Data Citizens EMEA ‘19: Bringing the community to London

2019 was a year of big firsts at Collibra. When our CEO Felix Van de Maele took the stage to open the sold-out Data Citizens EMEA this week in London, he pointed out that the year kicked off with Collibra becoming Belgium’s first tech unicorn and quickly followed with our first-ever acquisition of innovative data lineage provider SQLdep. 

Taking a first step is crucial in any journey. At Data Citizens EMEA ’19 we heard from many companies that are still in the early stages of their digital transformation journeys, with data serving a crucial role in guiding them along that path to Data Intelligence.

A common theme was the importance of engaging business stakeholders and staying focused on successful business outcomes when driving digital transformation. Our CTO Stan Christiaens moderated a panel on that very subject, bringing together data leaders from a range of industries – including Kate Brooks from Lloyds Banking Group, Barbara Moll-Stuetzle from Roche Group, Sarah Moore from NOW TV and Kim Woodward from AstraZeneca. All panelists agreed that collaboration was a key success factor when enlisting support from the business. Not only do data professionals need to enlist the support of business stakeholders, they also need to energize them with the possibilities that data offers to transform their operations and customer propositions. 

And while technology has always been seen as key to digital transformation, people and process can be of even greater importance. Cloud architectures have the potential to commoditize data infrastructure, placing greater emphasis on how people can leverage that infrastructure to improve business processes and outcomes. 

Leading cloud service providers are also arming companies with increasingly powerful analytics, noted David Elliott, AI Advocate at Google Cloud. He showed how the development of more advanced AI and ML techniques are pushing the boundaries of what companies can do with their data. 

Jim Cushman echoed those key trends as he outlined Collibra’s product roadmap and our vision for the future of our platform. With the introduction of automatic data classification in Collibra Catalog, we’re committed to tapping into the significant potential of ML algorithms to enhance our customers’ productivity. As we look ahead to 2020, Jim shared our cloud approach and the steps we’ll take on the next phase of our Data Intelligence journey. 

We also heard some powerful practical examples of how data can transform an organization. Aidan Millar, CDO at Norway’s largest financial organization DNB Bank, offered guidance on how to enable successful digital strategies. He noted that one key hurdle faced by many organizations is technical debt with data assets often locked away in a variety of silos. Extracting value from those silos requires constant communication and a collaborative and collegiate approach. Through that process, the bank has already made some great inroads. One project resulted in the creation of new algorithms to identify customers at risk of leaving, providing an opportunity for relationship managers not only to retain those customers, but also up-sell additional products. Similarly, leveraging a treasure trove of transactional data has allowed the bank to provide its corporate clients with new insights – with detailed reports into spending patterns, customer demographics and product affinities. 

An equally compelling customer story was presented by Laetitia Chassefiere, group data officer at CMA-CGM. Laetitia took us through the journey she has undertaken to empower her organization to become more data-centric. She reiterated the importance of establishing a data culture – empathizing with the issues facing business executives, not only by understanding their challenges but also their aspirations and how data can make a difference to their operations. 

Getting the balance between deriving value from data and mitigating potential risks was a theme elaborated on by our partners at Deloitte, with Christophe Hallard and Andy Whitton alongside Collibra’s Upwan Chachra providing an overview of evolving data privacy regulations around the globe. 

Collibra’s Senior Director of Product Chandra Papudesu and Tableau tech evangelist Francois Zimmerman took the audience through the importance of self-service business intelligence tools and the power of using Collbra and Tableau together to empower data-driven organisations. 

Spencer Rockman, Director of IT Strategy & Architecture at Credit Suisse presented alongside Collibra Senior Product Manager Peter Princen and provided insights into how organizations can use logical data models to connect the conceptual view of data taken by business owners with physical storage technologies used to house enterprise data. 

Last, but certainly not least, Felix moderated a CDO panel that brought together data leaders from a range of sectors, including Paddy Keenan from the UK Home Office, Roberto Maranca from Schneider Electric, Liezel McCord from Morgan Stanley, Keeley Miles from Ford Credit, Dr. Adrian Pearce from Credit Suisse and Hugues Le Bar from Aviv Group. All of our panelists agreed that the key to successful data programs was to stay focused on delivering business value. In support of that goal, data leaders need to enlist support from everyone across the organization, not only at the most senior level, but also from the bottom-up. As firms continue to execute data-centric strategies, the importance of collaboration increases, as well as the need to demonstrate quick-wins by addressing key business pain-points.

Hearing real world examples of the impact of Data Intelligence from our customers is one of the many reasons we love hosting Data Citizens. I’m in awe of how much our global community has grown, and our first-ever Data Citizens EMEA was a huge success. Thank you to all our attendees for the great informative discussions and debates.

We can’t wait to see you at a future Data Citizens. The call for speakers for Data Citizens ’20 in New York is now open. And stay tuned for more details on our next Data Citizens EMEA, coming to Amsterdam in Fall 2020. We’ll see you there!