Using data to fuel your transformation

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Businesses will struggle to innovate if they don’t understand their data.

That was according to a panel of experts discussing how big data, algorithms and AI are used in businesses and how they can be transformational, power change and help firms progress.

The panel included David Richards, CEO & co-founder of WANdisco, Steve Caughey, Director of National Innovation, Centre for Data, Dan Graham, CTO – 247 Group, Steve Pimblett, Chief Data Officer at the Very Group and Charlotte Bailey, COO at PanIntelligence.

Speaking at TheBusinessDesk’s Disruptors North Conference, the boss of distributed computing firm WANdisco, said there were still many challenges associated with data and the utilisation of data which he described as being the “fundamental source of competitive advantage” across every industry sector.

David Richards said: “If we look at the automotive space, moving forward in the next five years sensors are going to tell an insurance company how you drive and what your risk profile is and actually science is going to turn the sector on its head and is going to disrupt absolutely everything in the same way that Amazon did for retail.”

He went onto say with the vast amount of technology already available, the race is how to get the data into the cloud so people can make some use of it.

“That’s the really hardest thing,” he added.

Charlotte Bailey, COO at PanIntelligence, which provides the software that helps drive the insight out of data, said data should be used to “inform and improve decision making.”

“It can help provide clarity and confidence against decision making,” she said.

“It helps businesses become more proactive, and I’ve used data to revamp and refine our operations. We use it to inform customer journeys and our own business flows to boost customer acquisition and drive retention.

“And the reason for that is because we now have a single customer view, and we look at all of that data and look for the commonalities to help provide us with a competitive advantage by understanding the data we’ve got and understanding what drives change.”

Steve Caughey, Director of National Innovation, Centre for Data in Newcastle pointed out that much of the innovation that is taking place is in digital and that innovation is data.

“And if you don’t fully understand your data, you’ll struggle to innovate,” he said.

“So, it’s important to get the skills that will let you then go out and innovate with your customers and your clients.”

Dan Graham, CTO of Manchester-based 247 Group said the key to using data was to understand what data is being generated and why.

“There’s no point having data in little silos that is unrelated and you can’t join it all up together. So really it’s about getting the data into a position where you can actually start to analyse it, that’s how you start on this journey, and then you can look at what the tools and tricks are to actually get the most out of it.”

Steve Pimblett, Chief Data Officer at the Very Group, spoke of data strategy and data insight action from which actions can then be taken.

“Technically is about joining it to the business outcome and getting the business to want to answer the questions about actionable insights.

“So we’re looking at where do we make all our margin, which suppliers give us the best return, what’s the unit cost of every item stored in our warehouse, which costs customers have got the best long-term value that we can offer the best deals to.

“The daily insight action piece is fundamental, because for me that’s where the business has engaged with the insight and the data that you need to answer the business questions.”

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