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Kinnari Ladha, chief data officer, IAG Loyalty

Kinnari Ladha, chief data officer, IAG Loyalty

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

 

At IAG Loyalty, we are a platform and technology company with data sitting at the heart of our business, enabling us to harness the power of intelligence and deliver outstanding results. Data is fundamental for us as it creates value across our loyalty business, optimising the core business and delivering future growth through new products and services.

 

Data strategy is one of the central pillars in our business strategy. For this reason, we are making significant investments in connecting platforms, implementing integrated architecture and streamlining data technologies to help unlock crucial information and turn insight into decisions. With a constantly evolving data eco-system, data governance is also a critical part of our data strategy.

 

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 one of the hardest years for the travel industry. Planned projects and budgets were cut almost immediately, recruitment was frozen, and one of the most difficult aspects was having to make tough decisions to reduce operating costs, including unfortunate job losses for many across the industry. With unpredictable travel restrictions enforced by all corners of the globe, the industry was forced to make swift decisions and take immediate actions to support our customer before going into hibernation. Despite best efforts, there was a significant impact on customer experience leading to negative customer sentiments.

 

However, new crisis management teams were mobilised in the immediate wake of the crisis and Covid-specific incident management plans developed. Cost reduction targets led to faster implementation of new agile operating models. Digital transformation took an aggressive hold of the business which drove quick, positive outcomes through streamlining processes, harnessing data and technology to shape entirely new ways of doing business and uniting every part of the enterprise with a common purpose.

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

 

I recently joined IAG Loyalty, so it goes without saying that the future growth of IAG Loyalty and how data will be used to drive and deliver this is at the forefront of my mind. As a loyalty business, data is our single biggest asset as it informs decisions we take at every level of the business. To reflect this, we have invested in a number of areas, including a modern analytics platform that will deliver AI and machine learning products and services to support growth and give customers even better and more tailored experiences.

 

To ensure that data is flowing through every level of the organisation we are developing new ways of working, including the implementation of an agile framework supporting continuous improvement and innovation across the business. Another significant investment is in our people supporting them both with new tools and skills as we continue to innovate and grow.

 

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

 

As the airline industry faces formidable challenges, at the same time, we as a loyalty business see an opportunity where we can play a critical role in helping to rebuild the industry. Data can enable airlines to have a stronger understanding of customer behaviour, track their preferences, and project future demands. By leveraging data to drive analytics, we can support airlines to develop their operations and marketing strategy, look at ways to manage the impact and develop dynamic strategies for recovery.

What has been your path to power?

 

I’ve been fortunate to have an exciting career path through the world of data and analytics. It’s not too surprising I selected this industry as I have always been bit of a numbers geek from an early age. Fresh out of university, I began my corporate journey as a hands-on practitioner coding in SAS and SQL. Over the course of the last 18-plus years, I have climbed the corporate ladder undertaking various senior leadership roles from managing analytics strategy to leading transformation and delivery across a vast range of industries globally, both as a consultant and on the client side.

 

Today, I am proud to be recognised as an industry leader, a CDO at IAG Loyalty which owns and manages Avios, one of the world’s leading travel rewards currencies. As a member of the senior management team, my responsibility is to lead and embed a data-driven strategy across the core products and services we offer for our global partners and customers.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

 

My proudest achievements are a blend of my personal growth and what I have been able to give back to this industry. I feel fortunate to have been recgonised in the DataIQ 100 2019 and 2020 editions and representing Women in Technology on the diversity board at TUI Group. My career has given me the opportunity to speak at schools to encourage the next generation and to be keynote speaker at numerous global industry events, sharing my knowledge and personal experiences to help others achieve their business ambitions.

 

2020 has had its ups and downs. Resilience, drive and determination have helped me turn it into a progressive year for my career and development. I am thrilled to be joining IAG Loyalty and excited to be working alongside an amazing team to continue the growth of the business and drive transformation through the delivery of digital and innovative solutions to our customers.

 

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

 

At IAG Loyalty, we have set an ambitious growth vision to offer a wide range of loyalty products and services to both our customers and partners, leveraging innovative data and digital capabilities. More importantly, we want to become faster, more productive and more responsive in the increasingly changing and uncertain world that exists today. Having already achieved a measure of success adopting agile practices within our digital team, IAG loyalty has now embarked on a journey to adopt agile ways of working across the wider organisation.

 

Introducing business agility into the organisation will be one of the main areas of focus for me. Change is hard and, as we start to introduce changes, I wanted to ensure people understand why we are making these changes. The resultant benefits will be seen as we transform the way we work. As we continue our journey, building an engaging, inclusive and diverse culture will be a key focus.

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

 

Successful data-driven organisations should define the role of data and analytics as part of the broader corporate strategy. Today, the power of data and analytics is profoundly altering the business landscape across nearly all industries, which is why now more than ever organisations need a data leader at C-suite level. A leader that drives an analytics strategy from the top will help develop organisational-wide priorities that unlock the potential of data really to drive business impact.

 

To help align the whole organisation, it is important that an integrated partnership model is established through multi-disciplinary teams where data and analytics support each business function as strategic decision-makers and not only as service providers. A set of fundamental practices should also be defined to support company-wide education and data literacy. These range from enabling faster access to data through self-serve dashboards, bridging the gap between business and data with translators, and engaging employees through data literacy training to ensure everyone knows how to read and use data to make business decisions.

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