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Andy Rowe, Head of marketing sciences, Code

Path to power

 

My big breakthrough came in 2009 playing an integral role in the set-up of the Costa Coffee loyalty scheme. I helped design the database eco-system, built the communication segmentations and ran the eCRM program (from an agency perspective). This led to me gaining great knowledge of the application of data as well as huge credibility as I was lucky enough to win ten golds across different awards for excellence and innovation. The work we did was ahead of its time (not that we realised it then), but from working with multiple brands since, it’s clear we were trend-setting for the industry. I then went on to help The Guardian become a customer-first organisation, creating its first horizontal CRM team internally and helping it to become data-driven. This led to a further 12 awards, helping to prove our approach to be one that was ground-breaking and again industry-admired. I ran data strategy at MRM McCann for many years and am now running marketing sciences at Rapp UK and Code Worldwide. I sit on the customer engagement council at the DMA and enjoy speaking at industry events to spread my passion and vision for the future application of data.

 

What has been the highlight of your career in the industry to date?

 

It would definitely be transforming The Guardian into a customer-first organisation. We can create the greatest data eco-systems in the world and build the best machine learning models, but unless companies have the right data-driven vision and the people, processes and technology to deliver that vision, then it’s all worthless. Learning how to implement organisational change is one of the biggest assets I have and ensures that the clients I work with actually implement their business transformational visions, rather than see them wither away like so many do because they don’t have the right backing.

 

If you could give your younger self some advice about how to progress in this industry, what would it be?

 

Dream big. Now is the most exciting time I can remember to be in the data world. The best thing about what we do is that we get to originate, create and set new paths. So dream big, imagine the art of the possible and create, don’t follow.Three areas where adoption has been faster than expected: Becoming data-driven - more organisations have shown their desire to be this way; The citizen data scientist - this is closer to realisation as evidenced by the number of code-free platforms and the increase in APIs that can take advantage of pre-trained deep learning algorithms; Marketing technologists working hand-in-hand with data scientists - often this is over-looked, but it’s crucial to ensuring the data and tech environments created for data scientists are fit-for-purpose for speedy analytics, as well as for the end goal of the models being created.

 

What do you expect 2019 to be like for the industry?

 

Ethics and legislation around the use of artificial intelligence will rise to the fore. Leading practitioners in AI and its evolution are campaigning for more governance. The black-box nature of machine learning means we don’t always know what is going on within them. We must ensure humanity maintains some level of control, especially when self-autonomous weapons are on the horizon. With the rise of fake-news, Cambridge Analytica, an increasing number of hackers means that the power of data is being used for harm versus good and this is an area we all need to take responsibility to police.

 

Talent and skills are always a challenge to find - how are you tackling this in your organisation?

 

We have a constant opening for data practitioners, ensuring that whenever there is a good CV in the market, we see it. We have ties to various universities/industry body courses that we sponsor, speak at, create internships/placements for in order to ensure we are recruiting the best rising stars. That’s how we fill our funnel - to make sure we get chosen, we reinforce how learning is part of our day-to-day. We free-up Friday afternoons for learning and evolution for the team as, unless we keep challenging ourselves, we will fall behind and this has proven very attractive.

 

What aspect of data, analytics or their use are you most optimistic about and why?

 

That more and more models will see the light of day and that they will get smarter and smarter. Processing power is just going to get faster and faster and more and more affordable, meaning that we can continue to create the unimaginable!Agency

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