Three questions with Enterprise World keynote speaker Lori Bieda: data, analytics and action

Lori Bieda, BMO
Lori Bieda, VP for Business Analytics and Insights at the Bank of Montreal

We are proud to announce that Lori Bieda, Head of the Analytics Centre of Excellence at Bank of Montreal (Canada), will be giving the Analytics track keynote speech at Enterprise World this year.

Bieda has deep insights into the role of analytics in business, with particular expertise in the sales and marketing functions. In a career spanning more than 20 years, Bieda has helped Fortune 500 companies in a wide range of industries, including finance, telecom, technology, retail, health care, and manufacturing build their business through the strategic use of customer data and analytics.

Her presentation will be Wednesday, July 12, at 4:15 p.m. in the John W.H. Bassett Theatre. Don’t miss it!  She will discuss the world of business analytics, how the technology has helped transform business, and the progress companies are making to better understand the customer journey.         

Recently Bieda sat down with Stannie Holt of the OpenText Analytics marketing team to answer Three Questions about analytics.

Q1: How did you get started in analytics, and how have you seen the technology for gathering and analyzing data change over the years?

Lori Bieda: Twenty years ago, when I started my career in sales and marketing, I was helping companies set up some of the earliest customer loyalty programs. We faced a lot of questions around where to invest. Questions like: Which customers were our best ones, which ad executions worked, what markets should we exploit … and the truth was, I didn’t always know.  So, I went searching for data to help me make good decisions.

Back in the ‘90s, the tools we had were pretty basic, and cumbersome to get at. Our data was raw and spotty. We were operating off relational databases, our analytics were inelegant, and our insights, like our data, were in islands with no cohesive view of the customer or business.

As the industry matured, we started to understand a bit more about the power in the data, but the capability to see and understand it was still concentrated in the hands of a precious few. Fast forward to now, and the world is having a love affair with data and analytics as they becoming available to the masses.

It’s amazing to see what’s happened, not only in the last couple of decades, but even in the last few years. What we have available to us now to make business decisions is incredible compared to prior years. Data and analytics is faster. It’s broader. It’s cheaper. It’s more consumable to the masses. The ability to manage and consume massive amounts of data and extract insights from it is greater than it’s ever been. And it’s awesome!

The goal has always been to get a 360-degree view of your customer in an aggregated CIF [customer information file]. That used to take companies years to achieve. Now, you can spin up 90 terabytes of data in a Hadoop infrastructure in a few months and have a great bricks-to-clicks understanding of your customer. In fact, given the decreasing cost of technology today, companies can become instantly competitive on account of how accessible technology is.

I think it’s a very exciting time to start any kind of small business, because you’re not shackled by outdated infrastructure, the way many of us were 10 or 15 years ago when we were setting up traditional databases and had to figure out how to stitch it all together.

But it’s not just about collecting ever-larger pools of data. You can get lost that way.  You need the pairing of good technology with good people and the propensity to ACT on what you have learned. And you need some really smart analytic solutions that not only can aggregate your data very rapidly for you, but surface the insights and help you make the connections in the data.

I always see the world in three layers: Data, analytics, and action. One is not useful without the other.

Q2: What are the business benefits of having this kind of analytic insight?

You can’t run a good business without analytics. It’s the foundation that helps companies differentiate themselves in a world that is largely becoming commoditized.

There are three dominant business drivers of any business: client experience, revenue, and cost. Analytics helps you tap into the power of all three.

As businesses we need to pinpoint the specific opportunities in our information faster and better than the competition, in order to release potential, and that opportunity exists in our data.

Q3: Are there particular industries or roles that can particularly benefit from analytics?

I have worked across multiple industries – financial services, telecom, retail, insurance, to name a few – around the world, and I cannot think of an industry where it is NOT a good idea to be smarter with the resources that you have. That means companies of the future have no choice but to invest very heavily in analytics to accomplish their business goals.

Whether you’re working on behalf of shareholders, not-for-profit, or a government agency we are all trying to leverage information to make better business decisions. Analytics is the agent that does that.

In my industry, consumer banking, the market has pretty much reached parity. That is, we’re all competing with similar products and services, facing common cost structures.  So, if we want to differentiate ourselves, it comes down to how well we cater to client needs. And that depends on how thoroughly we connect and leverage all the data we collect through our various products and channels.

And although banks have certainly been at the leading edge of analytics innovation, we see innovation in multiple sectors – from online e-tail, to cyber security in the government space, to how the transportation sector is transforming the world into the driverless car.

Innovation comes in various shapes and forms. I’m impressed to see what’s happened in the world around artificial intelligence, and how smart software has become, embedding real-time data feeds and decision-making into our daily lives.  It will forever change analytics and our ability to consume and act on the barrage of data that we have access to.

These technology advances have come at a crucial time. The right time. We face a global drought on analytical talent, and technology needs to do more of the heavy lifting than historically it has, automating some of the crucial decisions that businesses make.

Whether you’re a data and analytics practitioner, or a business person – it’s a great time to fall in love with the power of data.

Stannie Holt

Stannie Holt is a Marketing Content Writer at OpenText. She has over 20 years' experience as a journalist, market research analyst, and content marketing expert in the fields of enterprise business software, machine learning, e-discovery, and analytics.

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