Guild Contributor:

Enrique Méndez, Edrington

Enrique Méndez, Edrington

Chief Data & Analytics Officer, Edrington

We, as data leaders, are responsible to ensure that there’s a clear connection between our strategic objectives and anything we do with data.

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Laura Bineviciute, Head of Community Data Leaders

Enrique Méndez, Chief Data & Analytics Officer, Edrington

Laura Bineviciute: I am joined by Enrique Méndez, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Edrington. Hello, Enrique.

Enrique Méndez: Hi, how are you?

Laura Bineviciute: I’m good. Thank you so much for joining us to have this quick chat. Before we dive straight into the meaty parts of data and analytics and role of a CDO, can you tell us a little bit more about out what your role is at Edrington and how does data and analytics look at your business? Thank you.

Enrique Méndez: Yes, absolutely, Laura, thanks again for having me. I can quickly start by giving you a flavour of what my role is. My role as Chief Data and Analytics officer is relatively new in the organisation, but it is a significant step in the organisation taking data, I would say, more seriously and given it its fair amount of importance.

So, what this means in practise is that we have identified groups of individuals within the organisation who are data rich. Applications like ERP, applications like data science, applications like our planning tools, our production tools, where, given the amount of data that is produced, it made sense to bring teams together to work on common goals, to simplify the access to the insights that could be derived from that data, to increase our data literacy as well to increase our data stewardship or data governance, and to maximise the opportunities on advanced analytics, which in our case is more prescriptive analytics.

Laura Bineviciute: Great, thank you. Let’s look a little bit broader into the role of the CDO, which is of course the focus of the Data Leaders Guild Think Tank this year 2024, but also every year, really, it’s very much about the role of the CDO. In your mind, what are the biggest opportunities that CDOs have in the coming twelve months?

Enrique Méndez: I would say that one of our main opportunities is to be driving the agenda and influencing senior stakeholders to accept that something needs to be done around data. So that means having discussions with relevant senior stakeholders, whether it’s C-suite or their peers or people at the next level, explaining what the events that we hear in the news all the time are actually manifesting themselves in our day-to-day operations, and how we can, by working more collaboratively and not looking at only what we’ve always looked in technology, which is people, processes and technology, but also data these day; how by looking at those four elements, data, people, process and technology, we can identify better ways of working that enable our strategic goals.

Laura Bineviciute: You’ve mentioned that part of it is, in fact, explaining the things that are in the news and bringing it into the context of a business. Do you feel like popularisation of AI or LLMs more specifically, I guess, in the past year helps or hinders CDOs?

Enrique Méndez: I’m an optimistic on that, Laura, and I would say that it helps because two years ago, before the ChatGPTs of this world, you had to fight, if you can say it that way, for a chance to talk about data, to talk about the importance of governance, to talk about GDPR, to talk about how we can monetize data. After ChatGPT and the influx of generative AI, everyone wants to have a chat with you, everyone wants to listen to what you have to say. So, if anything, we should use this opportunity to educate our colleagues, to educate our organisations, and to bring the relevant processes to maximise our biggest asset, which at the moment is the data we hold on our customers, consumers, employees and so forth, to deliver our strategic goals.

Laura Binevicuite: We have agreed that we’ll explore a little bit more the data-engaged organisation aspect, one of the three key areas that we will be addressing at the Data Leaders Guild. Tell me a little bit more about what a data-engaged organisation or what does data engagement look like in your mind and what have been your learnings so far when working towards this goal that is very much on the horizon for many?

Enrique Méndez: Certainly, Laura, I would say that since I started working, the goals of either selling more or being more profitable or reducing cost and reducing waste have not really changed. They’re still imperatives of any business and it is the imperative of our business identifying more opportunities to sell and identifying more opportunities, in our case, to craft exceptional products with sustainability at heart.

Laura Binevicuite: So, if that hasn’t really changed, what has really changed is the recognition that data can enable and can support, and in some cases could be at the heart of innovation in this new world.

Enrique Méndez: My view on a data-engaged organisation is one where those core objectives or outcomes, or the core vision that an organisation has, can be linked to data objectives. Data as an objective is not what we’re looking for, it’s how a particular initiative that we are performing or pursuing, let’s call it data quality, as such, having a better data quality or not will not give us more sales. But if we can link that by doing data quality and other elements, the process of getting to increase sales will be increased.

