CDO Exchange Europe 2020

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What would you have expected to hear people talk about most at the CDO Exchange Europe? Data? Of course. Technology? Surely. Governance? Probably.

I’ve just had the privilege of chairing the Exchange once again and it gradually dawned on me through the event that speakers and delegates were spending very little time talking about technology. Of course, it was there in the background, but definitely not centre stage.

The narrative from all our speakers, panellists, and the questions posed by our delegates, shook off any temptation to focus on the plumbing and instead centred around two perhaps less predictable themes:

Outcomes and people.

I loved it!

With regard to outcomes, we were reminded of the continuum that connects data, information, and actionable insights. I’m talking about practical, down to earth, “keep your eyes on the prize” types of reminders. Plenty of great advice and personal stories delivered both inspiration and challenge in equal measure.

We were also treated to first-hand accounts of how, during the current pandemic, businesses and organisations of all kinds have had to become much more outcome focused than they were previously – sometimes just to survive. They’ve had to re-invent themselves, pivot rapidly, and react to ever-changing circumstances on an almost a daily basis.

At the heart of that rapid and continuous change have been the insights they have drawn from data – no doubt. But fast and sometimes risky decisions have still required courage, especially when the data underpinning it all has at times been limited, inelegantly organised, and the insights ultimately less than perfect. Businesses have needed to create new outcomes, and whilst the data really helped, it ultimately needed brave humans to act.

This emphasis on people was expressed in various other ways too. We were shown examples of a relentless program to improve the customer experience on one hand and the development of a culture which approaches and embraces the benefits of data-driven insights (and is prepared to accept the exposure that transparency brings) on the other.

The ever-present challenge of how best to illicit support from other senior stakeholders was also much debated. Addressing that issue, speakers reminded us of the need to maintain a clear business focus and pick the right use-cases. We were challenged to create an ethical framework in which to govern the management and use of data, and of the need to establish strong and clear communication lines across the whole organisation.

All of these are very human elements and were fundamental to the success stories we heard. Or so it seemed to me.

Outcomes and people. Be honest – are those really what you thought the two biggest themes at the CDO Exchange Europe would be?

I’ve been reminding people for a while now that at Bloor Research we also believe that the three pillars of people, business models, and technology are so inter-woven today that they cannot afford to be siloed from each other, so it was a joy to see that belief confirmed so clearly by such an accomplished group of leaders and practitioners.

Thank you to all participants in the Exchange. It was great!