Technology Transformation & The Strategic C-Suite
June 29, 2023 | London
C-suite executives need to evolve if they want to excel in a business environment increasingly marked by market disruption, geopolitical uncertainty and faster technological advances. We brought together industry leaders to discuss strategies for a transformational mindset and the tools needed to create robust, efficient and effective outcomes throughout an organization.
- Jonathan Wright, Global Managing Partner, IBM
- Rudolf Basson, Chief Financial Officer, Digital Industries, Siemens
- Ed Briggs, Chief Financial Officer, Digital, BT Group
- Bruno Corasolla, Global Head of Digital Trains, Hitachi Rail
- Jennifer Kested, Associate Partner, Global Finance Transformation, EMEA Lead, IBM
- Sachin Kumar, EMEA FSCT Consulting & BPO Leader, IBM
- Gary Kotovets, Chief Data & Analytics Officer, Dun & Bradstreet
- Storm Fagan, Chief Product Officer, BBC
- Tim Gude, Senior Vice President, Digital Finance & Finance Strategy, Volkswagen
- Jo Riseborough, Group Data Management Director, Lloyds Banking Group
- Mallika Kapur, Deputy Global Editor, Bloomberg Live Experiences
- Ruth David, London Bureau Chief, Bloomberg
- Amy Thomson, Technology Team Leader, EMEA, Bloomberg
Jonathan Wright, Global Managing Partner, IBM revealed that productivity is the number one focus for CEOs right now, followed by ‘tech modernisation’, according to an IBM report published this week. The winners will be those who adopt generative AI and see it as part of the solution.
Wright said, “I’ve no doubt that generative AI is here to stay and we’ve all got to embrace it,” but added that there’s an obligation to use it the right way. He also noted that people who drive digitisation and sustainability enjoy 20 per cent higher revenues and margins.
Harnessing a Data Explosion
Rudolf Basson, Chief Financial Officer, Digital Industries, Siemens, said he believes that the pandemic helped digitisation and its acceptance. He also noted that cybersecurity remains a fundamental necessity and believes it should be built into products, corporate ethics and data management. He told the audience that Siemens’ approach has been to use ChatGPT locally within the company, so that data goes in and doesn’t ‘fly out’.
Ed Briggs, Chief Financial Officer, Digital, BT Group, commented that BT already uses existing data in a responsible way to allocate staff time, plan a network, identify new business opportunities, and better understand how to serve customers. He further said that sustainability is huge, and generative AI can help to reduce different interventions in coding, which, combined with other measures, can reduce requirements on data centers. He observed that structured data is becoming less important as AI continues to learn and manage how to use unstructured data.
Bruno Corasolla, Global Head of Digital Trains, Hitachi Rail, admitted that his organization has yet to use generative AI, except for in a few research projects. He agreed, however, that it presents an opportunity to reduce costs and human error, while improving quality and making data more widely available.
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Finance transformation needs to be embedded across an entire organization, said Sachin Kumar, EMEA FSCT Consulting & BPO Leader, IBM. When this happens it drives value for the organization, revenue growth and an entire gamut of activities.
Jennifer Kested, Associate Partner, Global Finance Transformation, EMEA Lead, IBM, said we have to look at four levers; data, processes underpinning technologies, the people involved, and the global harmonization of any processes being touched by that technology.
Sachin pondered how to integrate non-financial information with financial information to create an engine of OPEX reduction and growth. He proposed that data-led innovation is the perfect segue into driving OPEX reduction.
Using Data to Drive Growth
To keep data safe, Gary Kotovets, Chief Data & Analytics Officer, Dun & Bradstreet, believes that the right technological infrastructure and regulatory compliance framework must be in place. This principle must also extend to business suppliers and the wider perimeter, “You have to worry not just about yourself, but also your surroundings”.
In terms of market talent, Kotovets said he sees a shift, with tech and science boot camps training people from a wide variety of different backgrounds. As these candidates come out with “good experience” and at a faster rate, people are hiring them.
Kotovets also suggested that the credit market and investment space is tightening. Valuations are different than in previous years, and funding is a little harder to come by, even if generative AI drives lower costs. His biggest challenge remains navigating regulations and understanding the intricacies of each particular law and rule – both existing and new ones.
Focused on the Future
The strategy at the BBC is to become a ‘digital-first organization’ said Storm Fagan, Chief Product Officer, BBC. A key challenge is keeping up with the pace of innovation around data, its management, and the regulatory landscape.
“AI is going to result in a data explosion,” said Jo Riseborough, Group Data Management Director, Lloyds Banking Group. Due to this, we must have a clear understanding of any unfairness and bias in data sources. However, she believes there will always be a ‘human element’ needed for checking data sources.
ChatGPT was the tipping point for AI, said Storm. As a news organization, the concern around misinformation requires them to be able to prove authenticity. They are looking at how to verify watermarks, with blockchain one way to achieve this. Finally, she said that the BBC has also introduced ‘ethical impact assessments’ in data use cases.
Using data for the purpose it’s intended, and ensuring it is not misused, is absolutely crucial, concluded Riseborough. In terms of unstructured data, retention of information is key, only holding onto it as long as necessary and regularly reviewing retention periods.
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