Founder & CEO at datazuum
Samir is the CEO and Founder of datazuum, a data consulting group that helps clients create and implement impactful business data strategies. Our clients range from medium sized businesses through large multi-nationals. Since 2012, datazuum has been helping organisations create and implement data strategies, focusing on turning data into a strategic business asset.
Before datazuum, he managed early ERP and CRM implementations, then moved into running global data and analytics teams delivering large scale data transformations.
He is the host of “The Data Strategy Show” podcast series, a regular keynote speaker and panelist at international conferences.
Samir lives in London with his wife and daughter.
What attracted you to data management or IT, and why did you choose to pursue this career?
In 2002, I took on a global team of customer data analysts with the remit from the CEO to find some “insights from our data”. We began an exploration of customer data and how we might drive insights for the company. I was drawn into the analysis through asking key business questions and embarking on a period of intense collaboration with business leaders. It was a wild experience, and we built several new revenue streams, based on our analysis. That’s when I knew I loved what one could do with data!
What has been your greatest career accomplishment so far, and why has it been important to your career?
I would say it’s establishing my company datazuum in 2012 and working with our third client, a large postal and logistics company. Through creating and implementing the data strategy, we were able to help the client save more than £1m in their supply chain. From a commercial and operational perspective, it was an eye opener for the client’s internal teams who then realized the intense value of data. Data is much more than just bits and bytes, so achieving this type of business value in the early days proved the benefits from data transformation!
What are the two or three biggest challenges you face as a data management professional / CDO and how can we address them?
In our work with both CDOs and CIOs across our client, we typically see these top two challenges:
- Culture isn’t focused on when implementing the data strategy – we see this as one of the biggest impediments in successful data transformation. You can have the best technology solution, but, if you haven’t infused data into the culture, then it will ultimately fail. Focusing early on culture and change management is something we have been doing from the inception of datazuum.
- Many focus on technology instead of business decisions and outcomes – there is a lack of decision frameworks in many organisations that take into context the external and internal data inputs. This often leads to a disconnect between the outputs, outcomes, decision measurement, and business strategy feedback. Technology is an output and not the decision-making outcome. All organisations need to have a decision-based view through data to successfully drive the business strategy.
How do you see data management / the role of the CDO / IT changing in the next 2 – 3 years?
The CDO role has been in place for a long time now, with it going from CDO 1.0 (data governance mindset) to CDO 4.0 (generate value mindset). Unfortunately, there are still some CDOs grappling with adding value into the organisation.
The CDO for the future needs to be a “change agent” with a data mindset. This means they need to move beyond talking about data and focus on the changing landscape of the organisations business model. It goes back to the culture, instead of creating a data culture, the CDO needs to infuse data into the fabric of the organisation, changing mindsets and behaviours.
Do you have any planned next steps for your career?
Creating, running, and scaling datazuum has been quite a journey. One of the best things I’ve done in my life. 2020 was exciting as we started working with clients in the US which has been a great evolution for the firm. One of the areas that I’ve enjoyed is launching my podcast “The Data Strategy Show” and realizing that this has been one of my passions, as I’ve always loved to be on stage delivering keynotes, or interviewing people. My ultimate dream is to take the podcast onto a TV format, now that would be super cool!
What is the single best piece of advice you have received in your data management / IT career so far? Why has it been so important to you?
One of my mentors told me that work and life is all about creating lasting relationships, being true and honest to oneself and to others. If you can do this then you will get trust from those that you work for, your clients, and ultimately friends! As simple as that!
Can you share something about yourself as a person that people wouldn’t know about you?
Ha! A lot of folks may not know this about me! While I was at Christies, I trained as a charity auctioneer and in 2007 I sold the world’s largest white Tuscan truffle at a charity auction in Macau for $330,000! I’ve been a trained auctioneer since 2002, and have raised a total of approx. $4m for charities around the world.
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