The data challenge for the finance industry

June 1, 2023

The Chief Product and Technology Officer at Spendesk recently discussed the benefits of data for the finance industry. In our digital world, finance and fintech companies consistently look for ways to use data to deliver more personalisation and relevant services.

Product-related data provides vital insights into behaviours, choices and customer demands, which can support the financial services industry to deliver customised financial products. However, the application of in-product data does create privacy concerns. To strike a balance between utilising the value of data and protecting privacy, the finance industry must implement a customer-focused approach toward data management. 

The fintech industry is an exciting space and while there has been a broader slowdown in investment, the fintech space still can adapt and pivot easier than banks and traditional financial institutions. The agility aspect is critical in times of economic uncertainty when things may need to change quickly. The rise of digital connectivity is providing businesses access to accurate, real-time data that can be applied in a meaningful manner.

The benefits of data cannot be ignored and utilising it in intelligent ways offers significant opportunities for fintech companies. For example, business spending management enables companies can gather so much information from the data collected on employee expenses. Spend management solutions can support business leaders and their CFOs to create spending limits and provide enhanced visibility when examining and allocating budgets. 

A CFO that can show these types of cost efficiencies in the current economic conditions will be in a favourable position. Solutions that utilise AI enable the finance industry to measure large volumes of data, identify trends and apply this information to deliver bespoke financial products and services that meet the requirements of each customer. A financial institution might use data to determine which savings or investment products are the most popular with various demographics, and use this info to create customised financial products that work specifically for those customers. 

One important element of a customer-centric approach is implementing secure data protection policies and processes. The finance sector is heavily regulated, so should be capable of adhering to data privacy regulations. Any customer data has a potential risk, so companies must recognise liability issues and apply the necessary measures to control them. Aside from liability protection, prioritising privacy builds trust with customers. Recent research from Google and Ipsos suggests that 43% of respondents would move from their preferred brand to a second-choice brand if they offered a better privacy experience. 

Another critical part of applying a customer-centric approach is providing individuals with more control over their data. For example, businesses can provide customers with secure online portals to access and manage their data or provide an option to manage who has access to their information and how it is used. It’s vital to consider all opportunities available to build trust with customers while ensuring that data is handled responsibly and ethically. If your business uses data protection policies and processes, remains transparent on data collection and gives customers more control over their data, the data challenge can become a data opportunity. This opportunity can be enhanced by using innovative technology that equally benefits both businesses and their customers.


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Six ways CFOs can increase the potential of transformation success

May 17, 2023

Adapting and transforming business activities during challenging times is vital. According to EY, progression and future success are more likely if CFOs can focus on six complex human-based factors. CFOs recognise from experience that successful transformation is challenging and requires their input. 

A recent study between EY and the University of Oxford Said Business School discovered that at least three-quarters of CFOs have experienced some form of transformation over the last five years, but many CFOs still fail to recognise that acceptance from other employees is critical in determining the progress of transformation. Research indicates that successful transformation leaders are more efficient at managing workplace stress and pressure, and by managing these six key factors, they increase the potential of transformation considerably. 

Key drivers of transformation success for CFOs

  1. Inspire: create a vision that is presented to all and represents a comprehensive explanation of ‘why’. Business leaders may not recognise the importance a vision can have in terms of inspiring others and creating a sense of purpose. The time and investment spent on delivering a vision can be lost. About half of the finance workforce affected by a successful transformation plan stated that didn’t clearly understand the leadership vision.

CFOs may not value the power of a shared purpose in inspiring teams. According to the study, CFOs must maintain the human aspect of transformation as a priority. Leaders need a good understanding of the future and its impact on individuals and groups. Generally, CFOs will consider program milestones and business goals rather than personal and individual targets. CFOs must invest in a plan that supports individual journeys to provide people with a sense of ownership, belonging and control of their positions.

2. Create an empathetic and authentic leadership plan that aligns with the finance vision. Successful transformation needs leaders to show courage and empathy, especially around workforce expectations and priorities. While clarity of the vision is important for gaining momentum, CFOs must demonstrate empathy, and show connections between the transformation vision and the benefits to the business and the workforce.

