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Data and social housing, with Simon Benham
Episode 723rd May 2022 • Fibonacci, the Red Olive data podcast • Red Olive
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Today on Fibonacci, the Red Olive data podcast, we talk to Simon Benham, Head of Data Strategy at Catalyst Housing, one of the UK’s leading housing providers in London and the Home Counties. It is now part of the Peabody Group, responsible for 104,000 homes, with around 220,000 residents across London, Kent, Sussex and the Home Counties.

Simon’s background until he moved to Catalyst was in data governance in the finance sector. But is working in a housing association completely different, or does he face similar issues? 

Here are the topics we discuss with their timecodes:

  • The differences and similarities between the financial services and social housing sectors (55s)
  • How data can help deal with the shortage of affordable homes (3m 10s)
  • Getting data into one place and improving the quality of data (3m 30s)
  • Staying focussed and engaged while dealing with the background of a merger (4m 50s)
  • Dealing with the audit and risk committee (7m 30s)
  • Who to involve when planning a data project and ensuring data quality (12m 10s)
  • Biggest challenges and opportunities when using data in the housing space (15m 20s)
  • Understanding customers through data, leading to a better service (17m 37s)
  • Approaching the integration of two companies’ systems (19m 18s)
  • How to communicate best during a data project (21m 10s)
  • Challenging those who hide behind the GDPR (25m)
  • Using data to improve sustainability (27m)

Transcripts

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- Hello, and welcome to Fibonacci,

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the Red Olive Data Podcast,

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the podcast, all about data and analytics,

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where we hear from leading specialists

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and get their take on the industry.

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I'm your host, Nicky Rudd.

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Today I'm joined by Simon Benham,

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head of data strategy at Catalyst Housing,

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one of the UK's leading housing providers

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in London and the Home counties.

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And from the 1st of April,

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they'll we part of the Peabody Group

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responsible for 104,000 homes

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with around 220,000 residents across London,

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Kent, Sussex, and Home counties.

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Simon's background until he moved to Catalyst

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was in data governance in the finance sector.

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So is working as head of data and housing association

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completely different or does he face similar issues?

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Join me as our chat to Simon

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about how data can be the driver

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for new sustainable living solutions in the housing sector

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and the importance of data quality,

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the right level of governance and regulation reporting.

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Let's find out more.

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(upbeat music)

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Let's start with your background.

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So your background in finance

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and the then the move to housing,

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how is the industry focus switch gone?

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And were there any sort of great learnings

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that you've bought from one industry to another?

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Or are you kind of facing the same issues

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but just with different names?

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- It's a brilliant question because

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everyone said, oh, perhaps social housing

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is gonna be move a much slower pace

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compared to financial services, but I found it isn't,

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actually the decision making can be quicker

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in a housing association because you have that lean board

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and the different execs who can make that decisions for you,

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whether in financial services,

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you have to go up to the C-level suite, get answers,

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get decisions made,

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and that can take up to a couple of months.

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So actually it's about the same in the pace of it.

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And everyone says, oh, you know,

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people institutionalised far from it.

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There's some brilliant people

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I found in housing associations

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who wanted help the customers.

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So in Catalyst we call our tenants our customers

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so they have a really good focus on customer service,

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which was one of the appeals to me.

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Whereas in FS is very much about how much money you can make

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as you would expect.

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Quite a few close friends have asked me,

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what is the difference between financial services

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and housing associations?

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Actually, your colleagues who you work with.

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And one thing I'm still getting used to

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after spending over 15 years in financial services

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is that in housing associations,

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your colleagues are very much nicer,

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you ask it's none of it, is not my job, I'm not doing that,

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we're doing it for the greater good

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and you work incredibly collaboratively together.

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And even now it still feels slightly alien.

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You expect a bit more in financial services.

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You look after your own area,

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you look after your own department, your own function.

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Whereas I'm finding in social housing,

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everyone works closer together,

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but also in other housing associations too.

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So it's very much about,

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let's all work together for the greater good.

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- Obviously the challenge

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with social housing in this country

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is a vast one at the moment, isn't it?

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With the shortage of kind of affordable homes

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and we're obviously about to hit a crazy year in 2022 with

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rising living costs and all the rest of it.

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So what are you seeing as the main challenges

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and how data would be able to sort of

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help you with that within Catalyst?

