Session 4-1

Data Traps and Treasure Hunts

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My professional life of over 30 years has been dedicated to software and data engineering. This presentation is a means to share my perspective and experiences in data, with the intent to improve the effectiveness of the C-suite and Board of Directors as they navigate the transition from mass production, to software-led to data-led industry. The future Chief Data (and Analytics) Officers (CDO) must become more influential and impactful. The statement “every business is a software business” is old news. It has taken 20 years for traditional businesses to understand they are software dependent: some have conquered it; some are still attempting to imitate it. For some businesses, another 20 years to understand and adapt to the shift to a data-driven economy is not an option. The presentation covers anti-patterns and helpful behaviours towards data management in organisations that are striving to become truly powered by data. Anti-patterns (data traps) cover how data is misunderstood as a new discipline since the turn of the century and how comparisons and slogans that aim to help framing data are counterproductive. This section will also cover how CDO roles have become magnets for data issues in the organisation without the necessary reach to resolve them: data accessibility and compliance, for example. It explores how professional skills have not kept up with the emerging needs, where over specialisation is harmful. The last section explores behaviours that create positive momentum (treasure hunts). The CDO’s contribution to business agility needs to become visible: it’s no longer contained within maintaining compliance and extracting value from data; the role must have direct influence on the virtual production line as data moves from raw material to final product. Topics include going beyond software development agility, making greater use of data by-products (metadata) and, more importantly, making continuous learning appealing to Executives that want to lead businesses in future. The key messages carry a few recommendations to CDOs and equivalent roles, including practical suggestions. I share my own current experiences at Nationwide in partnering with the Executive team and Board of Directors, taking tangible steps to unveil the virtual production line, and implementing data principles that cross the chasm between technologists and non-technologists.


Simone steel

Chief Data and Analytics Officer, Nationwide Building Society