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Jon Cano-Lopez, Chief executive officer, REaD Group

Path to power

 

I am proud to describe myself as a data geek! I started my days as a programmer at Centre-File, NatWest’s data centre. I soon saw the huge potential that data could deliver if used properly and left to start my own business, Altwood Systems, when I was 25. After a very successful 11 years, implementing some of the largest and most complex single customer views of the time, Altwood was bought by Claritas. I became part of the senior team at Claritas and when it was sold to Acxiom, I was asked to take responsibility for European database services division. In 2007, I moved to AI Data intelligence with a brief to build, grow and dispose. AI was acquired by Communisis two years later. In 2014, I was given the opportunity to lead REaD Group. The opportunity of taking one of the industry’s most iconic and recognisable brands into exciting new pastures and development was a temptation too strong to resist. And I am delighted that the past five years have seen significant growth in both revenues and EBIT year-on-year. I am always active and committed to organisations where the aspirations of the wider industry are at their heart.

 

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

 

I’m lucky to say there have been many, but the uniting characteristic is working with some great people, whether that be a member of my team delivering something they never thought possible or a client who is just gushing in their praise of our work.

 

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

 

Go for it and learn the intricacies from end-to-end. Grasp the power of data and never doubt it. Make as many contacts as possible and never stop networking. Appreciate the value of every piece of information and respect it to the highest degree.Probably!!! The year of GDPR could be called the year of conflicting information and panic. I welcomed GDPR from the very beginning. The value of data is immense and should be respected. The consumer is central and they are now are better informed and have more control. Businesses that have been measured, nimble and responsible are flourishing, those that didn’t take GDPR quite as seriously are finding it harder. After furore and panic, the industry does seem to have settled down. Marketers who thought the ICO were going to kill our industry are opening their eyes. People have started to realise that GDPR is significantly wider than consent! GDPR is a long overdue revision of the laws governing our industry and I welcome it.

 

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

 

Well, the mist around GDPR is clearing and the opportunities for those businesses where data is central are opening up. Database management isn’t just about gaining consent once. Databases containing consumer information are alive and continually change. These assets need to be treated with respect and we must do all that we can to keep them up-to-date and accurate. Forward-thinking, data-led companies will continue to flourish. Those that are not as professional and do not respect the law will be, quite rightly, found out. Technology and solutions have moved on and seamless applications into compliant data (data-as-a-service) will become more common. There is no excuse for poor quality, poorly-managed data in 2019 and beyond.

 

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

 

Talent and skills are indeed a challenge to find. At REaD Group, we work hard at creating the right environment and culture whereby we see ourselves as a virtual team, extending from our clients. We try to bring the feeling of our clients' businesses, including language, into our client pods. We also invest in the future of our industry by taking on graduates, training them straight from university.

 

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

 

I’ve never been more optimistic about our entire industry. GDPR is eliminating those that do not treat data with the care and attention that it deserves. The volume might have been reduced, but the quality has certainly increased. This flows through to all parts of our industry, whether you are a client, account manager, programmer, analyst or any other cog in this complicated wheel. Also, with more businesses than ever appointing CDOs and CDAs, the importance and value of data as integral to business success is clearly being acknowledged at senior level. So, in many ways, there has never been a better time to be in data!Data and analytics technology/service provider

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