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Richard Tate, Director of data and decisioning, BT

Path to power

 

I began my career in journalism working for the BBC and Sky. When the BBC asked me to develop a new website for Crimewatch, I wanted to understand how the site was being used once it went live and those rudimentary web log files were my starter into analytics. When I left the BBC to go to 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 at Three developing the mobile and web analytics function 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 hudl tablets before moving to EE to build out the digital analytics function there, expanding the team over a couple of years. In 2018, I took on the role of director of data and decisioning across both EE and BT where I’m responsible for 200 data professionals across reporting, analysis, decisioning, data science and data management.

 

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

 

Taking on the role of data and decisioning director at BT’s consumer division. Simply because I get to work with a bunch of really talented, dedicated data professionals who are constantly looking for opportunities to put data at the heart of everything we do for the benefit of our EE and BT customers and our business.

 

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

 

Never stop being curious. Never stop asking why (and also why not). Never stop challenging yourself to improve. But always make sure you take time to look back and reflect.

 

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

 

In many ways, yes, and that’s not a good thing. In the year GDPR came into effect, British Airways, Dixons Carphone and Marriott were just three major companies to hit the headlines for data breaches. The trust of our users and customers is absolutely critical - we must all be collectively careful that we’re able to keep that trust.

 

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

 

The same as 2018 - lots of change! We’ll have to continue to keep abreast of everything that’s moving around us, carefully selecting what’s going to work for our business and what isn’t, but never being afraid to test and learn.

 

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

 

I’ve always been passionate about getting young people involved in data and analytics and that starts with both apprenticeships and graduate placements. Developing a great place to work helps with recommendations, too. That could be something as basic as the environment, but also the right career development framework, rewards, learning and development opportunities, and that it’s a fun place to be, too. We’ve spent time on our recruitment and careers pages, highlighting data professionals and showcasing some of the role types and activities that we get up to.

 

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

 

If a voice assistant can sing me a song or turn my lights on and off, what’s stopping similar technology from telling my business how many sales were completed in the last hour? Having great data is brilliant, but getting value out of it is the real substance of what we do. I believe that consumer technology like voice assistants and chat bots are key enablers for us to get information out to anyone who wants it. While I dislike the word, I’m optimistic that we’re on the cusp of democratisation not of data itself, but of the value we can derive from it. That’s exciting.

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