Creating new revenue streams by transforming data into new products and services is the holy grail for any CDO, and sometimes just as hard to obtain. In this interview, David Gonzalez, Group Head of Big Data & AI for Vodafone Business and one of the speakers at the Data Leaders World Congress, takes us through their approach to successful external data monetisation through:

  • Close collaboration with Sales
  • Clear focus on scalability
  • Prioritising productisation over customer delivery

External monetization of a company’s data is the ultimate goal for any CDO, but as we’ve seen time and again, it’s a journey strewn with technical complexities and political pitfalls.

Telco companies, like Vodafone, are generally ahead of the curve in this area. So, what is the secret to their success?

“Building trust with sales is essential.”

Gonzalez is crystal clear on one thing: “Building trust with sales is essential. They are our entry point entry into our clients and know what is happening in the business, what our clients value about us, and what they are looking for.”

Sales plays a crucial role throughout the Vodafone Business’ data monetization journey that they approach through four phases: ideation and co-creation, market opportunity assessment, feasibility study and, finally, productisation and customer delivery.

With the exception of feasibility, Sales is heavily involved in every phase, taking the lead in assessing the market opportunity by gathering feedback from the client base on their appetite for proposed new products. Gonzalez sees this as fundamental: “If we don’t have clients that are willing to pay for those services, it doesn’t make any sense to invest.”

The opposite can also be the case; customers turn out to be starving hungry for the enhancement and Sales are quick to sign contracts before productisation has even begun. While there’s no better validation, delivering a not-yet developed product adds complexity in the final phase of development that needs to be adeptly managed through clear prioritisation.

Consider how you will scale, both from a technical and legal perspective.

Before development begins, a feasibility study and sizing of effort must be completed that looks at the availability and quality of data needed, and the level of investment required to develop the product, especially if it is destined for global deployment. The ability to work from a common platform and with relatively uniform data formats across markets is a major enabler in developing new products at scale.

In parallel, the legal angle must be covered to ensure that everything developed is GDPR compliant, privacy by design, and complies with local data privacy laws.

Value is created through scalability.

As the product moves into its final development phase, Gonzalez advocates for efforts to be focused on productisation over customer delivery. For a recent project, the team split its efforts 70% on productisation, standardisation and innovation and 30% on delivery of signed customers. The early phases initially rely heavily on manual intervention, but with an MVP in place, the focus can switch to developing an automated end-to-end framework that enables scalability. “This is where the value comes. If you can deliver a project in days, it’s a big difference versus your competition who may need several weeks or even months.”

The approach has paid off for Gonzalez’s Big Data team. They were able to have an MVP in place in less than 6 months from the end of ideation, and since then have signed 40-50 customers new customers.

Complexities are a hindrance and a blessing.

As for complexities along the way, Gonzalez sees them as both a hindrance and a blessing. Technical migrations, such as moving from one cloud platform to another, mean having to carefully manage priorities, but also bring new functionalities to improve your own processes. Lost deals to competitors are a disappointment but bring the chance to incorporate win/loss feedback into enhancing the product.

Overall, he sees the process as one that creates tremendous value: “The application and value that Big Data can bring is huge. [As a company] we’re helping a lot of public administration with different solutions like mobility or Smart Tourism or transport planning – even in the fight against COVID. It’s a very interesting and beautiful area where every use case you can think of is going to bring value.”

This attitude and expertise in unleashing Big Data’s potential is why the European Commission has invited Gonzalez to join a select group of 20 experts to drive the future of the EU’s digital economy and society, and why we look forward to having him speak at Data Leaders Global Congress this coming October.

Hear more from David, and speakers from L’Oréal, IBM, Lego, Cambridge Analytica, Vodafone and many others at the Data Leaders World Congress.

Tap into a plethora of voices sharing practical and powerful solutions to help you and your organisation reach its full potential with data.

Exclusive! Book your ticket using the code “better-data-20” for 20% discount on all the tickets!

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