Digital Transformation in the Telecommunications Space

Digital transformation in the telecommunications industry is the digitalisation of services offered by telco companies such as text messaging and calling, offered through various competitor apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook and WeChat. The introduction of these apps is a threat to the telecommunications industry not only because it offers direct competition, but also because these competitor companies are often driven by strong customer relationships and brand loyalty. It is much more difficult for a telco to build brand loyalty through services considered “traditional” today with the onset of apps that have grown to be more popular.

To overcome this, telcos must engage their customers to build loyalty and improve services to outdo those offered by competitors. One way to do this is by providing services that are likely to build brand loyalty such as smart home and e-health services that allow the customer to do more than make calls and send messages.

Netherland’s KPN introduced the Asian social networking app – ‘WeChat’ to its network. This partnership enabled their customers to use WeChat’s payment app, buy tickets and make hotel reservations. It has also enabled the network to cater to over hundreds of thousands of Chinese visitors – the country of WeChat’s origin. KPN started their transformation by digitising their business. They consolidated backend systems and unified the digital layer. The process started at the front end and worked with cloud technology and open-source software. [1]

Furthermore, telcos must use traditional services for non-traditional outcomes and applications in IoT settings, such as by building partnerships with health insurance companies to offer e-health services or with home electronics manufacturers to offer connected home services. Hua Liang, Chairman of the Chinese Information and Communication Technology company Huawei, estimates that in 2025 digital services will be 20% of the revenue of the telecoms industry.  [2]

Many telecommunications companies already offer unlimited data plans to attract customers, however, telcos will now need to take a step further by offering a specialised customer experience, flexibility in plans and personalised services. This will further meet consumer demands and build a loyal customer base.

Turkcell, a Turkish mobile phone operator, say they have been changing from ‘being an infrastructure player to being a real digital operator.’ Their decision to begin a transformation journey began when they analysed their customer consumption pattern.

Their average customer spends 3.5x more time on the internet, music, and television viewing than making phone calls. To capitalise on these customers who comprise of about 70% of their total customers, Turkcell launched a digital arm – Lifecell – similar to the social networks, WhatsApp and Facebook. They even developed their own search engine – Yaani. Today, 20% of their customers are on their own e-commerce platform. By not being afraid of data growth, Turkcell has diversified their source of revenue. LifeCell’s core suite of nine digital apps has been downloaded over 80 million times, serving more than half of Turkcell’s customers. This transformation has allowed Turkcell increase revenues by over 50% in the last two years. [3]

Some of the ways telcos can maximise their chances of success in the age of digital transformation are through data analytics, machine learning, and better software. Data analytics, for example, can be used to collect information about network usage patterns to create solutions to future problems like network overloading. Combining this with machine learning, telcos can begin to predict when their network is likely to be overloaded and adjust their capacity in a precautionary manner to offer the best service. Better software will also increase network performance and improve efficiency, even by using existing hardware, allowing companies to save costs and improve profitability in the long-run.

Deutsche Telekom has launched a Pan-net unit that is designed to transform its national operations outside of Germany. Their services to be transformed “started with easiest, such as messaging and voice over Wifi”, and on the business-to-business side, it started with secure cloud services before moving on to cloud-based customer premises equipment. They now have 160 million unique users. [4]

DT in the Telco space is pushing even hardware makers to embrace the change. Finnish mobile hardware seller Nokia has partnered with Infosys to help enterprises digitalize business and operational processes for communications, media, and entertainment companies. This strategy helps Nokia of expanding its customer base outside of the traditional telco sphere, as this will help them diversify into the smart education market, leveraging wireless broadband, cloud and IoT technologies to create digital education solutions. [5]

A business transformation centered around enhancing the customer experience always wins. The telecommunications industry is no exception. Data explosion, soon to be introduced 5G, cloud computing, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, are all redefining customer engagement and usage of telco networks.