3. Purposely build an environment that supports the workforce and their roles. Successful transformation requires people to invest and commit to the journey. While leadership is vital, creating a transformation culture where everyone feels engaged in the journey is even more necessary. In the EY survey, 46% of finance leaders welcomed ideas from junior staff members, and only 31% of finance employees believes leaders listened to their ideas. CFOs must focus on the personal aspect of transformation and ensure people feel empowered and capable of voicing their opinions. With this in mind, CFOs must actively listen and respond to employee feedback.

4. Empower – delegate decisions and focus on delivering a culture of safety testing. Transformation journeys are not set in stone and can change depending on certain events. In the EY study, successful transformation leaders suggest that taking a step back or changing paths wasn’t necessarily a bad idea. Leaders must set expectations that can adapt when needed and communicate the changes transparently and as early as possible. Traditional finance functions on a basis that requires precision and working to specific metrics at particular intervals. This approach creates a culture of no surprises, which can at times, hinder innovation. The study suggests that finance leaders were more inclined to believe that failed testing would result in a negative impact on their careers, but as transformation becomes more regular, CFOs must encourage creativity and innovation that ensures their business is capable of adapting and learning. CFOs must create a safe environment, ensuring people feel welcome to experiment and test without negatively impacting their careers. 

5. Construct a way of showing how technology will deliver the financial vision. Blending technology with the necessary skills is critical in enabling transformation. Innovative technology is often a priority for finance leadership transformation plans. The study shows that 38% of CFOs identified technology and digital innovation as top priorities for accelerating transformation. That said, only 40% of senior finance leaders, including CFOs, determined technology as the top three challenges in delivering a successful transformation. 

6. Collaboration: create a plan for collaboration, and deliver new ways of working. While nearly half of the finance leaders believe processes were created to deliver collaboration within the business during transformation, only 31% of finance employees agreed with this. The gap here is critical when compared to other functions. It suggests the bigger challenge that finance professionals don’t feel that leaders are finding or valuing their efforts during the transformation. To increase success, EY research suggests that creating a space for new ways of thinking is essential. CFOs must segment siloed and hierarchical ways of working, and implement a multi-discipline approach that enables new perspectives and allows everyone to be involved in the transformation.

Transformation success will come from putting people at the forefront of new plans. CFOs have a holistic view of a business and are well-positioned to determine the tone of practices required for transformation. Today’s CFO must consciously focus on empowering people and lead with a vision with a ‘we’ not ‘me’ approach. 

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How fintech is enhancing data access for finance businesses

May 10, 2023

Data has become the new currency in today’s financial landscape, and the fintech industry is leading the way by leveraging technology to tackle challenges and deliver better financial solutions.

Financial businesses are competing to transform their activities, and with the existing economic conditions, customers are demanding far more services and solutions, with increasing availability of new data, new data management policies and the potential of cyber attacks rising. The various ways of managing data can be vital tool to tackle challenges in the finance industry. Fintech has transformed traditional banking, delivering innovation to a market previously considered unchangeable. New businesses have challenged the norm, driving financial companies to change and move away from legacy systems.

There is now a significant opportunity for finance companies to use the data available in fintech. This will help companies work through the new landscape and improve data access, leading to more effective customer-focused services and enabling banks to remain competitive in a digital world.

Data stands at the core of financial services, from credit ratings to regulatory compliance and fraud detection. The volume of data available in finance is considerable, and the demand to explore and measure this information is more critical than ever. There are several key areas where fintech can drive improvements in access to data for finance companies.

Firstly, data security is a top priority for all businesses as cyber-attacks are rising, with studies suggesting that businesses experienced a 77% increase in attacks in 2022. This figure represents a significant threat for financial companies as finance holds valuable information that makes businesses potentially more vulnerable to cyber security threats. The fintech industry offers innovative ways to protect data via advanced encryption processes, sophisticated authentication and blockchain-focused solutions. These progressive forms of technology can support finance companies in protecting customer information, building stronger relationships and defending themselves against possible reputational and financial loss.

