My career began 25 years ago as an analyst in a marketing department, where data about customer behaviour was used to tailor marketing messages and this gave me a real thirst to turn data into actionable insights. While working for a large mobile phone operator, I decided to study for a master’s in applied statistics which, with the large data-sets available, allowed me to build many segmentations and prediction models.
This is where I first experienced the power that good insights can bring to effective decision making. I took this enthusiasm for data with me into my senior management roles, where my focus moved from customer strategy and CRM to enabling the whole business through business intelligence and data warehousing.
I was focused on building strategies and approaches which delivered holistic data ecosystems that could support timely insights on an architecture of modern, flexible technologies.
During my time at ASOS, a key focus for me was the importance of bringing the right people together to provide the right blend of data architecture, data stewardship and data engineering skills to tie economic significance to the value of data.
In my current role, I am continuing to develop these skills in my team, using the latest technologies to enable data to be at the heart of everything we do.
Unequivocally, the proudest achievement of my career to date is being awarded the 2nd Generation Chief Data Officer award by Data Talks. To be recognised by my peers for the journey I took ASOS on was great.
My role model isn’t one person, it’s the combination of a number of influential people in my life (home and work life). The key ingredients are that they have a passion for something; whether it is data architecture, influencing people through storytelling, or being really curious about why the data is giving these answers, the list is long.
2019 was a great year for me. In February, I started my new role at Photobox. I have been building a great team, that I am really proud of, to develop a reporting and insight capability that is enabling the business to use data in ever more relevant and interesting ways to support our strategy. This allowed us to understand customer behaviour during our busiest peak trading period at Christmas in ways we could not before.
I expect 2020 to be an exciting year for data and analytics and expect the pace of change to continue to increase in a number of areas. First, increased transition to the new cloud-based data technologies with considerations on when the tipping point has been reached to make the additional investment required to switch off the legacy estate. Second, the changing role of a CDO will need to challenge and influence stakeholders, continuing to show that investments in data do pay off as the pressure to focus on the day to day operations of the business increases.
The biggest opportunity will come from companies that can utilise the data and technology in a way where it can give back time to its consumers. This could come in many areas, including machine learning to detect health issues more quickly, a new consumer service to empower customers to have more time to do the things they want to, or increased awareness of the impact the decisions they are making.
I don’t think technology will be the biggest challenge we will face. I believe it will be in improving data literacy at all levels within the company to make the most of the enhanced capabilities we are providing them. Whether that is ensuring that colleagues understand the statistical output of their latest AB test or understanding the best metrics they should be using for the datasets they have available and the questions they are asking of them, preparing all our employees for this analytics revolution will be key to its success.