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- So with data in Catalyst,

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we are very much at the beginning of the data journey.

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They've got a lot of data and

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a majority of the larger housing associations

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have been doing a lot of mergers over the past few years.

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So there's huge potential to utilising that data,

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but we have to get our data in the right place

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and there's a single source of truth.

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So at the moment that the big focus is getting data

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into one place, ultimately,

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but also looking at the quality of data.

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So actually understanding,

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making sure we have all the right information

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and it's filled incorrectly

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as it's very easily for mistakes to be made.

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And when you've done a lot of migrations and buying

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and merging with other housing associates,

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making sure we've got the right level of data quality,

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'cause ultimately you can produce some brilliant reports,

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get some brilliant insights,

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but you don't have the trust and the data,

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then that will road incredibly quickly.

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So the moment our focus is on that,

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getting the right level of data quality,

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working with external consultancies to help us with that.

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But again, one of the lovely things,

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some brilliant things about working in social housing

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is that you speak with the directors,

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they're the heads of

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and people in our customer service centre

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and other functions, they want to help.

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It's not like, oh, gotta fix this data,

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you know, mentality, you get in other industries.

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It is what can we do to out because we can see

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how it will benefit our customers as well.

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But also it's gonna lead on to bigger

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and greater things as a housing conference in September

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and in social housing,

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over 85% of customers use mobile phones

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to access the internet.

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So we've got to get better

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to, you know, meeting our customers needs

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and everyone uses our Amazon.

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I think Amazon's being used as a benchmark.

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So it's actually be able to use your mobile phone

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to look at your rent statements, to do repairs,

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to answer queries with that.

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And that's one of the things we've gotta move quickly on.

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- So when you are looking at this vast programme of work

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and you're saying about the data quality

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and the sort of future aims, if you like,

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of kind of how you extract that information and then use it,

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where do you typically start?

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Have you got a process that you brought to Catalyst

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or are you kind of fading away a bit

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into sort of seeing where you are at?

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- Short of becoming in ostrich

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and burying my head in the sand

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and hoping for the best,

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it's a hard question to answer

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because we are merging with another housing association.

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So I joined Catalyst in May 21,

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was brought in to set up the data strategy team,

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get our data protection data going, functions blooming,

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is the best way we had a good team set up

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and I worked with some brilliant colleagues in my team.

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But then we found out in late August, early September,

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we're merging with Peabody.

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So that sort of puts everything on hold

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and it's a Catalyst own.

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I think it's over 35,000 homes across West London

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and the Home counties, Peabody, 67,000 homes

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across East London and Eastern Home counties.

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So we're gonna be the second largest housing association.

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And then you've got this,

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you know what I've called a fog of confusion

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because everyone, you know,

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from the executives down to the directors

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have had to go through consultation, Jostle for jobs,

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as a head of service,

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I've got that still to come later in the year as well.

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And then you've got a concentrate on your data tasks,

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got a concentrate, looking at data protection,

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look at data governance,

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and look at data quality as well as actually planning

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what we're gonna do for the merger,

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working with people, you know,

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good colleagues in IT to understand what the IT roadmap is.

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And at the moment there's three of us

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looking at what is the plan,

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and it's trying to pick out, to quote an American phrase,

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the low hanging fruit,

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what can we do quickly and get it done?

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And without having great data quality

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and having the right governance around your data,

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you won't build the foundations

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to do the interesting stuff of finance reporting.

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The phrase at the moment is AI and machine learning

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and good things like that

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and without having the right data in the right place,

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the right level of quality, you can't do anything.

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But at the same time, it's keeping going,

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keeping the right level of engagement for the teams,

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focus on our customers, meeting their needs,

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protecting our data,

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making sure we meet all our requirements

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for data protection at the same time.

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And there's a huge amount of data

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that we've got to merge together too.

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So where do we start?

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I've actually just been having this conversation this week,

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looking at that, and it is gonna be around

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how we get the right level of data quality in place

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and the right level of governance.

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- I think for your work in governance,

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which you've obviously done

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and you've got a lot of experience with,

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I'm guessing, it's meant that you've worked with the

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audit committee to address business risk with that

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at Catalyst, hows that come about

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and how's it sort of been taken on board

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like a few somebody's coming,

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have they really know this stuff

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or is it just been like, oh, God, actually hang on a second,

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we've got enough stuff to be going on with,

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like you say, with that many homes

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that we are just trying to do the basics

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rather than actually having to kind of be

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measurable and tickle the right boxes.

