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Becoming A Data Driven Organisation - Fergal Mcdonnell, Regional VP Emea North & Mea, Talend

Recently we had the privilege to interview Fergel McDonnell, Regional Vice President EMEA North & MEA at Talend. In the interview, among several topics we discussed how organisations can become more data driven, the importance of bridging the gap between IT and Business, and what should organisations have in mind when starting their Big Data projects. Talend is represented in the Nordics as well, and you can meet them on Data Innovation Summit 2017.
Q:Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

Fergel: I joined Talend in November 2015 as a Regional Vice President EMEA North & MEA. In this role, I am responsible for driving the geographic expansion of the company into new countries across EMEA, including establishing new offices, implementing a combination of direct and channel strategy, and reinforcing Talend’s partnership network, as well as furthering the company’s leadership in real-time big data. 

Prior to joining Informatica in 2007, I worked at Iona/Progress where I developed the firm’s business and OEM relationships in continental Europe. I earned a bachelor of sciences degree in management with honors from Trinity College, Dublin, completed post-graduate work in marketing techniques at Dublin Institute of Technology, and have a certificate in Software Engineering, from Griffith College Dublin.
Fergal Mcdonnell
Q:Tell us a bit about Talend and some interesting examples on how do you help organisations excel in this area?

Fergel:Talend is a next generation leader in big data and cloud integration solutions that helps companies become data driven by making data more accessible, improving its quality and quickly moving information where it’s needed for real-time decision making. By simplifying big data through these steps, Talend enable companies to act with insight based on accurate, real-time information about their business, customers, and industry. Talend’s innovative open-source solutions quickly and efficiently collect, prepare and combine data from thousands of sources allowing companies to optimize it for any aspect of their business – from identifying fraud to improving customer service.- Air France-KLM – “Catering to each and every traveler”- ICIJ – “Revolutionizing investigative journalism with open data”- Lenovo – “Having the 360° view of the customer”- UNOS – “Making life-saving organ transplants possible each day”

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is the private, non-profit organization that manages the nation’s organ transplant system under contract with the federal government. On average 22 people die each day while waiting for a transplant. There is a lack of donors. Making better use of organs is a challenge. Using Talend Big Data, transplant centers can now see the potential outcome of the organs they did not accept so they can analyze why they turned them down, why they were successfully used by other centers, and whether or not they should consider using them in the future.

Q:From your perspective what are the biggest or the most common hinders or challenges, organisations face when it comes to building a data-driven organisation? 

Fergel:According to a recent survey Talend conducted of its own user base—comprised largely of GLOBAL 1000 customers—the strained relationship between IT and the business is the biggest hurdle to their organization becoming data driven with 35 percent of respondents indicating this was their biggest challenge. Notably, this relationship gap was more of an obstacle than either budget (23 percent) or having suitable skills, which was only seen as a challenge by 16 percent of respondents. 

In the same survey, when asked which of the following was the highest priority for their organization, IT decision makers showed a fairly even split between data governance (37%), data quality (33%) and self-service (31%). 

Hand-coding: According to the same survey, nearly half of IT decision makers (44%) indicate that up to 25 percent of their current data integration or data preparation projects still include some form of custom code. 

Many organizations think they can do it themselves, at a lower cost with manual coding, but there are limitations.

Q:What would be your recommendation for those organisations that just started their Big Data projects?

Fergel:Big Data is not just about the technology, you also need to factor in the business and people dimensions to make Big Data projects successful. Following are a few key suggestions:

- Develop a solid big data strategy, including specific information governance.

Organizations that are adopting big data initiatives need to establish a holistic strategy to guide the process. This includes information governance, data security, quality, standardization, and life cycle management. Define the data and process owners according to their business areas of expertise.

-  Define KPIs to better align business and IT with executive sponsorship.

Big data projects should be driven by business to insure tight integration with and usage by the relevant business process owners. Start with the desired business outcomes. Only by providing value to the business can big data professionals effectively team with business partners to drive executive sponsorship.

- Integrate the results into the business processes.

Don't run big data projects as standalone initiatives, such as relying solely on a tiny group of data scientists. For maximum impact and success, feed the results of your analysis directly into your business processes so business users can make better decisions based on that information.

- Get the right expertise on board from day one.
Consider internal and external expertise, alternative deployment options and business models (e.g., cloud versus on-premises). More so than other analytics technologies, big data analytics needs the right skills to ensure not only high quality data, but also the appropriate models that will produce the accurate data output for various business scenario forecasts. Companies need to build, acquire, or involve external support to ensure that the appropriate skills are on board for successful predictive analytics projects from the very beginning.

-  Pick the right technologies. 

By selecting and implementing the right data integration tools, you can not only effectively leverage existing skills, infrastructure and investments, but also have the agility to implement new business innovations as they arise and/or business needs change.

Q:How big part technology plays in this?

Fergel: As the US Chamber of Commerce poetically stated in its presentation on ‘Data Driven Innovation,’ “Data is a resource. Much like water or energy, and like any other resource, data does nothing on its own. Rather, it can only be world-changing depending upon how it is employed by humans for decision making.” 
Even the savviest digital leaders recognize that they need to blend the right people, processes, and technology in order to increase the strategic value of their data. Technology alone can’t make companies more successful. It takes strong leaders to help create a culture of making data a strategic asset for the company, infusing it into every step of a decision making process, and delivering the business agility needed to remain ahead in today’s competitive marketplace. 

The collaboration between the IT and the business is key in making any data driven initiative a success. Business has to be part of the process as at the end of the day they are the ones making decisions based upon the data. Q:Considering the amount of data, the technology available, the competence and the new/old processes in place, where do you see the biggest impact of Big Data and data-driven innovation? 

Fergel: We are seeing some innovative IoT and real-time use cases among our customers to provide new types of products and services including:
- Connected cars: wejo is a pioneering provider of location-based ‘smart driving’ services. wejo wants to revolutionize the automotive industry using real-time big data, telematics and mobile technology.
By building a Modern Data Architecture based on the Cloud, wejo is able to integrate big data streams and send targeted notifications to app users and real-time insights to businesses.
- Smart cities: Veolia Water France is specialized in the distribution and the treatment of water, they serve 23 million people. To help customers make the most of their water resources, Veolia launched a digital transformation project and moved to the cloud. With a real-time view of the water pipeline network, technicians equipped with mobile solutions are able to respond faster to incidents and meet community service level agreements (SLAs). Veolia is also able to get a single and shared view of its 11,000+ customer contracts and 4,500+ production and processing units.

Q:Looking at the data-driven innovation from technology point of view, what can we expect in the next 12 months.

Fergel:   In order to continue to deliver data agility to modern business, we are investing more in:- Cloud –to enable customers to benefit from the elasticity and scale of the Cloud- Real-time –to be able to respond faster to market dynamics- Self-service –to further empower the business and enable IT & business collaboration.

Copyrights © 2017 Inspiration Unlimited eMagazine


Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 6th April 2017.

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