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Sometimes defined as the most important tech trend since the 1990s, data is bound to keep playing an increasingly strategic role over the current decade. 

Di Mayze, Global Head of Data and AI at WPP,  takes us on a journey to explore how data will help shape society over the next ten years.

In her interview, she will present her work on 2030 data landscape, which covers:

  • A new approach to data culture
  • Ethics and environmental awareness in data
  • The importance of democratisation

Despite a complicated 2020, the focus on data continues to grow. As Data Leaders have reported before, more CEOs are placing a spotlight on data and analytics teams than ever before. In Di’s opinion, these current events are just the beginning of a significant shift data will experience in the mid-term.

According to Di, the coming years will observe substantial changes across four main areas:

1. Data verse

In Di’s words, we are currently moving from a digital revolution into a data one. As data becomes more and more embedded into the fabric of our society, a change of perspective is also necessary. With the growing concerns for the climate change and increased focus on sustainability, the general awareness of the environmental impact of data also grows. Not for nothing, IDC predicts volumes of new data generated will grow 5 times compared to 2018, reaching 175zettabytes by 2025. On the one hand, it will prompt stronger focus towards efficient data storage and environmental taxes, but on the other hand data will cease to be a volume game.

2. Data as decision-maker

The mantra of our decade is all about moving away from too much data and too little insight. Di anticipates a surge in collaboration across departments in an effort to source sustainable data. What’s more, she believes the focus is moving past providing goods and services and into making a bigger contribution to society as a whole. In Di’s view, this era will be all about ethical handling of data, making data an enabler of the greater good. Stricter boundaries for the disclosure of personal information will be set, along with a clear differentiation between personal and intimate data. Humanisation will push us away from over-complicated buzzwords and towards making data actionable and digestible for the people interacting with it.

3. Rebalancing control

Di sustains that the forces at play will balance each other by a spirit of reciprocity. As companies start to reward the behaviour they seek, consumers enjoy the benefits of increased personalisation and rewards in exchange for their data. To this aim, trust will also play an important role. This becomes especially relevant given that, by 2030, surveillance is expected to involve all aspects of life. Di suggests that increasing transparency and simplifying terms and conditions are a great step in the direction of gaining consumer trust.

4. Professionalisation of data profession

According to Di, data and analytics is on a similar story arc to the one we witnessed with digitalisation. She predicts that, over the next decade, Chief Data Officers (CDOs) will take over some or most of the CEO functions. Data literacy will take centre stage in boardrooms and become an element of many job descriptions. Data democratisation will also bring out the more human side of this discipline. Di envisions the triumph of storytelling over spreadsheets and a shift from “behind the stage” tools to empathetic conversational exchanges and knowledge-sharing. With data gaining traction alongside AI and automation, the professional landscape may be reshaped and new creative professions may arise. 

Di stresses that the above principles all revolve around one main concept: the humanisation of data. In her opinion, the current decade will be about connecting with the people behind the data and fostering a sense of trust. This will be achieved by collecting only the strictly necessary information for the sake of people’s privacy and the future of the planet. 

Data Leaders members can watch the full interview here. Would like to become a member? Get in touch!

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THE AUTHOR

Laura Bineviciute

The global Peer-advisory community for chief data officers and their teams

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