Chief Data Officer now a must for Financial Services

01 June 2015

The need for businesses to engage with Big Data and deal with compliance issues within fields strewn with data has risen starkly over the past decade. However, without clear leadership in both areas, information management often remains fragmented, and thereby introduces the risk of not complying or missing valuable insights. To combat this, the Chief Data Officer may come to have a must-have role within organisations, research by Capgemini and Efma shows.

With increasing levels of digitalisation, and with financial firms needing to collect and control more and more information for regulatory and strategic reasons, the role of data has in recent years become a strategic necessity for financial organisations. With the positive value brought out by careful information management purported to boost returns in operational efficiency, risk and price management, customer experience and identifying new business models.

Big data opportunities in Financial Services Sector

In a recent report from Capgemini and Efma, titled ‘Stewarding Data: Why Financial Services Firms Need a Chief Data Officer’, the value of Big Data and of Chief Data Officers (CDOs) to businesses, is explored, with CDOs playing a role in both compliance as the exploitation of Big Data.

Role in compliance and Big Data
The cost for not engaging with the compliance issues relating to digital information transfers can be considerable. Between 2008 and 2013, banks in the US paid more than $100 billion in penalties and settlements. As more and more legislation is introduced that requires at least some level of data management, or information that in many organisations is siloed, compliance can be an issue, with 54% of surveyed companies surveyed not having robust processes to manage data quality.

Impact of Big Data on Financial Services sector

Capgemini finds that engaging with Big Data is too seen as an increasingly critical issue for businesses, with 79% of Financial Services executives believing that the ability to extract value from Big Data is an important factor in their future success. Three out of four (75%) even say that not leveraging Big Data can lead to becoming uncompetitive, with a 57% feeling the heat from data exploiting start-ups.

One of the key challenges for Big Data implementation, as cited by 50% of executive surveyed, is the ineffective coordination of Big Data analytics teams hampering the leveraging of business decision relevant information. Almost half (48%) of Financial Services teams are operating with scattered analytics teams operating independently and without central oversight or vision.

Effective management of information is key particularly to the success of Big Data initiatives, as is shown by the research. 43% of companies with a CDO running Big Data analytics within an organisation garnered considerably improved performance rates in the success of their Big Data initiatives, compared to 31% for organisations that lacked such an officer.

CDO appointments by industry sector

CDO in practice
While the value of the CDO to an organisation is justifiable in improved compliance and data analytics, the uptake of CDO roles within organisations still remains relatively low. Only 16% of Financial Services players now have an active CDO, while 15% of Oil & Gas suppliers having such a role and 14% of Engineering firms. The role of CDO is the least pronounced in the Utilities sector at 7%, followed by Media and Public Services, both at 9%.

To meet compliance and data management standards, and to exploit the information contained in the Big Data caches that many financial services companies live with, the role of CDO can be invaluable in dealing with both areas – by overseeing siloed information and bringing together analytics capacities. However, the report too notes that often CDOs will be given either a role in data management or in data analytics (process oriented or value oriented CDOs) – where a mandate to run both functional areas may be more effective.


Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

17 April 2019

Soft skills matter in the workplace just as much as technical expertise, writes Samantha Caine, Managing Director of Business Linked Teams.

For too long technical expertise has been seen as the marker of a strong candidate for development into a sales or leadership position. Sales and leadership candidates are tasked with demonstrating a diverse and wide-ranging set of technical skills, yet their aptitude in these technical skills or ‘hard skills’ cannot signify great leadership potential. This is why a healthy balance of soft skills and technical ability is required. 

So what exactly is the difference between technical skills and soft skills? In engineering, it’s crucial to demonstrate knowledge of physics as well as a strong grasp on mathematical equations. Yet, in any industry, it’s important for leaders to be able to interact with other people effectively with soft skills like communication, empathy and adaptability. 

Business Linked Team’s 2018 study into internal leadership development revealed that 69% of large organisations are prioritising the identification and development of future leaders from within the workforce. As more and more organisations begin to invest in sales or leadership development within their existing workforces, more focus needs to be placed on ensuring the right soft skills are in place. 

With those soft skills in place throughout the workforce, the business will benefit from a wider pool of potential leaders developing under their noses, and it should be the same where sales candidates are concerned. 

It’s not just about easier access to ideal candidates for these positions without the rigmarole of recruiting from outside of the organisation. The leadership development study also found that 89% of HR decision makers say succession planning has become a top priority. Those currently serving in leadership positions can’t lead forever and the same goes for those generating sales for the business.

Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

From people leaving for new opportunities or retirement, to people simply stepping aside to focus on other areas of the business, successful leaders and salespeople require experienced and capable successors that will be ready and able to confidently step into their shoes and pick up the mantle without the business experiencing any lapse in performance.

Soft skills make stronger candidates

When it comes to the soft skills required, a strong leader must be able to manage through clear communication and effective time management, coaching and goal setting. They must be able to demonstrate empathy and empower their teams to be successful, productive and fully engaged. And beyond simply giving direction, they must also be able to take direction from those above them and cascade the business strategy down through their teams. 

A strong sales candidate must possess the ability to communicate value to the customer, negotiate well and protect margin or the ability to increase the scope of a particular sales opportunity. 

With the relevant soft skills in place, the business will benefit from increased productivity, greater agility against changing market conditions and greater transparency. In turn, this will provide visibility on issues and inefficiencies while removing opportunity for miscommunication. All of this can transform the culture of a department, improving employee satisfaction and reducing staff turnover. 

Ultimately, developing leadership or sales candidates will require the business to strike the right balance between technical skills and soft skills, and this requires an effective and sustained learning journey.

A balanced learning journey

Facilitating and supporting the development of leadership and sales is best achieved by establishing training groups. By cultivating training groups, businesses are creating talent pools that will inspire and support each other on the learning journey. However, personal goals and learning objectives must be defined for each individual based on their own existing skillsets and the skills that each individual needs to develop. 

With the emergence of e-learning, businesses recognise the value of online-based learning activities, yet many make the mistake of opting for one-size-fits-all solutions which are solely focused on self-study. A development solution will only deliver true return on investment if it combines e-learning activities with group learning activities that provide opportunity for shared experiences and support.

A blended learning solution that combines self-study and face-to-face group learning activities will aid strong development of the talent pool through shared experiences. Through these shared experiences, those undergoing the training will organically develop a support network that supports the development of the group as much as it supports the development of each individual. 

The blended learning approach is supported by one of the seven principles of human learning that socially supported interactions aid the individual development of expertise, metacognitive skills, and formation of the learner’s sense of self. The strongest opportunities for development can be unlocked by blending workshops with online activities such as virtual sessions, peer coaching, self-study, online games and business simulations. But it’s crucial to provide a blend of one-to-one and group sessions too.

Beyond delivering a better learning outcome for the employee, the blended learning approach allows organisations to adapt their training quickly and easily to shifting business demands in an ever-changing landscape.