Information Builders International Summit, London 2018

“Old ways won’t open new doors” was the quote that greeted me on the Tube. An apt thought to start the day, setting the scene for what was to be an interesting and lively Information Builders Summit.

The most fundamental message coming out of the Summit concerned the “digital age”, or more appropriately, the perception of what this new age means. When asking the audience of delegates what they thought the digital age was, keynote speaker Ade McCormack was greeted with a silent room, and wittily retorted with, “That’s enough interaction for this session!”. McCormack’s session on business models and evolution was humorous right from the start, indicating that he may well have intended the answer to his question to be a sea of confusion. Thus one of the main themes of the Summit was born. What exactly is the digital age?

The Digital Age

McCormack’s definition provoked some discussion amongst the Target Group team that were in attendance. He introduced the concept that although most people believe the digital age that we are now on the cusp of, is “the industrial revolution on technology steroids”. But, with his review of the history of the four ages of man, he explained that the digital age is in fact the complete opposite.

He said that the human race is in fact reverting to human nature, and nowhere more so than in the world of work.

Is he right?

Humans are undoubtedly becoming more social, collaborative, mobile, and output focused (like the hunter-gatherer age of 12,000 years ago) rather than siloed, static, linear and activity focused, which he compared to the period following the industrial revolution.

Many, if not all of the sessions at the Information Builders Summit encompassed discussions on the human element of digitalisation, often urging delegates to not only consider the human being in their transformation efforts, but to put them front and centre of future strategies.

After all, as the opening keynote speaker, Inma Martinez put it, “Data has always been there”. It’s humans that are evolving, not the data. The way we capture it, process it, control it is always changing. As is what we want to do with it. And that neatly introduces the second key theme of today.

Setting your hypothesis

Several of the talks explicitly gave the same important factor when considering data management strategies, or preparing for data-driven activities. And that’s to be clear on your hypothesis. What is it that we want to achieve from the data we are capturing and holding? What are we trying to prove or disprove? How will the data we hold help us to achieve that? And finally, what are we missing?

Filling in the missing gaps is our third theme of the day.

Filling the data gaps

Inaccuracies, duplicates, missing fields and out of date information poses a significant Know Your Customer problem from both a compliance point of view, and a barrier for providing the level of customer experience that consumers demand. While data is underused (less than 1% of unstructured data in a business is analysed or utilised in any way), there is no point in using it if it’s not accurate. If your goal is to utilise data to inform decision-making, inaccurate data will undoubtedly provide incorrect decisions. While this is true for all parts of the business, it’s particularly pertinent in digitalisation strategies.

Information Builders was created to enable a high definition single customer view, especially for large businesses with sprawling data sets that are looking to innovate and capitalise on their customer data. There was no talk today about the perils of data breaches, or the curse of GDPR. Getting to know your data, and managing it well provides businesses with an opportunity to accurately inform their business strategies, and improve performance.

After all, as Target Group’s Chief Digital Officer Martin Houghton put it, “To be good at digital, you have to be good at data”.

Download the White Paper: “Safeguarding personal data in a responsible and compliant way” to discover the capabilities your organisation needs for GDPR compliance, and the GDPR change framework