Kay Vicino, Chief Data Officer, Northern Trust, and Rui Carvalho, Managing Director, Enterprise Solutions for S&P Capital IQ, discussed the emergence of Chief Data Officers at more institutions now and the key aspects of a good data strategy.
Rui Carvalho: To start with some background, you spent your first several years at Northern Trust in technology, and more recently made a shift from technology to operations management. Is this a reflection of the advancement of technology over the past two decades? And how has your role changed given that you’re now reporting to operations?
Kay Vicino: I’ll start with the first question: is this a reflection of the advancement of information technology? I would say in the data space you do find a lot of people that move back and forth between technology and operations, and think that because of its more technical nature that data lends itself well for people to have a career in both technology and operations. That tends to be why you will see people starting in technology and then moving into operations. I know that many of my colleagues in the industry started in technology.
When it comes to the second question about how my role has changed now that I report into operations and technology, I’ll answer that in two ways. Currently, I still manage an operations group, and that is a dramatic shift from obviously being in technology, so I’m not going to go into that in too much detail. Managing an operations group is very different than being in technology. What I want to focus on is the CDO role and the fact that it is very different than an operations manager’s job. It’s much more strategic in nature, and you are participating in wider circles than you would in a traditional operations and technology manager’s position. The nature of your day-to-day job is also very different. It’s exciting and very diverse. The issues can be answering a regulatory question or looking at how you are growing the business. It’s a very exciting time to be a CDO.
I come from a data background myself, and I’m very encouraged to see the role of the Chief Data Officer emerge at our largest institutions and become a mainstay in the capital markets. What is your opinion about the shift in responsibilities for data governance away from the CIO/CTO office to this unique CDO role? Is that one of the core requirements that you see for this role?
I’ve always been a very strong proponent of the role of driving data, and I’ll say that driving the data agenda should not be coming from technology. I used to be in technology, and technology wasn’t able to sufficiently drive that agenda. You’re much more efficient and better able to do that when you’re working with the business and when you’re seen as a representative of the business, and I just don’t think the CTO or the CIO is able to do that effectively. A CTO’s or CIO’s agenda tends to be driven more by technology, and when you’re more aligned with the business you’re having a different conversation. And so when I came over into operations – or the CDO role as it’s now being described – the conversation doesn’t start around technology but is more about the business strategy, enabling the business or dealing with regulation. We then get to a conversation around technology, versus if the CIO or CTO starts the conversation, it tends to start with technology.
“We see value in targeted information externally more so than the traditional retail view as we are not a large scale retail player. We will enrich our internal content with value add external content to create an improved experience for our clients.”
When it comes to Northern Trust, how did the CDO position come about, because it’s fairly new and recent? Was this something that you drove, and was there a market event post-2008 that spurred it?
We’ve had many people in the business focus on data, and when I say the business, I’m including operations. However, they’ve been more siloed in nature, and as we’ve grown as an organization, our clients have become much more global and our businesses much more complex, we’ve recognized the power in looking at data as an enterprise asset. Over the course of time, you can try and do this virtually, or by creating large groups that own the end-to-end process. This is not scalable. We needed to treat data as a corporate asset, to care for it, feed it and invest in it. It is what’s driving our strategic view, and is what drove us to put a CDO in place. We really feel that the big differentiator for companies going forward.
If I were to ask you what Northern Trust’s data strategy is, what would your answer be?
It’s a multi-pronged strategy. You first have to ensure that you have what I would call a good defensive strategy or that you have good, credible, data. I’ve always said its fit for purpose, which means good data governance and data quality, end to end, across the enterprise. Again, we have great data that, when you look at it for what its original intent was, it is good quality, but as an organization continues to grow and evolve, sometimes the data doesn’t grow and evolve appropriately.
So good data governance is one key component of our strategy, the other is lifecycle management. Many are finding that there’s this tremendous opportunity around retention policies: what data should be kept, versus what should be archived versus what you should be gotten rid of? Then the third prong is obviously your security and privacy, while the last is what I call our offensive strategy, which is the go-forward view.