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- With audit and risk committee,

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they want to provide assurance we're doing the right thing.

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We're not up playing hard and fast with the data.

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So when I first joined,

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there was a migration of data from our old CRM system

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to the new one.

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And the audit and risk committee asked the project team to

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provide some assurance that we aren't doing

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the right methodology,

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what you say is planning to happen will happen,

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and it is my second or third day in the business

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and the CIO gave me a call to say, can you organise?

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Okay, we won the top housing association within the G15,

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but at the moment with the pandemic, everything's database,

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all the consultancies are incredibly busy

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and it's just to look through,

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okay, we're moving data from A to B,

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are we doing this right?

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And it took some time to find a team that could do that.

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And one of the times I've learned of my career at GE Capital

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is the power of the network and networking.

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So I was on a round table and I met Jefferson,

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the MD of Red Olive,

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and we hit off, I'm originally from Berkshire,

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I live in Manchester now

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and work for a housing association in London,

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he lives not too far from where I groves,

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we had a bit of a common chat and we just hit off.

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And I remember one Friday calling him up to say,

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Jeff, I need to tap into your network, I've got a situation.

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And he was quite a nice chat to explain to him.

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And he said, ah, we might be able to help.

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I'm like, okay, how can you help?

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Well, we've got the consultants to look at that.

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We've done data migrations

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and we can look at the methodology being used

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and provide that assurance to your audit and risk committee.

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That what we say on the plan will go ahead.

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So, you know, I arrange some meetings internally.

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We like the guys.

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We can certainly see the value in it

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and the CIO agreed to it,

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that the problem we have with assurance work

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and the one time as a risk manager we faced the same

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is that people think you are marking their homework.

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You think you are being checking up on them,

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where it's actually, we are not,

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we are almost a second line of defence

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or two and a half line of defence to protect them.

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It's very easy in any project to over overlook something.

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So it's just making sure there was nothing overlooked,

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everything was in place.

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And thankfully everything was,

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there was a few little things around testing

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that this needed some enhancement on.

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So actually it gave the project team

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the transformation team, a bit of a, oh, actually, yeah,

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we haven't thought about it like this,

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let's look at it that way and it helps mitigate the risk.

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So it's almost getting

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a completely fresh piece of advised to look at it,

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look at what's being done,

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and just to make sure

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that you are heading in the right direction,

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which is what the audits and risk committee ask for.

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It's just providing that assurance

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that there's nothing gonna be missed off,

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and in social housing,

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if you're moving, you know, customer information,

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property information from one system to another,

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you have to report on that

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as part of the regulation reporting,

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and it's similar to financial services

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when you report to a regulator,

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you do not want to miss anything else

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and it's just making sure you do that

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and I think it's providing that assurance

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to the audit and risk committee

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that we've thought of everything,

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if everything goes to plan,

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and you know, you gotta think of the worst case scenario,

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if it doesn't, how are we gonna roll it back?

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How we can, we do that effectively,

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which is what the team done.

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And there port was incredibly well received

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by the project team, the transformation team,

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but also the audit and risk committee.

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- Do you think doing a project like that

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as I suppose your first big piece of work going in there

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acted as a really good springboard

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for being able to bring in other elements

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of the data strategy?

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- It does,

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and with the pandemic everyone's working from home.

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So it's not as easy to wander to someone's desk

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to have a chat and to get their inside line,

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and on Teams or Zoom,

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you can't just randomly call someone

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even if it does show and they're available.

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I always think it's a bit hard as a natural introvert

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to get that conversation going.

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It does help that, you know,

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you've got this big piece of work

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and ultimately the audit and risk committee do have

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a lot of influence on the business.

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It's something a board committee has asked for,

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so you have to do it.

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So I think it's actually good to get that in there

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and get to know different people

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with different personalities

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and also getting your personality out there.

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As I said, so I'm not here to catch you out,

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so I'm here to help you.

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I'm here to make sure we've done everything.

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Ultimately I'm like your get-out-of-jail free card

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to make sure this is successful.

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So even if you did miss something off,

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I'm not gonna shout about it,

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it's gonna be guys,

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can we make sure this is included in the plan?

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Ultimately, I'm not here to catch you out,

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I'm here to protect you.