[2, 4]




The impact of 5G technology on Telecommunications industry

The evolution of cellular mobile networks – from 2G when text messaging and mobile data were first offered at the kbps scale, to 3G where faster transmission of data including the ability to video call was available, to 4G which offered even higher data transmission rates at the mbps scale – has resulted in a tremendous growth of the telecommunications industry. With this growth, we have seen greater traffic in cellular mobile networks which, between 2012 and 2016, increased at a compound annual growth rate of 78% [1]. While managing high mobile traffic remains challenging for telecoms companies, the industry is now meeting demands for high data transmission rates with its incoming 5G technology.

5G – the fifth generation of the cellular mobile networks – is expected to release in 2019 and 2020. Built upon the success of 2G and 3G, 5G is expected to bring about a revolution in not just the telecommunications industry, but also advance technologies incorporating IoT (Internet of Things). Moving from the lab to our wireless networks next year, 5G is expected to create strides in the development of smart cities, autonomous vehicles and provide remote healthcare. 5G will enable disruptive technologies to enter the market, including the development of augmented and virtual reality projects.  

Spectacular speed

While 4G can reach speeds up to 100 mbps, it is expected that 5G will enable speeds up to 10,000 mbps, changing the scale at which telecommunications currently operates at. With more power and improved efficiency, 5G may be the pathway towards connecting the world with greater ease, allowing for HD and ultra HD video streaming at faster rates. In addition to improving broadband speed in an era of ever-increasing mobile traffic, 5G will improve user experience while augmenting current LTE (long-term evolution) networks and perhaps even completely replace them in the future.

5G may be a solution to some of the challenges the telecommunications industry currently faces, including the growth in data consumption, resulting from an increase in the use of mobile phones and other devices utilising mobile data. With 5G, mobile operators are aiming to reduce the cost of data delivery which aims to improve the overall efficiency of providing data to customers. 5G will also focus on connecting machines through IoT, however, this is an area which will need further development from the current 5G standard that is being released next year.

The expectation

The onset of the 3G mobile network brought about GPS (Global Positioning System), allowing businesses such as Uber and Deliveroo to offer services that quickly became game-changers in their respective markets. 5G is expected to offer even greater speeds of up to gigabyte per second rates which will enhance the overall user experience. While 5G promises to be nothing less than a universal access network, it is still uncertain how far will it live up to this promise and how quickly it may be adopted by network providers worldwide. While wireless internet has had a great impact on the growth of mobile data users, pointing to the need for higher speeds and efficiency, the real challenge for the adoption of 5G by cellular networks will be in the management of data traffic, for which the telecommunications industry is now preparing for a 1000-fold increase in by 2020 [1].

[1] S. Chen and J. Zhao, “The requirements, challenges, and technologies for 5G of terrestrial mobile telecommunication,” IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 52, no. 5, pp. 36–43, 2014.

Why businesses should adopt automation

Automation in the workplace is the use of robotics and control systems to allow seamless and autonomous operation. While the industrial revolution introduced automation in manufacturing – such as the use of robots on the shop floor for the assembly of automobile parts – automation is now receiving attention for its potential to add value to business processes in other sectors.

In fact, automation in the workplace, also known as Business Process Automation (BPA), is a transformative step taken towards streamlining business processes and effectively making things clearer and easier to understand. BPA offers better efficiency, whether it be through automated communication, data storage or procurement. Businesses can improve the quality of their service by streamlining processes, achieving objectives more quickly and delivering service faster. Automation has greatly improved the customer experience at Amazon, for example, by increasing sales through the reduction of shopping time and greater turnaround of orders with next-day Prime delivery.

Automation allows businesses to scale-up quickly and efficiently. In the recently introduced Prime Air scheme, Amazon aims to deliver orders within 30 minutes1. The product is retrieved from the warehouse by a robot and delivered to the customer by an autonomous drone. Automated drone delivery using GPS has also helped deliver life-saving medication, vaccines and blood for transfusions to rural regions in Rwanda, saving many lives as an outcome2.

