Data and compliance experts from Axiata, Telstra and Telefónica Chile discussed some of the biggest challenges to good data governance and how to tackle them as telcos increasingly rely on making the best use of vast swathes of data in new services. During a Digital Transformation World Series session, they also talked about how to deploy AI and greater automation and improve customer experience, all while complying with regulation.
“At Telstra…we realized a few years ago if we wanted to be a digital company, we needed to get our data under control,” said Stuart Powell, Data & AI Governance – Principal, Telstra.
One of the biggest changes Telstra had to make was to its business culture, starting with ensuring that senior leaders understand and buy into the whole process.
“That has required a fair bit of education. Our senior management team wasn’t naturally speaking about data and AI with any level of authority or any level of understanding,” said Powell.
Now Telstra’s CEO leadership team meet once a quarter to talk about data and AI issues. Telstra also identified ‘executive data owners’ in each of its nine business functions who meet every month to “really wrestle with what are the big issues in terms of getting data quality across different silos in the organization to make it really work.”
Telefonica Chile initially encountered cultural resistance to its data governance program.
“Many data users felt threatened by the new governance unit. They believed that we were going to literally steal their jobs. It was important to be clear about what we wanted to do,” said Karen Arenas, Head of BI & Big Data, Telefonica Chile.
Employees become much more enthusiastic about good data governance when relevant examples help them understand how it can fix the business and operational problems they encounter, said the speakers.Operating in multiple geographies
Axiata Group faces the additional challenge of operating in 11 countries across RCR and South Asia.
“If you take that multi-jurisdictional environment into context, one of the top evolving areas is the sheer complexity of the regulatory landscape,” said Adid Adam, Group Chief Information Security Officer & Group Head of Privacy, Axiata Group Berhad.
Among Axiata’s top concerns is ensuring data privacy and cybersecurity while enabling product innovation and customer experience. Other areas of focus are developing appropriate data models underpinned by artificial intelligence and machine learning as well as “how you collect the data, how you process data, how you analyze data and how technology should be employed, ethically, in decision making.”
Axiata’s Adam strongly advises performing an independent assessment against the standard framework to understand maturity strengths and capabilities, while recognizing that not all business units require the same information capabilities.Whose responsibility is this?
Data ownership is another knotty issue.
“The owner of the system on-prem and the owner of the system in the cloud might be different. They don’t have the views that straddles both, particularly if there’s multiple legacy systems coming together into the cloud,” said Telstra’s Powell.
“My advice would be don’t get distracted by the technology,” said Powell. “It’s very easy to jump into AI IoT and cloud as a technology and think of it fundamentally is going to change the way that we use data or data. Data issues don’t magically go away when you migrate from on-premises systems to the cloud.”
Indeed, Powell recommends communications service providers take a view of data management that is distinct from location. “It’s one of the data ownership and data stewardship roles to make sure that we manage the data as opposed to a place.”
Axiata’s Adam also highlighted the need to be clear about responsibilities for data within partnerships with cloud and IoT companies. “You need to have a clear understanding, especially with the cloud, shared services model as to what are your responsibilities, what the shared services responsibility model looks like.”Watch the Industry Voices: Exploring a global vision for the future of data governance session here.