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- Building from that sort of implementing a data strategy,

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what do you think needs to be covered

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for it to be successful from a business perspective?

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I mean, you mentioned there about having

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all of the different stakeholders involved in this

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to be able to sort of say,

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but do you think part of that success comes from

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making sure that data and its value is understood

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by the entire organisation?

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- Most definitely and ultimately IT doesn't own data,

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IT owns systems.

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It's the business owners or the business directors

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that own the data.

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And it's one thing

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when I joined the data governance manager,

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he insisted that all the directors who are data owners

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have that in their job title that they own the data,

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is in their power and their remit

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to make sure the data is the right quality,

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it is managed effectively as well.

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So it's getting that accountability

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and ownership across the business to do that.

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And you know, you always get some pushback,

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but you have to influence

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and explain why you are doing that.

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And then everyone buys in because then they can see

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the value of that, they can get their porting in place.

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They can understand things a lot quicker

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and get the information they need to make decisions.

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Then they have the trust in data too

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which is hugely important.

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There's nothing worse than over

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my time as a reporting analyst many years ago,

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trying to influence a senior manager

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to say the data is correct

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and having to do a huge reconciliation

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to go back and I managed to reconcile it back

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to the nearest penny to show that my report was correct.

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And it's very easy to create your own reports

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and produce numbers that you want,

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but having a single source of truth

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throughout the business is key.

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And that's part of our data strategy is to make sure that

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we know the reporting that comes out at the end,

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we can see how everything's matched

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all the way through the data leaders,

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know how it's been transformed

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and know that we have confidence in the data,

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but we can only do that with the right

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levels of data quality,

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making sure we have our data quality rules,

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but when we set up our rules,

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we've gone to the data owners and their teams

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to understand what are you looking for?

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What do you need from the data?

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So even simple things like on the name (indistinct)

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making sure the suffix is correct,

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or making sure sometimes you even have first name missed

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that you just have a letter in there

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because that's how people want it as well.

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And date of birth can be quite easy to press the wrong key.

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And even though the millennium happened 22 years ago,

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sometimes it's still very easy

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for those who was born in in the 1960s and 70s

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to put 19 in front of it

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and just making sure, you know, you've got no one

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with date of birth of simple check

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would be making sure, you know,

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if anyone's over 110 years old,

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and it's this little doubt thing that you forget about

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just making sure you have confidence in the data

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and even things like getting email addresses in

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and mobile phone numbers.

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You know, like most people,

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I don't have a landline at home

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because I've got my mobile number,

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I've had the same mobile number for 26 years.

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And the time, you know,

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on the landline people call is to spam you

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all the nuisance calls.

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So I have a landline which is part of my broadband,

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but there's no phone plugged into it.

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And it's about making sure you got those in place.

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And whereas before, you know,

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a homeline was class as a critical field,

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it's now a mobile phone, which is the critical field and

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as I said it's just getting that confidence and making sure

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the senior stakeholders in the business

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have confidence in the data

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that's flowing into the reporting.

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- But with the actual strategy that you've got

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and you mentioned that obviously within housing,

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there's an awful lot of data

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and obviously with Peabody as well,

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what can you see as the sort of biggest challenges

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and also the biggest opportunities

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for kind of using data within the housing space?

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- I think as I've mentioned, data quality is the huge one.

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Get that right, we can do lots more,

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lots more interesting things.

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And one of the things I think about,

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you know, what are the opportunities of data?

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There's so many things you can think about.

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You take the internet of things,

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thermostats connected to the internet.

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One of the things, you know,

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I spoke out with different colleagues around the business

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is that if you see that someone has their thermostat

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around 26 degrees every day, or it's on 24/7,

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do we need to look at the insulation in their house?

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Is there an issue with the doors?

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Is there issue with draughts and things like that?

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And it's also with repairs as well at the moment

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with Amazon you can take a photo of something

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and search for it that way.

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And the vision would be that if you are

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a customer of Catalyst

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that you can take a photo of the issue on an app,

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it goes through to our survey team,

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it goes through to a surveyor,

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they can then get it sorted

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and then it comes up as gets approved.

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And then actually you can go on via the app

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to actually book a time and a date

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that's suitable for you

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when you book a tradesman, and you know,

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it's hard to get a tradesman at the moment, but you know,

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just trying to get your boiler serviced.

