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CDO interview: Andy Moore, chief data officer, Bentley Motors

Data sits at the heart of the luxury car maker’s plans for a future with electric vehicles and a ‘hyper-personalised’ customer experience

Andy Moore, chief data officer at Bentley Motors, had a passion for cars as a young child. Luckily for him, it’s an interest he’s been able to foster during his career as a digital leader at Bentley, where he’s worked for more than 20 years.

“I stayed here because every time I’ve looked for my next move, there’s always been something attractive at Bentley,” he says.

Moore started his career at an automotive consultancy and spent time in the UK and Detroit during the 1990s. Just after the turn of the millennium, he got the opportunity to join Bentley.

“It was a chance to help make the most refined car in the world and it’s the pinnacle of automotive engineering,” he says. During his time with the company, he’s fulfilled a range of roles and responsibilities, including setting up Bentley’s digital department.

In November 2022, he moved into the chief data officer (CDO) role: “And what better opportunity than to become the company’s first CDO?”

Building a data office

He says the chance to lead data arose because Bentley, like so many other enterprises, has become reliant on data-led innovation. One of Moore’s prior responsibilities had been to set up a digitisation department alongside IT. “It was seen as the internal disruptor to inspire and accelerate the use of technology within the business,” he says.

One of Moore’s tasks during this process was the introduction of self-service analytics to break the reliance on Microsoft Excel. He wanted to help people across the business move towards modern data visualisation tools. Those attempts uncovered another issue – providing access to data in the first place.

“It’s alright having the visualisation on top, but you also need that layer of data in the middle,” he says. “As a legacy organisation, we’ve got dozens and dozens of data sources. It became clear we needed to bring those sources together and create something that’s accessible by everybody to build data products, as well as dealing with all the governance.”

“As a legacy organisation, we’ve got dozens and dozens of data sources. It became clear we needed to bring those sources together and create something that’s accessible by everybody to build data products, as well as dealing with all the governance”

Andy Moore, Bentley Motors

Moore proposed a solution – a central data office. He says the IT organisation was going through a transformation process at the time, looking to find ways that technology could be used to support the firm’s Beyond100 strategy, which aims to reinvent Bentley and create a fully electric car business by 2030.

“The whole plan came together towards the end of last year,” says Moore, adding that digital transformation at the company is about more than just enabling high-quality manufacturing. While digital and data helps Bentley to produce physical products, there’s a whole range of data-led services too.

“There’s more data in the car and there’s more experiences we can bring into the car,” he says. “The car will always have the mechanical level, but there’s the software level as well. There’s also the way we interact with our customers. We can join information from our CRM [customer relationship management] platform with social media scraping, for example.”

Moore says the result of this joined-up process is an increased ability to use data to trace customers across the whole purchasing process, whether it’s the first engagement via Bentley’s website, contacting the retailer for a test drive, or dealing with customer service requests once someone has purchased a car.

“We want to create a hyper-personalised journey,” he says. “Let’s say you’re someone who comes on site for a factory tour. Our tight grip on data will mean we know if you’re a prospect who’s thinking about buying a Bentley or whether you’re a loyal customer who has many cars in the garage already.”

Creating a data strategy

Before taking on the CDO role last year, Moore put together a paper to show the board how his central data office would build on the progress already made towards digitisation. The paper also demonstrated how he intended to pursue a data-led digital transformation journey as part of the wider Beyond100 business strategy.

Moore built his data strategy around four core pillars: governance; the data cloud, which is the technology stack required to use data effectively; the data dojo, which is his internal data literacy programme; and enablement, which focuses on how the data team works with different areas of the business.

“I accelerated some of the things I was already doing,” he says, before focusing on his data literacy programme. “One of the things from the digitalisation department was that I’d already started a future digital pipeline of talent. That pipeline takes people from school and puts them through professional degrees as degree apprentices.”

Moore says the data programme, which is in its fifth year, is now “laser-focused” on data science. Paid apprentices spend 20% of their time at university and 80% at Bentley. He’s worked with different parts of the business to ensure these apprenticeships are focused on challenges that create value for the organisation.

As well as developing apprentices, Moore has boosted the internal data science capability by bringing external hires into the company. Together, his staff work on data challenges – and, right now, the key issue is ensuring data across a range of organisational sources is accessible and available.

“I was looking for a flexible middle layer, that is future-proof as well, and which allows us to bring in other technology,” he says. “There is always a challenge internally of either overselling or not having the use cases for a business platform. The whole data stack is an investment. You need to ask, ‘What value are you looking to gain from it?’”

Prioritising data quality

The question about investment value led Moore and his team to consider technologies that could help the business achieve its long-term aims. As part of the data strategy, Moore took the business through a platform procurement process and selected the Snowflake Data Cloud.

Bentley is using Snowflake’s technology to bring enterprise information together. One of the key factors fuelling his decision-making process was that Bentley is eager to pursue a multicloud approach. This flexible approach means the business can pick and choose the cloud-based services its runs on demand.

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Moore says making the shift to the cloud involves overcoming a cultural challenge, especially in a large-scale enterprise such as Bentley, which has historically relied on an on-premise data warehouse. Functions across the business are now exploring how they can best use data as part of the firm’s multicloud approach.

“We’ve moved from an on-premise data warehouse, which had served its purpose and had a certain amount of technical debt associated to it,” he says.

The objective now is to ensure that people within the company find it easy to work with enterprise information in a safe, effective and joined-up manner.

“Let’s take the example of data quality, which is very important to Bentley. We should all be reporting on the same data. So, if I’m reporting in a particular manufacturing area, that cut of the data should stack up to what we report to the top level as well,” he says.

“The sum of the parts shouldn’t come up with a very different number. Success is about creating the same data top to bottom and making it accessible. Because high-quality data is also interesting to purchasing, to engineering and to other areas of the business as well.”

Embracing emerging technology

Further pressure for change comes from emerging technology. Moore recognises that the widespread use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) means everyone in the business will require some understanding of digital and data.

“AI seems to be the hot topic everywhere,” he says. “I’m very much of the opinion that we have to get the basics right. We have to walk before we can run. We have to get that foundation layer right first.”

“AI seems to be the hot topic everywhere. I’m very much of the opinion that we have to get the basics right. We have to walk before we can run. We have to get that foundation layer right first”
Andy Moore, Bentley Motors

However, Moore also recognises the pace of change due to the introduction of AI and ML will continue to quicken. It’s his role as CDO to ensure these developments are monitored closely by Bentley and exploited when the times and conditions are right.

OpenAI is dominating all the headlines at the minute, but several other developments are close behind. Internet search engines will use AI and large language models. Natural language interfaces will be used in software by default. And those who work in programming will use Copilot and other co-creation tools,” he says.

“AI will come to be present in a lot of tools without people even realising it. For a lot of people in the business, AI will just be present in in the background and it will be there for you.”

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