Delivering a more flexible approach

Data interoperability is critical in today’s financial ecosystem. Customers increasingly depend on various financial providers, while demanding an effective experience and customer service. Existing legacy systems used by many incumbents often lack the flexibility and available services needed for seamless data exchange, resulting in relatively slow and unstructured customer service.
Fintech companies offer solutions to these challenges, utilising open banking processes and APIs, enabling the integration of services between various groups, and improving collaboration and data sharing.

The enhanced use of data can improve business operations by changing the way financial companies determine plans, manage risk and support their customers. Data-focused decision-making, supported by new techs like AI, ML and big data analytics is all possible because of solutions presented in the fintech industry.

The fintech industry can strengthen the financial sector by providing solutions that can improve operations and enable companies to create services that meet customer needs and ensure they remain competitive. By rethinking how we use data and utilising the potential of fintech, finance companies can streamline their operations, improve customer experience and make better decisions, driving growth and increasing competitiveness in the industry.

The fintech industry has a significant opportunity to generate positive changes and improve data access for finance companies. It is the responsibility of the finance industry to recognise and implement the services available and the fintech providers to continue generating new solutions to improve operations. Through collaboration, the fintech industry can reshape traditional finance companies, unravelling a reformed, efficient and secure financial future while enabling a customer-focused approach leading to accelerated future business growth.

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Digital transformation in banking: Exploring the Future of Finance

April 26, 2023

Digital technology has transformed the finance industry by enhancing the customer experience, improving operational efficiency and reducing overall costs. AI, big data analytics and automation are top trends reshaping the finance industry. There are challenges, however, including regulatory compliance, outdated tech systems, security, the demand for talent and the potential risk of losing connection with personal banking.

Digital banking today has transformed our personal experience with our finances. From mobile payments to AI-driven technology, the finance industry is rapidly changing. The traditional banking system has carved a new path to a more accessible digital banking model. Customers can access their accounts, transfer money and pay their bills from home or via their smart devices. This movement towards digital banking has enhanced the customer experience and improved overall business operations. Digital technology has allowed banks to improve security measures and prevent potential fraud cases. Digital technology will continue shaping the future of finance.
Enhancing the customer experience and business operations

Industry transformation is supported by several factors, including improved customer experience, increased efficiency and reduced costs. The rise of fintech businesses and changing demands of customers have played a critical role in driving digital transformation in finance. Furthermore, regulatory changes and tech advancements have made it easier for finance businesses to adopt digital solutions. The increased use of mobile tech and the Internet has also supported further growth in digital banking.

The shift toward digital technology has transformed traditional finance practices. It has enabled new businesses to emerge, offering a range of advantages to the finance world. It has improved the overall customer experience by providing accessible services for all. Digital technology has also increased operational efficiency for finance businesses by creating quicker transactions and reduced costs.

By recognising the advancements, you can make informed decisions about which finance businesses to work with and which technologies to adopt to manage finances effectively.

Navigating the digital finance scene

The digital finance industry is rapidly evolving, and finance companies must remain in touch with the latest trends to stay competitive. Many benefits have emerged with digital tech, but there are also challenges finance companies face when adopting digital solutions. One of the main challenges is related to regulatory compliance. Finance businesses must meet a range of regulations and standards when implementing digital technology to ensure complete security and privacy of customer data. This process can take time and requires considerable resources.
A secondary challenge is legacy systems, with many conventional banks relying on outdated IT systems incompatible with today’s digital solutions. Upgrading these systems can be expensive and time-consuming, blocking the potential adoption of digital technologies.

Cybersecurity is a major concern when implementing digital technology in finance. Businesses must ensure their systems remain secure and protected from potential cyber-attacks. Furthermore, there is a need for skilled talent capable of managing and maintaining new digital solutions. This requires additional investment in training and development plans to ensure employees have the skills to work effectively with new technologies.

