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Richard Tate, data and decisioning director, digital, BT Consumer

Richard Tate

Path to power

I started my professional life as a BBC and Sky journalist. When the BBC asked me to create a Crimewatch website, I really wanted to understand how the site was being used and rudimentary log files were my starter into analytics. When I left the BBC to go to mobile operator Three, I was also curious about how people were interacting with and buying mobile content in the early days of 3G.

 

I spent nearly eight years developing the mobile and web analytics team before heading over to Telefònica Digital for a couple of years to build out a capability in app analytics.

 

I then worked on hardware and software analytics with Tesco’s own-brand tablet range before moving to EE to build out the digital analytics function there, expanding the team over a couple of years. In my current role I’m responsible for leading a team of over 250 talented data professionals across data analytics, data management, data science and decisioning.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

It is leading my team. I’ve worked with many talented people in my career, but it’s truly an honour and a privilege to lead a group of highly collaborative, high performing people who have all come together to form a brilliant team. With the pace of change that we’re seeing in the data industry, the way the team are both adapting to it, and in some ways leading it, has been amazing and inspirational.

 

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

I don’t have one person who I turn to for inspiration to be honest. I look to the people around me to help me constantly learn and develop, and in turn hope that I can impart my knowledge in some way too. There’s barely a day that goes by that I don’t learn something from my colleagues, and for me that’s all the inspiration I need.

 

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

Our data industry is constantly changing. Whether it’s the technology that we can use, the skills that we need or the rules and regulations about how we use data, the landscape is always shifting. And that’s what I was expecting. None of us do what we do to just stand still and watch the world revolve around us.

 

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

Exciting, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are going to see more and more devices connected to the Internet, consuming and generating data at speeds and in quantities we’ve not witnessed at scale. And we’ve got the job of helping make sense of it all, driving value for our businesses and high quality, personalised experiences for our customers. 2020 will bring the wide scale availability of artificial intelligence, enabled by the cloud, helping us to fully leverage the power of the data we hold.

 

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

We’re seeing people turning to digital channels in ever increasing numbers, largely because of the convenience it offers. Brilliant experiences are created with a combination of amazing journeys coupled with a smart data brain. And those brilliant experiences need to be as personal to the end user as they want them to be. The important thing for business, the economy and society is for those brilliant experiences to be available to everyone, no matter how, where and when they choose to interact. That’s the opportunity – to use the power of data to make a positive difference for everyone.

 

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

Legacy. The data world is shifting rapidly. Machine learning is becoming more accessible, underpinned by flexible cloud storage and processing. The quantity and quality of data is growing and the speed at which we capture and use it is moving to milliseconds. However, the biggest challenge is making legacy systems play nice with the newer systems. Another challenge is the pace of change. Making choices today is getting tougher when it might be outdated tomorrow and as we all know, future-proofing is pretty much impossible.

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