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Chris Bannocks, global chief data officer, Danone

Chris Bannocks

Path to power

I have been involved in data from well before it was fashionable and have developed every year and at pace; most of my career has been spent in financial services, consulting, as a vendor or overseeing digital transformation.

 

I have spent the last 22 years in data roles, including interim chief data officer, head of master data, reference data, analytics and insights. I have also spent time creating and delivering solutions during my time at Thomson Reuters and as a consultant delivering solutions and strategies in all parts of the industry.

 

I started my journey way back in the late 90s when I made the mistake of complaining too much about data and was asked to help fix it. This provided me with my first exposure and learning experiences of data models and their interactions with process, to master and reference data and data vendors.

 

After a few years, I set up a consultancy serving the financial services industry, with coalface expertise in data. I then joined Thomson Reuters as a product business owner, driving the strategy and business growth for three different businesses for over six years.

 

From there I made the jump back to financial services, on the transformation side, running master and reference data and market data for Nomura and then Barclays.

 

After Barclays I spent some additional time consulting, after returning from India, and soon after made the jump to become the first chief data officer for ING Group in the Netherlands.

 

In June 2019, I joined Danone in Paris to start the CDO journey again, from scratch, focusing on business enablement and growth with a human powered, data enabled transformation in a totally new industry.

 

This mix of experience provides a unique perspective and a great deal of empathy with the challenges we face in our roles and how to best engage with stakeholders in all areas of the business. It also leverages my thirst for challenge, difficulty and perseverance and my interest and adaptability to new pastures and great transformations.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

The launch of DataScope Select for Thomson Reuters; a product that shifted the market in terms of flexible data consumption from financial data providers in the fund management domain.

 

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

This will sound a little different, many people probably look to digital leaders, but my mentor is Jim Rohn, if you don’t know who he is, read his books.

 

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

Not at all, I wasn’t expecting to be at Danone, I was expecting to still be leading data for ING. I look back fondly on my time with ING, and I am very proud to be the first CDO at Danone. So, I am now at the beginning of a special journey again, a huge challenge and one I cherish. Whilst not what I expected, I am really very proud to be part of the Danone team.

 

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

I think we will continue to mature in 2020, with technology continuing to gather pace. With a much larger percentage of firms having cracked the fundamentals of data management and excellence data analytics, AI and more advanced technologies will start to accelerate as a result of more available and organised data-sets.

 

Quantum computing will continue to emerge, and this will start to offer significant opportunities in the coming years, but it’s unlikely to affect any of us in 2020. Maybe it can finally be the year of blockchain maturity?

 

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

I see the biggest opportunity being how technology can have an impact on our planet and our health, creating the opportunities to reduce global warming, providing healthy food to everyone and clean drinking water as a fundamental human right. Meat replacements will emerge quickly and change the way we buy and choose our foods. Technology, AI, analytics and data for the good of the planet, what bigger opportunity can there be?

 

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

The big challenges are not technical ones, the technology continues to outpace human’s ability to put it to use. We need to ensure we focus our execution on end user consumption and use to improve consumers lives, not just for the sake of having nice visuals and better insights. Insights without actions are worse than no insights at all (all the cost but none of the value), so getting people to understand this, and ensuring we affect and shift KPIs with our technology, is most important.

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