Simplifying the path to Data Intelligence: A perspective from Roberto Maranca at Schneider Electric

In 2019, we caught up with Roberto Maranca, Vice President Data Excellence at Schneider Electric, where digital transformation is at its core. On this Data Privacy Day, we invited Roberto to take a look back at where we were with him two years ago, what’s evolved, and what’s ahead.   

Collibra: Roberto, when we met with you in 2019, not long after GDPR was implemented, you were early in your journey with Collibra – and we were all relatively new to GDPR for that matter. What was your approach to data then with your role in a huge, global organization? 

Roberto: I believe that there is no “data strategy” developed in isolation from a business strategy. Alignment for enablement is key. In the same vein, data privacy and protection have to be seen as a pillar on how everyone in the company treats data.

Collibra: And there are five principles that you believe should be followed, right?

Roberto: Yes, our five data principles! The company stands by our foundational commitment that everything you do with data should follow our simple principles:

  1. Data should be governed
  2. Data should be standardized
  3. Data should be resilient
  4. Data should be compliant
  5. Data should be ethical

These principles stand true at our core. The idea is really to do the best for the customers, employees, suppliers, investors – everyone in our data ecosystem. 

Collibra: You’re in a massive organization with data citizens across the globe. How do you ensure that these principles are upheld as a company-wide standard?

Roberto: Oh yes, that is quite a challenge, isn’t it? I guess simplicity helps. Rather than having long and technically convoluted policies, having something contained in a bit more than a page and expressed in simple, common sense, terminology helps. Then the key is consistency, and always supporting people to find the connection back to the principles. Accordingly, we designed the SE Data Excellence approach with those principles in mind and we defined “disciplines” that outline what good looks like when you follow the principles. For instance, to satisfy the II principle (Standardization) the Data Management Discipline would expect you to have a repository of data definitions that everyone contributes to (anything that comes to mind?). Then it is down to steadfast repetition of basic messages with an eye to anchor them into concepts that are familiar: so in a manufacturing environment to talk about “data as a product” really resonates and it reinforces the learning. Then in a big company you have a lot of levers you can pull, and we have been incredibly active with the internal collaboration platforms (e.g. Yammer), or grabbing internal learning opportunities with webinars and training sessions. 

Collibra: What wisdom or tips would you pass along to your 2019 self?

Roberto: I would recommend to always exercise patience (not one of my strengths): no matter how many times at the beginning of such a journey you tell yourself that “it is a marathon”, it is easy to feel the end is not nigh at all. Instead you should just turn your head to see how far you have gone already.

Collibra: What’s ahead in 2021? 

Roberto: I hope 2021 will turn out to be the year of Data Intelligence, which means that through a bit more of grit and determination we should reach a critical mass in our Corporate Memory for Data (Collibra). We can start to turn that knowledge of where data is and who is using it for what purpose into clearly quantifiable business advantages, like agility in response and reduced cost to change and, of course, increased trust for our customers and employees.

Collibra: Thank you, Roberto, for your time today. We look forward to continuing our partnership with you and your team. 


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