I’m always about seeing what big data means to different people, because I never seem to get a consistent definition. How do Northern Trust and you personally define it, and what concerns do you have about it?
I’ve centered on the definition that IBM has been using out there, which is that there are four V’s concerning data: volume, variety, velocity and veracity; i.e. how trusted is that source? Under its truest definition, the variety is the one that we all quibble over. Is the true definition of big data when you’re really combining unstructured and structure content, and is it data that’s coming from an external source versus an internal source? People tend to think of it as the social media content versus your internal data, but at Northern, I don’t get too caught up in the definition to be honest. I tend not to use the term “big data.”
“We needed to treat data as a corporate asset, to care for it, feed it and invest in it. It is what’s driving our strategic view, and is what drove us to put a CDO in place. We really feel that the big differentiator for companies going forward.”
A lot of folks in our area see data management as an expense problem, but what are the opportunities there as well?
I see two kinds of opportunities. One is the tools for big data. The opportunity is in dealing with data integration, building our warehouses, etc. That’s an area that we’re strongly looking at regardless of the definition of big data. Internally we have an awful lot of information and we do a lot of integration of data, so we see an opportunity in cost savings as well as processing savings by using big data tools.
The second opportunity is from a content perspective. For Northern Trust, we see value in targeted information externally more so than the traditional retail view as we are not a large scale retail player. We will enrich our internal content with value add external content to create an improved experience for our clients.
Like any other capital markets institution you buy a lot of data, you create your own data, you distribute that data internally across your organization. What is your philosophy around data quality, and do you have a program in place?
We do have a data quality program in place today. We actually started that a couple of years ago, and with these programs around data quality it’s an iterative process. One philosophy is to ensure that we are delivering credible data fit for purpose to our consumers. So what does that really mean? First, you obviously start with what are the critical or important fields? Then you find out from the consumers of that data what fit-for-purpose means for them. We use the EDM council framework of the dimensions of data quality, and we work with our data consumers to ask what does accuracy mean to them for these fields? We’ve worked with our data consumers to define data credibility, and then we measure it, profile it, remediate it and make sure that we track it on an ongoing basis to ensure that we are delivering credible data to them.
Kay Vicino is a Senior Vice President with over 20 years of financial services experience working for Northern Trust. Northern Trust is a global institution providing trust, custody investment management and banking services to individual and institutional clients throughout the world. We are located in offices throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. Kay’s current role is Chief Data Officer, leading the creation of an enterprise data and information management office driving strategy, policy, standards and measurements to create value for the corporation.
Professional and Industry Experience:
Kay has broad global operations and technical experience with a strong background in leading transformation. She created 3 global shared services for reference data and reconciliations spanning 5 countries supporting 90+ markets. Additionally she has led multi jurisdiction acquisitions, new technology innovation and large enterprise initiatives.
Kay also is an active participant in the industry, she shares her knowledge and experiences at many conferences, as well is a member of the EDM Council
On a personal front, Kay is a strong advocate of mentoring young professionals, and diversity. She is an executive coach to college students at local universities, as well as non-for profits in the Chicago area.
Rui Carvalho is the Managing Director of Enterprise Products, reporting to the Executive Managing Director of Enterprise Solutions (ES). Our mission at Enterprise Solutions is to lead S&P Capital IQ towards greater efficiency, accessibility and value creation in its data commercialization efforts.
Enterprise Solutions is the data feed and on-demand products and content licensing business for S&P Capital IQ. In addition to the existing data feed products, Enterprise Solutions is bringing to market new and integrated on-demand technologies to distribute S&P Capital IQ’s content.
Before his career at S&P Capital IQ, Rui Carvalho was vice president and global head of Fundamentals, Corporate Actions and Public Equity Offerings Content. In his eleven years at Reuters, Rui managed both global data operations and regional quality groups. During his tenure Rui led various data operations transformational projects in India, China, Poland and Cyprus. Most recently, Rui was based in Singapore, where he led strategic data operations executions for the Asia Pacific and Emerging regions, including the Reuters Japan, Middle East, India and Vietnam Growth Strategies for the Research and Asset Management Segment.
Rui is located in New York.