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Yeah, I'll be around between 9:00 and 5:00,

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which everyone knows can ruin in your day.

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But imagine having it like with Amazon,

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you can see where your past is.

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It's gonna be delivered between 1:00 3:00 that day.

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And then you can see at six stops away.

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And having that to say,

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we know the guy's doing your repair is on the way,

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you can see where he is and things like that.

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And that to me is the level of customer service

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that everyone expects now.

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And I think that's what we've gotta aspire to do that,

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but also with the internet of things

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where we have washing machines

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that are connected to the internet, boilers as well,

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and even things like having a boiler

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that's connected to the internet

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which connects to Catalyst systems,

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if we can see that it's not

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performing as effectively as it should,

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do some preemptive servicing

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instead of waiting for it to break down

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and that will increase our level of customer service,

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also keep costs down

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and also keep our customers happy.

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And that's a type of advance things we should do.

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It's very simplified,

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but the whole infrastructure behind that,

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having the right data strategy in place needs support,

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things like that going forward.

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- You mentioned there about the kind of

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preemptive maintenance, so that predictive nature of,

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you know, once you've got those data systems set up,

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do you think it will give you a sort of better understanding

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of your tenants, of your customers as you so say

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so that you could sort of help them more as well?

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You know, I think for some people who find themselves

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in social housing or who are,

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you know, sort of living in that,

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they actually sometimes particularly if they're elderly,

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you know, and they're on the road,

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you might be able to actually sort of say,

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hang on a second, David,

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they put the Kettle along properly or, you know, for a week.

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So it could change the whole kind of nature

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of your future services of actually how you work with them.

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- Definitely and I think, you know,

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you just look at Apple watches

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and the TVs on for Apple watches,

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they have it that someone falls over in the U.S wilderness

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and they fallen over and it says,

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please respond within five seconds,

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managed to knock themselves out, falling over.

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And it sends an emergency call to emergency services

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with the coordinates.

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That's just apple with their great technology and software.

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But like you said,

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if we had an elderly person who fell over

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having a alarm or even something on their wrist

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that could attract the warden,

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or even just having sensors in the house

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to say they haven't moved during daytime

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or something like that would be a great help,

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you know, it's not intrusive

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like having CCTV watching you all the time,

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that seems a bit too 1984 intrusive,

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but actually using technology to connect like that,

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you said, you know, if the kettle hasn't boiled

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at eight o'clock every day,

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you know, why are they still in bed?

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Can we get the warden up just to make sure they're alright,

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Is Mrs. Smith, Mr. Smith okay?

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I think that as the way it should be going as well,

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making sure that, you know,

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we use technology to look after everyone.

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- You mentioned, obviously

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that Catalyst has been acquired by Peabody

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and you've obviously got plans

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and now there's a lot of,

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I'm guessing that, like you say,

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doing something in the short term that you can do,

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but at the same time,

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sort of trending more until everything sort of happens.

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But how are you approaching that integration of systems?

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What are you thinking is going to work well?

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- The key is working with our colleagues in IT

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to understand what the IT roadmap is,

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what is the strategy of it?

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But also, you know,

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our colleagues in IT at the moment are making sure that

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when the merger happens,

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that the systems that have been selected,

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are they gonna be robust enough

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to cope with the increased levels of demand?

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And from that, I'll be looking at the data,

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you know, making sure the data flows in,

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there's two very different systems that are used between QL,

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the Northgate, two different CRM systems used in housing.

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QL can be very unstructured.

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I think it's the best phrase to use

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where you can change things,

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whereas Northgate, you load something into their system,

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it has to meet all the requirements to load in,

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otherwise it gets rejected.

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So it's making sure we've got all that in place

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and to make sure that the migration goes smoothly

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ultimately for our customers,

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because they don't need to notice the backend systems,

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and our colleagues across Catalyst and Peabody.

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It needs to be seamless for those guys as well.

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There's nothing worse when you make a call for someone

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and go, oh, I've got a system issue or

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I'm still trying to wait for it to work.

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It just leads to a poor customer experience.

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And that's one thing we need to avoid as well.

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And it's quite easy to forget about that

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when you are looking at migrating data,

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then as we work very closely

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with our colleagues across the operations world

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to make sure that everything

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goes smooth for them and understand their issues

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and making sure their requirements

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is met from anyone who's out there in the field,

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working with our customers

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to people within our call centre,

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all the way up to our chief operating officer too.

