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ICO head tops DataIQ data leader list

The UK’s information commissioner has been named at the top data leader for 2018 in the DataIQ 100 list of most influential data leaders

Moving up from third position in 2017, UK information commissioner Elizabeth Denham claimed top place in the fifth DataIQ 100 list of the UK’s industry leaders who drive business success through data.

DataIQ described the information commissioner as someone who demonstrates leadership, is accountable and innovative, and undoubtedly the most influential individual in data in 2018.

DataIQ, a cross-industry community of data and analytics professionals, compiles the list using objective criteria that recognise those with the greatest leadership skills, engagement with the board, industry contribution and influence, best data privacy practices, and who are innovative with data.

After Elizabeth Denham, the DataIQ “power 10” of the 100 industry leaders recognised in 2018 are:

  1. Gillian Tomlinson, chief data officer, RSA.
  2. Andy Day, chief data officer at Sainsbury’s and the top leader for 2017.
  3. Jon Hussey, managing director, data and strategic analysis, Barclays.
  4. Michael Greene, group data and analytics director, Tesco.
  5. Paul Lodge, chief data officer, Department for Work and Pensions.
  6. Lauren Sager-Weinstein, chief data officer, Transport for London.
  7. Orlando Machado, global director of customer analytics and data science, Aviva.
  8. Martin Squires, global lead, customer intelligence and data, Walgreens Boots Alliance.
  9. Katya Walsh, chief global data and analytics officer, Vodafone.

Speaking ahead of the announcement of the “power 10”, Denham said that as someone who has been passionate about information and data – and the responsible and ethical use of data – for a long time, she celebrated the fact that data privacy and protection is no longer a back-office issue.

“It is an exciting time to be in data, but also a bit of a stressful time to be the information commissioner,” she said, in the face of Brexit and new data protection and privacy legislation at home and internationally.

Commenting on winning top spot, Denham said it was “fantastic” that DataIQ had chosen a regulator as the top influencer and leader in the industry.

“That says something about this industry, and what has really inspired me is just how the UK is leading in both innovating with data and new applications that provide new services to people, as well as reflecting the values of respect and responsible use of data,” she told Computer Weekly.

“The UK leads in this space to be able to get the public policy right – the balance between using data and delivering services in a way that is accountable and responsible.

“The UK government has committed to retain the highest data protection standards because they understand that if we are going to have an industry that is sustainable, you need to take people along the way, so the trust and confidence is really important,” she said.

Denham praised DataIQ for providing an important forum for data professionals to share best practice and learning, which she said is essential in such a fast-paced and changing environment.

“Leaders and practitioners in this space – everyone in data and analytics should learn from data, and augment their services through data intelligence, but also ensure that they don’t lose sight of their brand and the essence of their service.

“Data is a powerful tool – when used ethically and responsibly, it can be used to empower and enrich all our lives. It is incumbent on all of us as data professionals to earn the trust and confidence of the public in how their personal data is used, so that everyone benefits in a data-driven world.

“The General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR] is a game changer and a powerful incentive for businesses to embrace good data protection practice. I am encouraged by the many organisations that see the data opportunities the law presents, rather than the barriers it throws up.

“My role allows me to engage with progressive companies and public bodies looking to adopt privacy-by-design solutions. I am struck by entrepreneurial development of products which minimise the amount of personal data processed and which maximise the control people have over their data. 

“As the head of the agency charged with protecting UK citizens’ information rights, I am honoured to work with 500 staff dedicated to innovative regulation and excellent public service.”

Recognition brings ‘significant benefits’

Andy Day, chief data officer at Sainsbury’s, top leader for 2017 and ranked third in 2018, said the accolade had been useful in the past year in engaging with industry to a greater degree.

“I spent the year assembling a brilliant team at Sainsbury’s and getting the business to understand what we are doing, and what is possible with data and analytics,” he said.

Day said he also had the opportunity to “rub shoulders with the great and the good” in the data analytics industry and share the passion and enthusiasm with like-minded people as the industry matures.

The DataIQ 100 recognition has brought some significant benefits, he said, including raising his profile, generating contacts with people doing “exciting things” in the technology space, assisting him in his mission to “bring the outside in” in terms of ideas and best practices, and attract talent to his team.

“Being recognised in the DataIQ 100 list tells people that the person they might be going to work for has got passion for the industry, and that the company they work for is taking the data subject really seriously,” said Day.

One of the biggest challenges in the year ahead, especially for corporates, he said, is probably going to be attracting and retaining the best talent in the data analytics industry, while the biggest single challenge will be enacting the opportunities the business presents, and getting stuff done to make a difference.

Breakthrough year for data experts

David Reed, director of strategy at DataIQ, said choosing the candidates for the DataIQ 100 2018 edition was a unique opportunity to understand how far data and analytics practitioners have come since the first list five years ago.

“With 475 nominations, it was the most diverse set of candidates that we have ever considered and the final line-up is our strongest yet. It also reveals that 2017 was a breakthrough year for individuals, even more than it was for the industry as a whole. This is because they are finally benefitting from the status, resources and rewards that have long been merited, but not always realise,” he said.

Lindsay McEwan, vice-president and managing director for Europe at data integration firm Tealium, the headline partner of the 2018 DataIQ 100, said with the imminent implementation of the GDPR, businesses are being forced to focus on data governance.

“At Tealium, we strongly advocate data transparency and encourage businesses to adopt a similar mindset. Through building consumer trust, gathering data from all entry points, and bridging data silos into a centralised hub, we can obtain a 360-degree customer view. Companies will then be best-placed to provide engaging, personalised, and real-time experiences,” he said.

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