Automation is now entering all sectors, including the life sciences where companies like Gingko Bioworks3 are reducing labourious manual work in the design of customized microorganisms. This not only improves the designing efficiency but also means that the company can take on more projects which is especially relevant when starting-up.

Additionally, adjusting the culture of your organization to welcome and adopt new technologies in this digital age can boost the longevity of your business. Here are some other ways in which automation can help:

  1. Applications that offer integrated analytics: these are tools that predict the outcome of business decisions through analysis of previous data and recommend solutions to problems.
  2. “Intelligent automation” is the combination of artificial intelligence and automation. Through machine learning, a business can build self-learning tools that generate trends from their data.
  3. Reduced manual efforts: giving robots or drones the trusted independence of performing a job that could be done by a human is saving time for an employee to do a task that could be more fulfilling and bring more value to the business.

While automation may be viewed as a replacement for human labour, it is a way in which businesses can reduce costs and allow individuals to focus on tasks requiring emotional intelligence. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can help alleviate routine tasks and allow individuals to focus on their career goals in the business. Not only is this beneficial to the individual, but also to the company such that the individual is now more likely to work with a creative and self-fulfilling mindset, allowing for a healthier work environment that encourages others around them to feel the same. In the long run, this creates a happier workforce which is key to a successful business.

We have come far from using automation solely on the shop floor to moving this technology into our offices. With applications far and wide, automation offers value to businesses in every sector of the economy, generating efficiency and reducing costs.





Back to the Future – People really are a company’s most valuable asset

Albert Kalaja, COO, Hidden Cove Solutions, writes about his experience on People, growth and change management:

Talk to most successful business people and they’ll tell you that creating a successful business is all about having a unique product or service, a strong online presence, financial stability and excellent customer service.

They might even add that having the right systems, software and processes will contribute to making the business successful.

Those things are the hallmarks of a successful business but it’s not why those businesses are successful.

When you analyse it, you realise that the logistics, operations, systems, products and even business models can be copied by competitors.  And it’s not just competitors that could be copying you, because start-ups can quite easily establish themselves in this digital age at the fraction of the cost that it once did and be competing for your market share, virtually overnight.

So, what can’t be copied? – it’s the people who work for you.

Companies can do their best to be unique, but at the end of the day, it is the people behind the organisation, running and working in the company that makes the difference.  It really is – isn’t it?

Now I believe that I first heard the phrase “Our people are our most valuable asset” back in the late 70’s. The phrase may have even been coined long before then. To me, the phrase acknowledged the importance that people played in the fortunes of the business in which they worked.

However, during the next 30 years of my working life, I realised that the phrase was more a platitude than anything else.  A one-line slogan that sounded good.  Management would apply conventional capital asset thinking and treat people purely as something else to measure for ROI etc. Those were the years where organisations were exclusively hierarchical and were run under command-and-control structures.

Just before writing this post I thought I would google the phrase “people are our most valuable asset” out of interest.  I obtained over 12,000 hits. And so many of those hits were on articles which themselves quite often had over 100 comments. A lot of people have experienced the lip-service given to phrase. There were many comments from people not wanting to be referred to as “resources” or being used as a resource.   There were other comments from people saying that those companies that did value their people did it through actions and not by uttering the platitude or by having it in their mission statement.

The sincerity and genuineness of the sentiment are important and so is the language that’s used to express that sentiment.

I saw one post that offered this as an alternative phrase “Our people are our greatest strength”

So – have things changed?  Are people now truly valued by the organisations in which they work?

Is this age of digital disruption and of being Agile changing the way people are viewed by their organisations?  If there is a change, then is it simply because there are newer generations of managers with different attitudes and values that are running those organisations?

What do you think?