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- When you are coming into a sort of planning like that,

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and you have your kind of delivery,

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feel like your milestones or your aims,

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how would you sort of recommend

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that if somebody was gonna do

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a sort of big project like that,

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they would get everybody involved with it,

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and how important do you feel the kind of reporting

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and the communication back out

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about how the project is moving along

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and how often you are kind of giving updates

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on how things are moving is considered?

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- I think communication is key

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because people want to know what's going on

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and how it's gonna affect them.

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But there's also a lot of time

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where we just don't know what is happening in.

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So it's just explaining to people,

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this is where we are in the planning stage,

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this is what the long term goals are.

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And as part of the plan that we've been working on,

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is actually what are the outcomes

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we want to achieve from this?

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And then work our way back and what can we ring things?

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What can go on hold for now?

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What are the things that are burning us the most

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and then work that,

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then once we've got that plan together

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is actually communicating it out to the business saying,

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we're working on this, we need your help.

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Let's improve this.

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And one of the key things we are looking at is data quality.

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So we're doing a proof of concept

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to work with our customer data

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to make sure we get that in the right place.

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Once we've got that in place, we start doing some updates.

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We work on other data as well.

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And again, it's just making sure

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that people are aware we are doing that, get their buy,

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but also show them the benefits of doing this.

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So once we've got this in place,

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it means we can load the data into our new system

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where everything will be working as we expect it to.

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We're not gonna have to shift around

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or do lots of searching,

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the information you need to provide great customer service

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is going to be there explaining that benefit

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to our colleagues from that.

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And it seems quite easy and quite straightforward,

Speaker:

but the amount of work behind the scenes is gonna be huge,

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and that's what we're still looking at doing,

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and even just trying to work out resourcing

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and cost for that.

Speaker:

And then you've got the challenging timelines as well.

Speaker:

When you get told, we need to get it done by X date,

Speaker:

this will send a chill down your spine and you're like, ooh,

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how we gonna do this?

Speaker:

But again, it's breaking down the problem into small pieces

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and managing it that way

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and then focusing on the areas that you need to target

Speaker:

that you're gonna get the most benefit from.

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So in a way it's quite exciting.

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I'm personally looking forward to doing it

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and working on it to see the benefits from that.

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There's always gonna be bumps along the road,

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but when you see what we can get done in the next two years,

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two to three years, and how far you can advance on,

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it's gonna be brilliant.

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- I think now it's becoming a bit more visible

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that actually the more data you have

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and the better you understand it,

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the speed with which you can react to situations

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can be a lot faster.

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I think sometimes larger organisations might think,

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oh, yeah, Okay, fine,

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but there's still that kind of enterprise, if you like,

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thinking of that, kind of it still has to go through

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a whole process and checks and the rest of it,

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rather than being perhaps as agile as

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maybe some people would expect,

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you know, sort of with today's technology.

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- Definitely, and then also, you know, you have GDPR

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which people try and hide behind.

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It's one of the interesting things are

Speaker:

we can't give out the information because of GDPR,

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and as GDPRs, we might email,

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I just ask the question why?

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well, because of GDPR,

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no, what's the reasoning behind it, why?

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Give me the legitimate reasons for you saying that.

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And quite often people just don't know

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and they're actually quite afraid of it,

Speaker:

but actually within the GDPR framework

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and the Data Protection Act,

Speaker:

there is the framework in place

Speaker:

to provide that information out.

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We have good reasons for sharing that information

Speaker:

in an emergency as well.

Speaker:

And I think, you know, from a moral perspective,

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people won't have an issue

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people sharing that data to make sure everyone is okay,

Speaker:

but you can't share your data just because you want to.

Speaker:

And a data practitioner I follow on LinkedIn

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come out with a really personal point is that

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companies don't own the data,

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they're merely looking after it for you.

Speaker:

So it's a really interesting way to think about,

Speaker:

it's one thing I challenge my team on,

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we don't own this data,

Speaker:

we are looking at after it for our customers.

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How would you think about if, you know,

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you lost all that information?

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But at the same time when there is a serious situation,

Speaker:

would you be okay with sharing your data?

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And often it is, yes,

Speaker:

because it's for the greater good here.

