After a brief flirtation with a career in computer games testing in the late 1990s, I’ve worked in a number of data roles, starting as a database executive for a market research company and then for an engineering company, Buhler Sortex, in East London. After that I moved from client-side to agency-side as an account executive and then account manager for Broadsystem, a marketing services and database specialist agency, where I first got to work with single customer views. In 2007, I joined Oxford University Press as a data and systems analyst where I continued to specialise in developing SCVs to support the delivery of marketing strategies. I joined BMJ, a global healthcare knowledge provider, as marketing analysis and reporting manager in 2012 where we started to build a small team of data specialists covering compliance, quality management and developing good uses of data. Currently, I’m head of data and analysis with responsibility for developing and delivering BMJ’s data strategy which is focused on delivering value from our customer and user data.
The highlight so far has been the successful implementation of BMJ’s data strategy. This has seen data and analytics grow from a fragmented discipline spread across a number of functions into a coherent approach. It is enabling value to be derived from our data by a great team of subject matter experts by managing compliance risks, improving data quality management processes, and developing our overall data capability. This allows us to use data to run more effective marketing campaigns that engage audiences with our content and to transform data into information that can be used to support good business decisions.
Experience as many of the various disciplines that this industry offers as possible. I would stress the importance of working smart and the importance of being open and honest. Not everything works as well as we might want and it’s okay to learn from mistakes. Finally, I’d stress the need to be resilient.
Happily, from a BMJ data perspective, it did. We pretty much managed the arrival of GDPR in May 2018 without too much unexpected disruption. Beyond GDPR, we made good progress in expanding the data sources that we have available for analysis and insight which in turn meant we were able to make progress in delivering self-service business intelligence. We also made good progress in using behavioural data to increase engagement with our content.
Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to draw breath after GDPR and that we will see the potential benefits from AI, machine learning and process automation being delivered in a positive way that benefits the societies we live in.
Good data talent and skills are absolutely a challenge to find. We tackle this at BMJ by recruiting to a high standard. We also look to nurture our staff by supporting them in the ongoing development of their skillsets. We encourage our data team to make a difference either by improving internal processes or by enabling our stakeholders to achieve their objectives. I hope and want everyone who works in data at BMJ to find that their work is fulfilling and that they really have an opportunity to make a difference.
I remain optimistic that data and analytics can be used to enable individuals, organisations, and societies to be better informed and that this information can be used to develop knowledge that can be used to make rational, evidence-based decisions.