Hidden Cove: The journey so far and ahead

It all started 13 years ago when Vivek Aiyer, a 28-year-old network engineer decided to take the entrepreneurial leap by creating new software-based tools to efficiently rollout 3G related hardware.

‘I have always been innately curious about people and technology. Whether it’s about how something works or what steps someone takes to do their job – I’m always thinking how it can be done better. I love connecting the dots to see how different pieces fit together for a better outcome. The inception of Hidden Cove as a technology business arose from this thought. We started the business just prior to the advent of 3G network technology. I saw immense potential in these technologies and started to carve a niche in designing and developing efficient service enablement tools and processes to help with the roll out of 3G related hardware. This was a great first step for Hidden Cove and provided the foundation for our growth’ explains Vivek Aiyer, Founder-CEO of Hidden Cove Solutions and Appearition.

This is how Hidden Cove began its journey in 2005.  Vivek saw a need and then designed and built the software which improved efficiencies, reduced error rates and overall made life easier for the staff involved in the rollout processes.  In hindsight, Hidden Cove’s first engagement was the birth of its mission, ‘to enable the success of others.’

From being a humble four-person operation, the company has grown to a business with a multi-million-dollar turnover and engaged on projects for the likes of Telstra, Visionstream, CROCS, Ericsson, Motorola and Raytheon to mention a few. “We always become very excited when creating and adding value to our customers’ business,” says Vivek.

It may sound very cliched and all too obvious but Vivek strongly believes that satisfying customer needs and helping them to solve their problems is at the heart of being a successful business.

Vivek believes that it is only by driving innovation, that Hidden Cove is able to solve and satisfy its customer’s needs and requirements.  ‘We ask our customers for feedback following every engagement and we are so pleased to say that they consider us to be responsive, reliable and knowledgeable.” It makes me very proud to hear those words from our customers.  That is what we stand for.’

Albert Kalaja joined Hidden Cove in December 2016 as its COO, just as it was about to embark on its next period of growth   Albert and Vivek had first met in 2008 when they were both involved with TiE.

‘The company’s mission of enabling the success of others resonated with Albert.  Success can come in all forms and not only applies to our customers but to everyone in our eco-system. It includes our staff, our collaboration partners, joint venture partners, and suppliers. We believe that this is what provides our own success,’ says Kalaja.

Hidden Cove believes that being customer-centric must be a part of everyone’s DNA at work and not the job of just one department to cater to customers. ‘It is very important to examine and understand what the customer values the most.  These days customers aren’t wanting the prestige that comes with being the first to have something new or shiny. They want to enhance what they do and how they do it. A lot of our plans arise from our conversations with our customers. It pays to listen,’ explains Aiyer.

Further, Hidden Cove has the distinction of onboarding long-term customers. Kalaja adds, ‘from start-up enterprises to million-dollar clients, our ability to serve them beyond just one project or one service has brought longevity to our relationships.’

In fundamental terms, Hidden Cove is a technical professional services firm that helps companies implement solutions. ‘We work at our best when we fully understand a customer’s challenge and innovate accordingly” shares Kalaja.

The Future

The team is closely looking at Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and building expertise in that area. RPA is all about the rapid automation of administrative processes – with or without the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Unlike traditional application software, the robotic software creates a digital workforce that runs application software in the same way a user does. It operates on top of existing applications and orchestrates other application software through the existing application’s user interface.

We will bring RPA to the Telco space first – the industry where we have the most subject matter expertise, but we will quickly hit the Utilities thereafter.’ Kalaja briefs.

Hidden Cove will continue to focus on enabling the success of its customers.

Why you need to know about AR if you are in telco

Are you ready for the onslaught of Augmented Reality (AR)? You may be aware of Virtual Reality (VR), which is related, but not the same. Perhaps you are familiar with Pokémon Go, which is an example of AR being used for entertainment. If you work in the telecommunications industry, you can expect AR to affect your professional life too – it’s not only about gaming.

