How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?
Well, given DAMA’s mission to promote data and information management best practices and policies while creating a community of data management practitioners, I think data and analytics are the actual corporate vision and purpose. However, I would say that as a non-profit global association, with representatives in over 50 countries and thousands of members, data drives DAMA forward and helps our members’ experience while also providing useful and easily accessible information to interested parties and communities.
2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?
I might swim against the tide, but recent circumstances only partially affected our initiatives and, in some cases, proved to be positive motivators and enablers. Of course, we missed our symposiums and global conference and all that absolutely fundamental networking and coming together. However, we improved the way we interacted, developed new etiquettes and became more efficient with our time and decision making process.
Looking outside the association life and more into the business side of things, having run niche advisory firms and multi-dimensional teams for over a decade, the greatest surprise of 2020 was to see small and medium advisory consultancies skyrocketed from a local and regional client-base to a worldwide reality. 2020 did not invent the home working, but it did broaden its scope, meaning home could be 50 or 5,000 miles away with no difference; most of us are now worldwide consultants, managers, students, or practitioners.
Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?
We have two key data and analytics drivers for 2021: the ethical capitalisation of the information asset and the deployment of data integration strategies during acquisitions.
Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?
It is with extreme pride that I can say “yes”. Launched in 2019 and ongoing in 2020 and 2021, DAMA and FIT Academy launched “Data High”, a programme to introduce data teaching into high schools everywhere in the world. The programme was originally designed by Dr Michele Valentini and presented at the World Summit of Information Society organised by ITU and the United Nations in support of the “provide quality education” and “create decent work and economic growth” sustainable development goals set up in the 2030 Agenda.
What has been your path to power?
I commenced in the project and programme management field, working on increasingly relevant roles in major infrastructure projects in Europe and in the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
During this latter experience, I became accountable for the big data analytics and demand forecast functions and fell in love with the data world intricacies and opportunities.
Since then, I joined the UK chapter of DAMA and trained to become a certified data management professional. I continue training myself and others and today I am an accredited DAMA International and EMD DCAM Trainer and Advisor, president of DAMA Italy Chapter and EMEA and MIT CDO Symposium co-chair. In addition, I run two consulting firms, one for each of my professional passions: ENNE Ltd, which specialises in project and programme management, and FIT, which focuses on training and consulting in data and information management.
What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?
Difficult to name one, but I would nominate three: playing my part in the London 2012 Olympic Games and being recognised by Lord Coe and the former Mayor of London for it; I also received the 2020 Data Association Management Award for Excellence; finally, I am proud to have founded my two consulting firms.
Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?
For the DAMA EMEA area that I oversee, the goal is to expand further into Africa and the Middle East as today we are present in 15 countries in the region but only in South Africa actively. To do so, we are actively engaging with other organisations, such as Women in Data and the International Institute of Data Management in Africa in order to ensure we can join forces to reach students, professional and future practitioners and learn from our different experiences.
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?
Looking at the DAMA framework, we define 11 knowledge areas that together form the data management discipline and analytics (or better business information and analytics) are one of those. So, from a DAMA perspective, one is part of the other.
Moving from a conceptual model to recent experiences, I think it has been more of “analytics and data” rather than the other way around as more and more businesses and executives are focusing on the data that underlines the analysis they receive.
It is fair to say, bad data has always been there to frustrate us all, but more recently the importance of qualitative data as a real information asset for the company and unique enabler for better strategic and operational business decisions is becoming standard practice and common knowledge.
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 keep hearing two answers to this question, which is top-down leadership engagement and vision versus bottom-up community of data stewards, champions or else. However, I strongly believe, the answer is multi-faceted, as you need everyone to do their part.
One of the things I ask during my training is “who is responsible for data quality” and I often hear that it is the chief data officer, the data management or governance team, IT, etc. But the answer should be “everybody” as each one of us is involved at some stage in generating, modifying, integrating, receiving, handling and interpreting data and are all responsible for its quality and more broadly ethical and conscious use.
So, to answer, I think data literacy is vital at every level of an organisation and can be provided by a variety of tools and methodology to reflect the culture of the company. It can be through joining professional communities, formal training, self-paced learning, mentoring or more likely a combination of all of those and more. One thing I would say for sure, however, is that culture is not free, and the right investments are required to fully benefit from it.