Finally, there is a risk of losing the personal connection in finance as more activities move online. Financial institutions must find ways to balance the accessibility of digital banking with personalised customer service to keep customer loyalty. While there are challenges in adding new digital services, finance companies must discover ways to alleviate these concerns to remain competitive in a digital future.

As finance companies slowly transition from physical branches, it will become more important to balance the convenience of digital banking and the personalisation that people demand. While online banking has become very popular, many people still want personal interactions. To address this, emerging technologies like AR and VR may provide solutions to connect the gap between digital accessibility and personalisation. Utilising emerging technologies may enable us to strike a balance, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty. As finance moves closer towards a digital transformation, it’s critical to remember the value of personalisation. Augmented and virtual reality provide a solution to connect digital and personal services. Incorporating these types of services will create an experience that provides customers with more insights into financial products and services.

We are embarking on a new transformation journey and should embrace the power of tech to deliver a promising future for finance. By using digital technologies, banks can transform how they support their customers. Innovation and digital disruption are vital to generating new opportunities and exceeding customer expectations. Finance companies must keep close to emerging trends and provide more convenient and accessible services to their customers and deliver an enhanced finance experience.

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Driving digital transformation in finance requires getting the data right

April 12, 2023

Applying data skills and governance for leaders and employees is critical for CFOs to make progress with digital transformation plans. With the rising speculation around AI and other technologies, digital transformation remains a priority for CFOs. To make real progress on their digital plans they must position data governance and skills at the top.

Industry professionals believe that getting the data right is vital for their clients. Bad data will directly impact the ability to use new features with AI. If businesses lack data governance or their systems are clustered with duplicate customers and other information, for example, the insights gained from predictive analytics cannot provide much-added value. Understanding data structure basics is critical in this process as it recognises the overall strategy and how it connects with digital transformation.

Digital transformation is dependent on understanding the data

CFOs take on a vital role in driving their digital transformation goals forward. While CTOs or other executives can provide essential insights, accountability goes back to the CFO because such measures are a significant investment into their organisation.

Having a complete understanding of a data governance strategy is crucial for finance leaders. Industry leaders believe that having a CFO, a decision maker at the senior level capable of making those major decisions, will accelerate the digital transformation journey. 

Gaining a broader understanding of data structure and building those necessary skills can enable leaders to be more prepared when exploring new technologies. For example, exploring the potential of AI is becoming a necessity for businesses, especially in the current economic climate.

Uncertainties for our economy mean applying a ‘wait and see’ approach toward digital transformation is no longer viable. Businesses that fail to adopt new systems may not be capable of taking advantage of emerging technologies to navigate further disruption. AI can be integrated with other platforms to aggregate vital information, explore data and find key insights to drive businesses forward.

CFOs and senior leaders are trying to determine what areas to focus on, finding the reports or key performance indicators that will enable them to make the best decisions, move forward, empower their colleagues and retain skilled employees.

Data skills can support talent retention

Applying a data-focused approach can support finance leaders with talent retention, as upskilling in this area can save businesses money and enable them to progress with their digital transformation plans. Businesses are beginning to focus on empowering their workforce to learn new skills. 

While recent studies show job growth is slowing, cost optimisation remains a high priority for CFOs, with headcount and compensation regarded as two areas where financial leaders may look to reduce expenses. According to a study by Grant Thornton, 42% of financial leaders highlighted these areas as a means to reduce costs, with the number of CFOs who stated they are unsure they can meet their labour needs declining to an all-time low.

Upskilling talent not only means businesses avoid hiring new people, but it also helps with employee retention. More millennials and next-gen people want to learn and grow at an organisation, and if they aren’t offered this, they will quickly leave. Investing in their training will strengthen their employees and create a workforce prepared to continue investing in the business.

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UK open finance at a critical point in defining future

April 5, 2023

According to a new report by the independent group Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec), the UK open banking industry has reached a crossroads and suppliers require more certainty about its future path. 

