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Vlad Kaltenieks, global director of data, analytics and digital, William Hill

Vlad Kaltenieks

Path to power

My data and analytics journey began back in 2006, when I joined a City of London fintech start-up with an innovative web browser-based product. Harnessing the power of real-time data, it made exchange prices and fundamentals available at the fingertips for financial decision makers at the time when it often required dedicated and expensive set-ups from big data vendors.

 

Following that, I joined a commodities exchange, where data was seen as a critical asset and an opportunity to create value through monetisation; learning much about the value that data can create for different organisations and the necessity for the right infrastructure to support services.

 

After almost 6 years, I then joined a B2C telecommunications business, with their complex platforms, diverse lines of business and products, helping them quench their thirst for a single customer view and driving data governance programme.

 

And, finally, one of the most challenging and rewarding times of my professional life, I have spent while working for igaming and gambling businesses, where the ambition to leverage data, analytics and digital capabilities to exceed customer expectations and harness data science and machine learning for player protection are instrumental to business success and long-term viability.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

I am proud and honoured of having been a part of an ambitious digital transformation at William Hill. Here I have led a fantastic team to establish a truly holistic vision and strategy on how to win with modern data, analytics and digital capabilities in a highly competitive digital space.

 

This strategy has been executed through a massive technology transformation programme, changing 90% of the stack in just one year, in order to lay strong foundations and hence pave a way to seize opportunities to create products, services and experiences that will delight customers while delivering outstanding business value.

 

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

For me, it is about learning and getting energised from many amazing and passionate people out there, but if I would have to name just one, it would be the creator of OKRs – Objectives and Key Results, a goal setting technique, professor Andy Grove, and his powerful approach summarised in his famous quote: “Yes. No. Simple.”

 

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

In many aspects 2019 exceeded all wildest expectations with a truly mind-blowing scale, complexity and speed of our data and digital technology transformation programme. The best, almost unexpected and truly humbling, part was that people and partners have embraced the change with true passion and commitment, focusing on relentlessly finding ways and solutions to advance forward and push the boundaries.

 

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

I believe, 2020 will be the year, where we will continue to see even more data, bigger challenges (e.g. consolidation of certain data in “walled gardens”) and promises (data was the new oil, while artificial intelligence and machine learning are now the new gold), and respective technological solutions.

 

The key, however, will remain to focus on understanding your customers and solving real-world problems to continuously and incrementally deliver value in support of the big promise of data as an asset.

 

Meanwhile, without doubt, navigating the currents of regulatory complexities, security and data protection concerns will become even more pressing than last year.

 

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

As data and technology is evolving and involving entirely new capabilities of people and machines, the biggest opportunity becomes to shape this change into a force for good. With new ways in which the technology becomes embedded within our societies and now even human bodies, the way we can connect and amass the data through IoT, and apply new forms of machine intelligence, we can create conditions to feel part of something larger than ourselves.

 

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

The biggest challenge is in developing and maintaining the ability to consistently operate at different speeds and at the same time deliver the exciting new digital transformation agenda. We will also have to manage complexities in orchestrating and connecting all the disparate tools, processes and developing people capabilities, while simultaneously managing, evolving and deprecating legacy setups.

 

All this in order to deliver coherent, holistic and impactful data-driven digital products, services and experiences.

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