Speaker:

- What I was gonna lastly sort of touch on

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was sustainability.

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Now, having a look at the Catalyst site

Speaker:

and you've got your big delivery plan

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and obviously looking to build new homes

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and have this big aim with your carbon footprints.

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Can you tell me a little bit about

Speaker:

how you are planning on using data to make that happen?

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- So sustainability is fascinating.

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That's one thing we need to get

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a deeper understanding of with our data,

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so when we construct homes,

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it's getting all the information in there.

Speaker:

And even though I live in Manchester, 200 miles from London,

Speaker:

it's quite interesting because you look at the summer,

Speaker:

everyone's trying to insulate homes to keep them warm.

Speaker:

But with climate change,

Speaker:

you find especially in London and the Southern England,

Speaker:

in the summer there are more and more days

Speaker:

where the temperature doesn't dip below 20 degrees at night.

Speaker:

And if your home has lots of insulation,

Speaker:

that heat is gonna be trapped inside your home.

Speaker:

So actually is it gonna be hotter?

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So it's actually working it out,

Speaker:

you know, for the sustainability,

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how do we keep air blowing through homes

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to keep things being cooled down,

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especially when we get to summer,

Speaker:

then the other side is when we have a,

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you know, a beast from east or really cool spell,

Speaker:

how do we keep our customers houses warm as well?

Speaker:

So it's actually understanding the material was being used

Speaker:

and making sure we have all that right information in place.

Speaker:

But again, Catalyst is an old housing association

Speaker:

that's come through different guises over the years,

Speaker:

we own a lot of Victorian, Edwardian housing stock

Speaker:

in west London.

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I live in a Victorian house,

Speaker:

this currently where I'm sat is 16.8 degrees

Speaker:

where I'm sat on my desk and it's 7.6 outside,

Speaker:

which is not too bad for Manchester in January,

Speaker:

but it's that whole piece of,

Speaker:

if you insulate a Victorian house,

Speaker:

you are gonna get condensation inside.

Speaker:

You are gonna start getting mould as well.

Speaker:

So how do you get that sustainability

Speaker:

and how do you start working with that?

Speaker:

And you've got all the different protests

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and different environmental groups as well,

Speaker:

but again, it's disruption to people's homes.

Speaker:

How do you work with our customers

Speaker:

to make sure you get the right balance as well?

Speaker:

And again, with new homes as well,

Speaker:

there's things changing all the time and you know,

Speaker:

what is the most efficient way you look at the changing,

Speaker:

you know, from stop using coal, oil,

Speaker:

gas is seen as this almost neutral,

Speaker:

sustainable as we move to more zero carbon, wind,

Speaker:

and solar panels.

Speaker:

So you have to think about

Speaker:

how can we fit these in our new developments?

Speaker:

How is that gonna work?

Speaker:

And I know one development that that Cat has set up

Speaker:

where we have a shared boiler,

Speaker:

it's actually more efficient to have one large boiler

Speaker:

supplying the hot water and the heating,

Speaker:

the hot water for the heating through one large boiler

Speaker:

than 12 smaller ones.

Speaker:

But then you've gotta understand the data behind it,

Speaker:

out of the 12 homes, who's using it the most?

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You just split it by 12.

Speaker:

Is that the right way to do it?

Speaker:

Or do you do it how much they're using?

Speaker:

'Cause you can have one person like me

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that prefers the house cooler

Speaker:

and you could for someone else

Speaker:

who wants the house at 24 degrees.

Speaker:

So who pays for that

Speaker:

and that's where you need to use data and information

Speaker:

to balance that out.

Speaker:

- It's that understanding your customers as well,

Speaker:

I mean, they sort of, okay,

Speaker:

we are all moving hopefully to a greener planet,

Speaker:

hopefully realise this, you know, we need to do that,

Speaker:

but that rate of change and how people

Speaker:

feel like they're empowered

Speaker:

or that they're brought along

Speaker:

or whether they're just being talking,

Speaker:

now actually all of a sudden your house has gotta have this.

Speaker:

Do you feel like that communication again

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with your customers about

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what they actually want in the future

Speaker:

is something that data is helping you get from them

Speaker:

and also report back to them?

Speaker:

- And I think that's one thing

Speaker:

we've gotta have a two way conversation with our customers

Speaker:

about get the feedback of what they're looking for.