Nearly 5,000 people are working in the UK open banking and the industry raised over £880 million last year, so a lack of direction could impact the continued progress of open banking. Coadec’s report believes there is an opportunity for the industry to accelerate to the next level, but could be impacted in other countries in Europe if the wrong decisions are made by regulators.

In 2018, UK banks were required to introduce the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) open banking regulations, which resulted in the launch of the application programming interfaces (APIs) in finance, providing customers with more control of their accounts.

The end goal was to enhance competition in an industry traditionally controlled by large financial services businesses. Customer banking data is shared by the industry via APIs, with permission from the customer, allowing companies to deliver customised solutions.

Over seven million people in the UK used open banking in 2022 and according to data reported to Open Banking Limited building societies, two million users were added in the last year. While open banking has continued to progress and develop a new sector of financial-based technology, the next stage of open finance can go much further.

Open finance will see companies share data across far more services, like mortgages and loans, and offer new products and solutions from other organisations. 

The Coadec report explains that a multibillion industry is emerging beyond payment account data to create a new era of innovation and competition. Luke Kosky, fintech policy lead at Coadec explains that the growth of open banking has been a success for the UK. The industry has grown to over £4 billion in five years, and with the right support and regulation, the opportunities for open banking are limitless. However, Kosky emphasises that we have reached a defining moment for open banking and the next steps will define future success. 

There is some uncertainty in the sector as companies await a report from the Joint Regulatory Oversight Committee (JROC) which replaced the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE). One request of Coadec is retaining the OBIE past April, believing the OBIE must continue in its current form for the short term to protect the integrity of the open banking industry.

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CFA Institute launches investment industry big data and AI guide

March 29, 2023

The CFA Institute, a global association of investment professionals, has introduced a guide for AI and Big Data services in investments, published by the CFA Institute Research Foundation. The guide details how asset managers use AI and big data technologies to streamline the investment process and enhance investments and business performance.

With contributions from data scientists and investment leaders at market leaders, the CFA Institute Research Foundation AI handbook provides a detailed insight into the investment industry’s adoption of data science to offer investment plans to deliver more resilient portfolios, make more informed trading decisions, streamline client plans, generating client-focused services and create additional business intelligence.

Margaret Franklin, the CEO of the CFA Institute, explains that their business considers the combination of AI and human intelligence a winning formula for success in finance in the future. As AI and big data solutions become more pronounced in financial markets, industry leaders must be well-prepared to effectively measure and incorporate these services. Franklin hopes the AI handbook will support the industry in adopting AI and big data solutions meaningfully to benefit their customers.

AI handbook details

The AI handbook is presented from the industry perspective, including real-world examples and tested solutions. Larry Cao, senior director of research at the CFA Institute, explains that industry requirements have expanded from asking for details on how AI and big data work to requesting an action plan supporting their business strategy as AI and ML measures become part of the mainstream. The AI guide is the latest in a series of research from the CFA Institute, focusing on supporting practitioners and policymakers with the necessary services to evaluate and implement AI and big data to the highest standards.

No single operating model for data science integration can work for all finance and asset management businesses. Technology must adapt to work for culture, structure, core values, budgets and strategic priorities. The guide will support companies in commencing, refining or planning the next stage of their data science vision.

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Women in Finance report highlights progress in female leadership

March 22, 2023

The latest Women in Finance report highlights how the finance industry is making positive changes toward increasing female representation in senior leadership roles in finance.

The report suggests that the average representation of women in senior roles increased to 35% in 20222 and that nearly three-quarters of signatories increased the number of women in senior management positions. Furthermore, the report suggests businesses are progressing toward their goals, with half setting a target of reaching 40%.

The HM Treasury introduced the Women in Finance Charter in 2016 and has published a review of the progress annually in partnership with the think tank New Financial. Certifiers of the Charter must declare their progress to the Treasury against their independent targets for women in senior management roles.