Let’s look initially at the distinction between these two emerging technologies. VR simulates the user’s physical presence in the real world or an imagined world. The experience of VR is akin to watching a movie, but with a greater sense of reality. AR differs in that it brings a combination of computer generated content such as video, audio and graphics to a real-time, real-world environment.

For the telecommunications industry, the implications of the growth in AR are twofold. Firstly, it is clear that telecommunications companies will use AR for their own needs. The other area of interest is the new and expanded infrastructure that will be required in order to meet bandwidth-hungry applications in industries as diverse as gaming, tourism and the military.

AR in telecommunications operations

Imagine a field technician on site, investigating a fault after being called out by the telecommunications company’s operations centre. With the benefit of AR, the technician brings all necessary data and repair instructions to a phone or tablet. As the device is geo-tagged, the data is specific to the equipment being repaired, right down to correct versions of software to be used.

When it comes to the demand for new infrastructure to support AR, the requirement for bandwidth will put a strain on last-mile networks says Alexandre Pelletier, Head of Innovations at Tata Communications. However, not all network providers see this as a landline issue. In Africa, where mobile prevails, EON Reality, Orange Telecom France, Mauritius Telecom, and State Informatics Limited (SIL) have formed a partnership to bring AR (and VR) to the region’s mobile subscribers.

In Australia, we are more likely to see a mix of solutions. While the technology is still developing, one thing is clear. AR is on the way, and telecommunications providers who ignore it will do so at their peril.

The one thing you can do for your Company

People are the difference !!!

Up until recently, if you spoke to most successful business people, they would have told you that creating a successful business is all about having a unique product or service, a strong online presence, financial stability, excellent customer service and a good team.

They might even have added that having the right systems, software and processes will contribute to making the business successful.  That’s all true but do they make the greatest contribution?

When you analyse it, you realise that logistics, operations, systems, products and even business models can be copied by competitors.  What can’t be copied is the people who work for you.  

Companies can do their best to be unique, but at the end of the day it is the people behind the organisation, running and working in the company, using computers and on the phones that the difference.

The CEO’s and leadership teams of companies have to give more than lip-service to the much-vaunted phrase that “people are our most important asset”. Without wanting to sound too dramatic, their company’s very survival depends on their genuine commitment to attract and maintain an engaged, aligned and committed workforce.

We understand that at HiddenCove.  We are committed to sustaining a culture that is focussed on the foundation of enabling the success of others.  A culture that helps to attract amazing people into our fold because as an organisation we help individuals to amplify their abilities and to do their best work.

The cornerstone of our culture is what we call “Be Aware” and you don’t have to join Hiddencove to be aware.  

Those two words can have a dramatic impact on our own behaviour, that of others and the outcomes that result.

We ask everyone in our organisation to think what their world would be like if they were fully aware of the contribution they can make to every situation in which they are involved?

We ask them to “Be Aware”

  • of how they turn up. Are they present in the moment?  Are they enthusiastic and engaged?
  • of what needs to be done. What can they do to be a valuable contributor?
  • of the people around them.  What pressures are those people feeling?
  • of the perspective of others.  How can they overcome their built-in bias and create a better outcome?  
  • that everyone has good ideas.  How can they be open-minded and create a better outcome?
  • of what success look like for the client. How can they remind themselves of the bigger picture?

So what we must do is be aware of our side of the equation of our interations with our team members, our clients, our partners….everyone……be aware of our responsibility and BE that way.

Is Cold Calling Ruining The Recruitment Industry?

When I hear of recruiters who chase the sales rather than work with a client in a mutual relationship, a piece of me dies. Similarly, when I get told that the only people agencies look for are ‘hungry sales people’, I feel the annoyance factor reaching critical levels.

Then, compounding this is something I heard direct from a senior manager in one recruitment firm when he said “recruiters are farmers or hunters, there is no in-between”, gathering as I did in my non-metaphoric understanding way, that “farmers” are the relationship builders (generally account managers and similar), whilst the “hunter” is the phone jockey, the impression I got was the ‘hunter’ was far more preferred than the ‘farmer’.

