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5 Minutes With Ollie Wood

24th Feb 2016 Joanna Cockle

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What are your digital / technology priorities for the year ahead?

This year I am absolutely focusing on Data Science & Analytics, which has been made a strategic priority for many businesses, despite being understood by so few and has been relatively immature in its application to date. I have made it my mission to get a deep understanding of how each industry is applying Data Science and Analytics to each of their business areas and the technologies they are using to extract the insights and ultimately make their business more predictable. This is a highly complex area but much easier to deal with once mapped out.

Which brands or businesses are using digital / technology to its full potential and how?

Airbnb is a particular favourite of mine. They have used disruptive technology to make a global online marketplace for vacation rentals. They use simple data visualization tools for their hosts to help them manage their properties better, they have an especially efficient messaging system and their platforms are impressively accessible and consistent across multiple touch points. I would not be surprised if the technologies employed in Airbnb are soon applied to disrupt another market.

What emerging technologies or trends should people be aware of?

Networks are going through a quiet revolution that most of us will feel the benefits of, even if we don’t know it is happening. In particular the 5G developments which most OECD countries will start to see come into play around 2020. Alongside this Software Defined Networking and Network Function Virtualization will allow for more secure and efficient Network management and faster integration of new services and technologies in the future. This will go a long way to impact on the ability to manage the massive data flow available and allow easier extraction of useful insights. As a result, the maturation of the Data Science and Analytics conversation is a major trend that I can see will last a fair few years.

How are people’s roles and positions in companies changing with the emergence of digital and technology?

I am firmly of the belief that the digitalization of businesses and technical disruption of industries is forcing the hand of companies to put technology at the centre of their strategies. It is no longer good enough to have a vague idea of how technology affects your industry and its respective horizontals. More specifically, we are seeing a lot of new CXO positions emerging to having a constant eye over the technical progression of the business, where that X could be Digital, Transformation, Analytics, Strategy amongst others. Obviously, in particular, I have seen a sharp rise in the use of titles including Data, Data Science or Analytics.

What’s the best piece of innovation you have seen in recent time and why?

Is hard to pick just one, but the fast rise of mobility over the last few years has clearly revolutionized the way we are able to live and work. The continuous availability of an internet connection paved the way for instant messaging, an explosion in the use of various social media platforms, our ability to do business on the move and collect far more data – for better or worse.

How has employee engagement changed in recent times and how do you ensure that you have the highest levels among your employees?

Employee engagement seems to have matured to a point where a traditional hierarchical structure with rigid communication channels are inefficient, ineffective and ultimately, costly. Being willing and open to conversation with employees on multiple levels and being be accountable and a good amount of feedback allows a leader gain a quick understanding of where the strong and weak points of their business are – those who do not engage will lose their employees fast and cost their business a great deal.

What is your favourite local food?

Curry Chicken Rice on a hangover, Bah Kuh Teh for comfort and Durian for a treat.

Where is your favourite place to travel?

I love visiting India for something that’ll throw all my assumptions to the wall and to throw myself into experiences of epic proportions. If it’s just for relaxation and feeling utterly at ease then I’ll opt for Taiwan.