Overall this year’s report was very positive, with the main headlines including:

  • Average female representation increased to 35%, indicating an improved picture for Charter signatories, as this number remained at 33% in 2020 and 2021.
  • 77% of signatories have either increased (71%) or maintained (6%) their proportion of women in senior management.
  • Signatories’ targets are rising, with half (50%) setting a target of at least 40%.
  • Of the 73 signatories with a 2022 deadline, 44 hit their targets, and the remaining 29 missed, down from 31 in 2021. Of the 29 missing, 22 were close – within five percentage points or five appointments of hitting their targets.
  • For the first time since the Charter’s creation, the top quarter of firms (52) have achieved at least 40% female representation in senior management. 

Source: Women in Finance Charter Report gov. uk

In response to the report, Treasury Lords Minister Baroness Penn stated that the results were very positive and that the signatories have shown commitment to delivering on this agenda by utilising data, setting targets and working to develop and inspire the next generation of leaders. Baroness Penn believes the report should indicate progress and remind us to stay focused. Penn wants to ensure the Charter remains a tool for maintaining competition, innovation and productivity. 

Amanda Blanc, CEO at Aviva and Government Women in Finance Champion, explains that the results are encouraging but believes we must continue progressing to ensure lasting changes. It’s positive that leaders are accountable for diversity in their business and that data is used effectively to support this issue.

Blanc highlights that a quarter of businesses now have 40% of women in senior management roles. While this is promising, we must continue to do more to ensure we improve the rate of change to achieve permanent acceptance of women in finance. Yasmine Chinwala, partner at New Finance and the lead author of the report, believes the progress is evidence that the principles of the Charter work. They encourage businesses to focus on the challenge of female representation like other strategic areas, with a target, progress and accountability. 

The data suggests that more businesses are discovering the connection between diversity targets and pay is making a difference, with over 60% reporting that the link to pay has been effective. Creating this link to pay means diversity is increasingly recognised as a business issue rather than an independent or voluntary issue managed by D&I teams.

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Data fabric can create considerable value for CFOs

March 15, 2023

Many businesses today struggle to maintain pace with the demand for harnessing data for decision-making. A mix of legacy systems, lack of digital skills, underinvestment and mounting unstructured data are some of the main reasons which have left many organisations feeling quite limited in their ability to use data effectively.

Data challenges impact various teams, but the CFO and its finance team typically face additional challenges with the scrutiny around management and regulatory reporting. Furthermore, the finance function often plays a vital role in data with expectations to provide seamless data service for the rest of the business. 

The value of data fabric in finance

According to Gartner, data fabric is a data management design that allows augmented data integration and sharing across diverse data sources. Data fabric have become more common over the last few years with the rise of data sources, formats and silos. Gartner highlighted data fabric as a strategic priority tech trend in 2022 and predicts that by 2024, data fabric deployments will significantly improve data utilisation and reduce human-driven data management activities in half.

Data fabrics offer a centralised, single layer of interaction that bring data, regardless of location, in a process that doesn’t require duplication. The data fabric can manage the lifecycle of that data, applying active data to manage privacy policies and compliance via role-based access controls. 

The role of the CFO in the data fabric

For CFOs managing complex data and finance landscapes, using a data fabric provides easier access to data, increased performance and the ability to operate more efficiently and at a lower cost. 

Data fabrics empower finance and businesses to deliver data models and use data without the relevant coding skills. Traditionally, an application has a predefined data model, which means finance and IT teams must bring in data points from other systems and match them to predetermined models. This can be tedious as people find it challenging to fit existing data into rigid data models. Using data fabric enables teams to flexibly create a data model within finance through a process referred to as data cataloguing. This enables data models to be generated by finance experts rather than technical users. 

Added flexibility with data fabric

A data fabric methodology enables finance to be more flexible in a database application. Finance can apply the most relevant data storage tool that fits the purpose. Using a data fabric approach allows selections that ensure we access the best capabilities and performance. 

Reduced costs with finance

One benefit of data fabric is reducing the cost of finance functions by eliminating redundant storage systems. Considering the current economic challenges and the rise of cloud computing, this is a critical area for IT and finance leaders looking to deliver an efficient infrastructure that fulfils the requirements of the business. The decrease in data ‘lifting and sharing’ has reduced the number of integrations and points of failure, reducing the need to request IT support to tackle potential issues. 

