What are the key items that CIOs can act on now?
Carter: The first one is all about outcomes and outcomes make a difference. Russ spoke about some of the outcomes they’d seen around greenhouse gas emissions, the reduction in waste, the reduction in water usage. The data drives that. It drives the transparency and visibility around that kind of outcome associated with that ESG use case. It’s about understanding all the data variabilities and velocities to pull together the report that everyone can then trust.
The second is all about the silo breakers. Russ spoke about the anti-silo mentality and that’s the digital business fabric mentality in effect. There’s two parts to that. There’s the data architecture that helps to cut through those siloes, but then you need the people to pick up the ball and run with it. They’re the ones who really make the difference in terms of making it happen across the different business areas.
The whitepaper goes into detail about the core data principles and Russ spoke about four that they use at AstraZeneca - fair, findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. You need to define your own. You need to define the principles that ensure you have the trust and transparency and usability of the data to deliver on those outcomes.
Finally the data architecture needs to fit your organisation - how holistic it is, the flexibility required. The components needed to fit with your organisational structure. This is the tentpole that holds up that digital business fabric.
What top tips would you give to organisations looking to accelerate the move to being a data champion?
Smith: I would start with explaining “The Why?”. What is that compelling reason to get unambiguous senior support for what you’re trying to achieve?
IT people tend to work with terminology like ‘speed to insight’ or ‘speed to impact’, but you need to make it real. In our case, it’s ‘speed to cure’. It’s really that important. The ability to get from data to a medicine that saves somebody’s life is a compelling ‘why’. And that gives you the senior stakeholder support that you need.
That causes a ripple effect that allows you to build a culture that is comfortable being uncomfortable with its data. Because at times it is uncomfortable; your data won’t be clean when you start this journey. It won’t be complete. But until you create that transparency and a safe space to fix the data, query the data, figure out how to improve how you manage the data, you’re never going to build that culture.
Finally, you have to build around a small number of effective platforms that can be your foundation. There are thousands of data products and technologies out there, you need to pick the few good ones on which you can build an open and flexible enterprise architecture.