Speaker:

I don't think you can dictate to any customer

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about their needs and wants.

Speaker:

It's gotta be that two way street to understand

Speaker:

because you got different people,

Speaker:

different stages of their lives.

Speaker:

So they all have different needs too.

Speaker:

So it's getting that right balance and understanding that,

Speaker:

and this is where you move from something,

Speaker:

you know, where it's like evidential data,

Speaker:

you can back it up to a source system

Speaker:

into the more sort of marketing side of

Speaker:

giving people, giving their opinions,

Speaker:

giving their viewpoints, what are they looking for?

Speaker:

And again, it's that accountability,

Speaker:

who is gonna be responsible for installing electric charges

Speaker:

in people's houses.

Speaker:

If you are a home owner, that would be your one,

Speaker:

but if you are at social housing,

Speaker:

is it your landlord to do it?

Speaker:

And do you want it as well?

Speaker:

And that's gonna be the interesting item as well.

Speaker:

Do you wanna have a car charger?

Speaker:

- Data seems to me to be a real opportunity

Speaker:

for a retrospective of how things have gone at the moment

Speaker:

and also a real sort of future looking

Speaker:

what things do we need to put in place

Speaker:

so that things work better.

Speaker:

And I think there's obviously kind of more awareness

Speaker:

that actually those looking backwards and looking forwards

Speaker:

kind of are a bit more hand in hand

Speaker:

than perhaps people might like to think,

Speaker:

particularly if they're thinking from an IT perspective.

Speaker:

With new people coming into the industry,

Speaker:

what sort of skills or abilities do you think,

Speaker:

or passions do you think that they

Speaker:

should have that you think would work well?

Speaker:

- I think it's a lot of soft skill sets now.

Speaker:

I think that's the important bit,

Speaker:

the ability to work collaboratively with each other,

Speaker:

understand each other,

Speaker:

but also to challenge,

Speaker:

that's the thing with data,

Speaker:

to challenge the data, is it right?

Speaker:

Where are we going with this challenge, your assumptions,

Speaker:

and just having that inquiring mind,

Speaker:

I think those are the key things at the moment.

Speaker:

It's very easy to pick up the technical skills,

Speaker:

you know, the developers,

Speaker:

the more sort of database developments,

Speaker:

but actually is providing the insights

Speaker:

and one of the things for the merger that I'm speaking with,

Speaker:

the guys I'm working with is,

Speaker:

guys we've gotta tell a data story here.

Speaker:

What is the story of our data journey?

Speaker:

And it's being able to articulate that.

Speaker:

And as someone who got a C at GCSE back in the day,

Speaker:

and it's something I've gotta keep challenging myself on

Speaker:

and improving on how do we tell the story of data?

Speaker:

What is our journey from that?

Speaker:

So from improving our data quality

Speaker:

and having the right governance in place,

Speaker:

what can we do from that?

Speaker:

We can get more interesting reporting,

Speaker:

from the reporting,

Speaker:

we can get more insight into our customers

Speaker:

and how they're living and their demands.

Speaker:

And then from that,

Speaker:

we can then use that to forecast their needs in the future.

Speaker:

And then you intersperse it with climate change,

Speaker:

becoming carbon neutral sustained ability.

Speaker:

And then you have this whole big puzzle

Speaker:

which starts to form a clearer picture

Speaker:

where you can tell your story on

Speaker:

and where you wanna move to.

Speaker:

And I think if anyone's looking to move

Speaker:

into that data field,

Speaker:

it's almost being that bridge between,

Speaker:

being able to be understand the technical side of data,

Speaker:

but now to explain it to non-data people

Speaker:

through storytelling.

Speaker:

- A really interesting take

Speaker:

on the importance of data quality management

Speaker:

and reporting from Simon,

Speaker:

as well as some insights into how data

Speaker:

can drive future business decision making.

Speaker:

Join us for the next episode of the Fibonacci Podcast,

Speaker:

we'll be joined by another data experts

Speaker:

sharing their thoughts on the latest trends

Speaker:

in AI in big data.

Speaker:

Make sure you subscribe to Fibonacci,

Speaker:

the Red Olive Data Podcast

Speaker:

from where you get your podcast

Speaker:

to make sure you don't miss out.

Speaker:

That's all for today,

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thank you for listening,

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I've been your host, Nicky Rudd,

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and we'll see you next time.