Furthermore, CFOs can decrease the cost of finance by eliminating siloed finance teams validating, managing and reconciling multiple datasets for their purpose. A data fabric enables these activities to be centralised, resulting in a more cost-efficient finance department.

Gartner recently suggested that data fabrics have the potential to reduce data management activities by up to 70% and accelerate the time to value, which has significant implications for finance teams. From reducing the need to deliver point-to-point integrations between systems to reduce repetitive tasks, finance can reduce the time to value. 

Data fabrics enable extensions on top of core applications. Using a data fabric makes it easier to integrate other applications that use the same data set, assuring end users that their data is accurate. Data fabric is a strategic technology approach that offers considerable benefits to CFOs and their teams. From improving flexibility and performance to reducing the cost of finance, this is a vital technology that will provide business value.

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How women are making a difference in the data industry

March 8, 2023

With the next industrial revolution progressing, a considerable amount of new data is being created, stored and analysed daily. This information massively impacts our economy, workforce, culture and society. Our experiences, whether it be individually or collectively, are significantly influenced by data. 

We collectively create data, but as it stands, women account for only 26% of data and AI positions in the global workforce, with the gender gap continuing to expand at the senior level. This is a concerning statistic considering we are well aware of the impacts of data bias in recruitment, finance and other industries. 

Women in data have never been so critical in our data-focused world. Fortunately, several female leaders have contributed massively to the industry and have created the path for the next generation. For International Women’s Day, we should highlight women’s impact on the data industry.

Reducing the gender gap

While the industry does need to improve its image to STEM graduates, there are an increasing number of international projects supported by tech leaders like Google, Microsoft and Salesforce with backing from the World Economic Forum, aiming to improve gender equality in the industry. Successful female leaders like Fei-Fei Li, the founder of Stanford AI lab, have been doing great work improving diversity in data for several years. More women are joining their ranks and becoming role models and mentors, inspiring the next generation of young women looking to pursue a career in data and AI.

Reducing the gender gap goes beyond adapting recruitment processes and implementing gender and diversity targets. Industry leaders must ensure their company culture enables women to feel capable of voicing their opinions and providing the insights that often provide companies with a competitive advantage. Studies show that teams capable of rethinking their strategies based on the contribution of female employees are far more likely to deliver successful concepts. With the more female leader in the industry, we can generate opportunities for female contributors to succeed in ways other businesses won’t be able to ignore.


Promoting diversity in data

Women are advocating diversity and inclusion in data, tackling the current gender biases in industry. Thanks to an increasing number of women, businesses are implementing the necessary steps to eliminate data bias and provide alternatives when creating insights from big data. Pre-determined algorithms impact every part of our lives, so women must be involved to avoid widening the existing gender gap. Furthermore, women are improving business performance, with studies indicating those companies in the top 25% for gender diversity are 15% more likely to achieve their financial goals. Some of the most successful tech startups consist of twice as many women in senior positions than less successful tech companies.

Supporting data and innovation

Women in data are incorporating their skills and talent to deliver innovative solutions capable of tackling challenges and generating new ideas for a business that will shape the future of data and analytics. Businesses must focus on improving gender diversity within their data teams if they plan to be part of a growth market controlling more than £20 trillion of global consumer spending. Gender-diverse data teams can deliver a system recognising what female end-users want, allowing businesses to provide a far more effective service.

Data opportunities for women

A recent study by the World Economic Forum discovered that over 90% of employers intend to implement user and big data analytics, with data scientists and analysts considered one of the top ten emerging jobs. Many businesses have just started their data journeys and are now recognising the value of gender diversity. While there is progress with the number of women working in data, there remains a significant gender gap. Businesses and individuals must continue working on creating more opportunities for women in data. By doing this, we can deliver a more diverse and inclusive industry that supports everyone. 

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