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Alan Grogan, executive – data and AI, Avanade

Alan Grogan

Path to power

My career started on the Barclays graduate programme. My career advanced quickly under excellent executive guidance and hard work. Amid the early days of the financial crisis, I was asked by RBS to play a pivotal role in its turnaround. Given the uncertainties of the times, I was strongly advised against making the move, but my heart told me that I’d regret not at least trying to help. So, I left Barclays, and, over four years, I had a great time delivering a data and analytics transformation roadmap.

 

I left RBS to then gain experience in the start-up market and made a long planned move into consulting with Atos. My successes there led to an opportunity to join IBM Global Business Services as its UK and Ireland executive for data platforms, advanced analytics, industry 4.0 and IoT. Eventually I wanted a more diversified, stretching and global role so I joined Avanade in my current role. Leading an amazing business that is jointly owned by Microsoft and Accenture is a true privilege.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

I am the formal coach for some amazing data people. This ranges from leading heads of analytics to undergraduates from universities. It is extremely humbling and rewarding when anyone contacts me to be their performance coach. I highly recommend to anyone to do a professional certification in coaching or mentoring. You learn a lot about yourself. It’s hugely rewarding to see people improve their performance, surprise you (positively) in how they react and meet their goals and aspirations.

 

Who is your role model or the person you look to for inspiration?

It’s my young daughter. Regardless of whether, or not, she pursues any STEM subjects, she inspires me to make sure she is given the right nurturing. She also motivates me to make sure we try our best to leave the world in a better state than how we found it.

 

Did 2019 turn out the way you expected? If not, in what ways was it different?

No, it didn’t turn out the way I expected. I changed jobs at the end of the year fairly unexpectedly. The business I was leading was doing great and IBM is an amazing place, but I decided to move to pursue some personal and professional interests at this stage in my life.

 

What do you expect 2020 to be like for the data and analytics industry?

I expect it to not be too different to 2019 but with an ever-increasing maturing being displayed by organisations, where there is now a better balance between doing the shiny stuff (aka innovation) and the boring stuff (aka platform modernisation, centre of excellence set-up, etc). I expect to see more organisations begin to decouple data management and data platform administration to managed service providers, helping businesses focus more on innovation.

 

Data and technology are changing business, the economy and society – what do you see as the biggest opportunity emerging from this?

I hope to see more leading delivery from UK government institutions, departments and affiliates. Though great work has been done, I feel we are still scratching the surface and there is still huge wastage and lost opportunities. I’d love to see more government leadership and communication, where it starts leading by example and setting the pace and direction for meeting the prioritised social and environmental challenges and opportunities today.

 

What is the biggest tech challenge your clients face in ensuring data is at the heart of their digital transformation strategy?

Technically, I see the challenge of a poorly defined and slowly executed cloud strategy coming more prevalent. Data teams are left stranded without the right support or tools and data to power the transformation strategy and governance becomes a liability and not an asset as one result.

 

Non-technically, the biggest tech challenge I believe is the operating model. Some companies have rightly developed data strategies that include a refreshed operating model, some satisfy it through a CIO operating model review, and most don’t do much except restructuring in a way that builds silos and prevents benefit sharing.

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