So, in summary, I would say that the value optimisation needs to be clear from the corporate objectives all the way to data initiatives. And we as data leaders are responsible to ensure that there’s a clear connection between those strategic objectives and anything we do with data. And if they’re not linked or are not simplifying those corporate objectives, then we should stop and not do it at all.

Laura Binevicuite: And is there a moment that you can recall where you were speaking with someone, or working with someone for a while, and you could see when something has changed in the conversation and the person or the people have realised the power of data, the power that data can bring to their roles?

Enrique Méndez: I’m fortunate enough to have seen those a number of times in the organisation since I started. And it’s been a gradual shift from being an organisation where perhaps decisions were taken by experience, by the individual that has done a particular job for 15, 20 years, and even individuals, what we call a decision driven by gut feel. I think more and more what I’m seeing is individuals asking for evidence, individuals asking for data to back up a particular course of action, and I have numerous examples of where that is happening. But the key driver has been day- to-day conversations where people are asking to see the evidence or see the data that backs up their decision.

Laura Binevicuite: Interesting. Very good. So, Enrique, of course, we’re here because you will be joining us at the Data Leaders Guild this June, and I would love to understand a little bit more. As someone who has attended Guild before, what do you think is the importance of CDOs getting into this small group with ability to exchange in a safe but somewhat provoking environment? Still, why do you think CDOs need to do this?

Enrique Méndez: If you’re surrounded by individuals offering advice, and that tends to be third parties, whether without mentioning names, it could be technology organisations offering you advice, and there are three or four out there that everybody knows, or whether it is a supplier giving you advice, or why this particular solution or technology will solve all your needs within your organisation. You will not have all the knowledge to make an informed decision other than trusting these technology organisations, but there’s an interest in them buying or selling services to you.

I think where Guild is probably most important to me is that most of the individuals I’m speaking to have similar challenges, whether it’s generative AI, how to introduce a responsible use of it within the organisation, whether it’s how to advance analytics, how to increase data governance, and all these topics that are relevant to all of us.

You’re having conversations with people that are facing the same challenges and they can share actual things happening to them, but we move away from the theory into the practise, and I think a leader in data needs both. They need to understand what the theory, what the experts, what the researchers say about a particular topic, but they need to ground their decisions on how people are actually performing or executing those pieces of advice. So that’s very useful in my case, to bounce ideas back from other peers going through similar challenges.

Laura Binevicuite: Great. Thank you for sharing that. To end our interview, we have a question that has been posed by another attendee, contributor of Guild, Timothy Chapman, from Stellantis. And he didn’t know that. He’s asking this question to you, but this is where it landed. Does your executive leadership recognise and appreciate that managed data is crucial to their success?

Enrique Méndez: Very good question, Laura. I would say that if I asked them on an individual basis, they would say yes, but they wouldn’t know how to quantify or point me to examples when that is actually happening. I think this is our role, data leaders, to make that, to bridge the gap of helping them navigate this ever changing world of technology, and to ensure that not so much data, but that efforts that are being performing data are very linked to strategic tips, so that when they get asked this question, they can say, what we’re doing on data management, on data classification, all these topics that might sound boring to a lot, there’s a correlation or a link to a strategic objective of the organisation.

Laura Binevicuite: I think this is going to be music to many CDOs ears, because it certainly is. I hear this direction and in this trajectory from many people that we discuss this with. Right. This connection between business value and what is happening with data, and how is data enabling the value that business receives or that business is seeking, and that we will certainly dive way deeper into at Guild itself, as well as in many other community conversations.

It’s a pleasure chatting with you, Enrique. I look forward to seeing you in Lisbon in June, and I’m sure we will have plenty more conversations about data-enabled organisation, and many other subjects as well, relating to data. Thank you so much for your time.

Enrique Méndez: Thank you, Laura, and looking forward seeing you and the rest of our colleagues in Lisbon this year.

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2024 Guild location:

Lisbon, Portugal.

2024 Guild dates:

20-21 June 2024.

Contact:

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