CIOFEST: The Data Economy: Global Perspectives Meet Local Insights

Published by Roger Camrass
May 27, 2022 @ 1:13 PM

Six panellists and more than 100 delegates joined CIONET UK’s second Community event of the year. The event was moderated by Roger Camrass, Research Director of CIONET International, and organised by Jenniffer Tang, Director of the UK Community Programme. It was sponsored by UiPath. Here is a summary of the discussion, edited by freelance business journalist, Mark Samuels.


How can data boost decision-making processes?

CIO Phil Jordon said Sainsbury’s extracts value from information by developing a data-centric business model. That process has required a few key steps, such as identifying important operational and customer information. Other steps have included digitising the business in its entirety and rebuilding the data ecosystem to create a modern, scalable environment. The journey beyond those foundational steps has included democratising data, to ensure it’s not held in silos, and re-visualising data, to push it to mobile endpoints across the business. The next step is ensuring the business uses analytics to improve decision-making processes.

Sainsbury’s tight grip on data has made a big difference already. It was the first supermarket to identify elderly and vulnerable customers during the pandemic and to prioritise home delivery. The retailer also used data to predict staff absences. Beyond the pandemic, Sainsbury’s uses machine-based algorithms to plan logistics, while machines also make suggestions on product substitutions for home deliveries. 

In fact, Phil says machines could play a part in every decision the company makes going forwards. He oversees a centralised data science team, which has allowed Sainsbury’s to transform its data capability. He says data is so important to change processes that CIOs, as enablers of data, will continue to play a central role.


How can organisations create data-driven business models?

Mark Powell, partner at EY, said the things companies can do with data now are far in advance to what might have been envisaged 10 years ago. Up to 80% of Mark’s clients are CFOs who own the investments in data and are frustrated with the results of these programmes. 

Mark gave the example of a client who is an automotive CFO and who was looking to reduce the amount of time it takes to sell used cars. By applying data analytics, the CFO and Mark recognised there was the potential to produce big bottom-line savings. 

Yet too often, data is investigated for the sake of it. Organisations are focused on data lakes, warehousing and governance. Too much time is spent on strategy and not enough on exploiting data. Data analytics must be embedded in strategy. Through hybrid teams of business and IT people, companies must concentrate on the insight they need first and then think about data collection.


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