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Anthony Cosgrove, Co-founder , HARBR

Path to power

 

I started my career in UK government, where I used data to identify complex criminality for which I was awarded an MBE in 2006. Following that, I moved to HSBC where I spent a decade delivering global change programmes in information security, fraud and financial crime. This included the creation of multiple analytics teams and big data platforms that delivered ground-breaking financial crime detection capabilities. During this time, it became clear that diversity was as critical as scale for achieving meaningful outcomes from data because context is king and it’s incredibly rare for any organisation to have a complete picture. The increasing adoption of cloud provided a unique opportunity to help organisations work together to achieve scale and diversity, so I conceptualised and co-founded HARBR to build a new category of data platform that solves the business, process and legal issues preventing organisations from rapidly acquiring the data they need. HARBR is now being used by multiple organisations to build and enhance data businesses and deliver real-world outcomes that would not otherwise have been possible.

 

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

 

My career highlights are the various times I have been given the opportunity to build something - a team, a platform, a capability, etc - from scratch. That early stage requires a huge amount of creativity, energy and teamwork and no day is ever the same. I thrive in those kinds of conditions and have found that my most valued professional relationships and my dearest work-related memories all stem from those times.

 

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

 

I would advise myself - or anyone else - to follow your interests, work hard and be nice to people. I would also emphasise that people are the most critical aspect in any job and far more important than pay, conditions or status, so always remain focused on that.

 

Did 2018 turn out the way you expected? If not, in what ways was it different?

 

Kind of. HARBR has been a huge success, which is more what I hoped for than necessarily expected! It’s always incredibly exciting to see an idea turn into something real that delivers meaningful value. GDPR went as I expected, but the scale and intensity of the backlash against the use of personal data by some of the largest technology companies was unexpected, even if long overdue. I think AI and distributed ledger technology continued to attract more attention than they were due - so many organisations continue to struggle with the basics of using data that these technologies are rarely the required solution.

 

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

 

I think 2019 will be hugely interesting. There is likely to be an increase in data-related regulation with GDPR serving as a blueprint. I suspect that many AI projects will struggle, as data is the most critical component, and very few organisations actually have the data they need. I also think there will be a growing consensus that large, monolithic data projects are not the way to go because so many of them fail, and we will see the rise of rapid, low-cost data projects driven by specific use cases.

 

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

 

We’re very fortunate to still be relatively small and everyone has strong networks from decades of working in the industry that we can draw upon.

 

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

 

I am most optimistic about the increasing interest, understanding and focus on data among commercially-minded board-level individuals. That’s absolutely crucial if the value of our collective data assets is going to be properly harnessed.Data and analytics technology/service provider

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