GEO) and creating social impact is the proudest achievement of my career to date. The most rewarding part is the social impact it will deliver with the impressive minds, capabilities and capacities the proposition has. It is big, audacious and with a vision that is inspiring.

 

Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?

 

Pursuing the GEO strategically with a purpose safely to unlock the potential of customer data to improve lives means there are always goals to deliver. We must keep pursuing tools that will continue to deliver social impact. Our/my list of pursuits is long for longitudinal value. We have to build some important foundations in 2021, some of which include:

  • Delivering a financial data sandpit of pseudonymised financial data contributed from multiple market verticals to help organisations more rapidly innovate in areas such as the intersection of health and wealth.
  • Building an algorithmic bias test laboratory for data practitioners to reduce discrimination, improve AI/ML compliance, and embed ethics in algorithmic distribution of products and services.

Our goals extend to the harmonisation of security standards for data sharing, digital identity, conformance testing and global interoperability across markets. So much to do…

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 are totally aligned within GOFCoE and at industry level. GEO is a data analytics computing facility hosting and continually adding a rich variety of data, including transactional data pertaining to individuals and organisations. It is designed and built to host large volumes of sensitive data through physical, technical and governance security measures. For example, italready hosts Scottish NHS data and others. This proposition is used by our data analytics team to unlock the value and values in the data for social impact.

 

Bringing the proposition closer to industry, GEO will make the data sets available directly or indirectly in a sand box within a strict and transparent data governance, privacy and ethical framework to a variety of actors, including academic researchers and potentially policy-makers, regulators, institutions and industry.

 

Use by industry is subject to transparent ethical, privacy impact assessments and access is only granted to appropriately trained and vetted individuals and industry-approved organisations for well-specified purposes following data minimisation principles. Industry projects are granted on alignment with GOFCoE’s ethical principles to safeguard individual privacy and to promote fairness, sustainability and evidence-based policy development. These purpose, practice and principles bring GEO and industry together.

 

What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?

 

Our vision, purpose, mission and values define our culture. Developing a data culture is a natural state of mind for all of our team. Our value proposition is designed, built and delivered on a culture using data and data analytics to unlock the value and values in data for good.

 

This clarity of purpose attracts, retains and develops talent, collaborating with aligned organisations and industry that are committed to social impact built on inclusivity, wellbeing, equality, sustainability and other values. It is what we do and how our culture is defined, with data driving the impact.

 

All said, we have to live the culture in every moment.

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