Now that I am in the unique position of being able to view the industry from all sides, I find the true extent of where the recruitment industry has headed and is heading…and frankly it leaves me confused. Whilst all businesses in the current economy are changing and evolving into a more relationship / quality driven scope, I find the recruitment industry has largely not kept pace with the greater changes in business and are instead insisting on the old, antiquated methods of sourcing – and keeping – clients.

One, also, has only to look at the overall changes in sales practice, and the newer methods of doing so, to realise that the old ways are for the scrapheap, and the ones that fail to adjust accordingly will be left on the shelf.

Before continuing, I want to affirm that I am most certainly not anti-sales. Quite the contrary, sales are vital for any business (or agency) and it must be a central part to any strategy to improve client numbers and overall revenue. What I do arc up on is the methodology used, and more centrally, the insistence of only one method of selling. Phone selling, too, is useful, but only under certain circumstances, and as I see it, certainly not when it comes to establishing new business.

Cold calling is intrusive. It is a relic of both a past ideology when this was the norm, as well as an imported belief system that this is the only means to drive business. This is absolute baloney. If recruiters are still in 1985, there may be some validity. If they are sitting in an office in down-town London, then you would concur it is the best form of sales. But this is Australia, 2013. Business demand that intrusive calls, especially from recruiters are not acceptable. As with a lot of areas in business, they are demanding relationship-based selling. There is no room for a wham! Bam! sales approach where the in-out, never to hear from again process is as antiquated as the phone itself. The demand is that recruiters leave the phone alone and engage them on a more face-to-face level. Whether it be networking, presentations or similar, the phone is used merely as the follow up device, not the initiator.

What really grates is that there is still recruiters (and rec-to-recs) who believe phone-based cold business development is one – nay, the ONLY – way to sell. These are the same that believe in the churn and burn mentality. Who believe that candidates are the commodity to close the sales with and relationships are best left to lovers and family. There is no room for growth with a client unless it means a greater profit in the end. And in the end, if they burn the client, well they just move on to the next one as if it is of no consequence whatsoever.

This behaviour is the EXACT reason why the industry has a rotten reputation in the market, why employee turnover fluctuates between 45 and 49% (one of the highest in the commercial world) and why businesses are internalising their recruitment function. The business world is actively avoiding the recruitment industry simply because sections of the industry refuse to join the new, real world and subsequently burn other recruiters trying to buck that trend. It is evidential in the number of internal recruitment positions advertised and the falling numbers of in-the-market candidates for agency roles. In addition, read any business forum that subjects recruiters to scrutiny, and it is overwhelming negative in almost all cases. A quick Google search will confirm that.

Evidently, those recruiters that actively encourage (demand?) compliance on cold-calling are also the ones that can be labelled as cowboys. They drive animosity towards the industry from the cold-call to the physical interaction with clients and candidates. They usually find no reasoning to treat candidates in a clearly defined and careful approach and choose to burn anyone who stands in the way of them and dollars. Conversely (and surprisingly common), they hold over their employees KPI’s that can be classed as restrictive at best and punitive at worst. The churn and burn mentality applies as much to the way they run their businesses as it does their outside approach. When their negative reputation increases, the claim they can’t find any “decent” employees reaches a shrill. Their regressive approach is merely looked upon as comeuppance by the greater business community.

This stupidity means that the wider industry’s reliance on the cold-calling model, so outdated in a modern business context is placing it on a dangerous path. This unequivocal insistence is more likely to create obsolescence of the agency model and a collapse of the industry.

But, hey, if it creates the wonderful profits and massive salaries…

ADDENDUM: With the recent collapse of Hamilton James Bruce, one agency who has indulged in the above, I wonder if this article is prophetic in it’s conclusion?

How Do You Hire On Fit…When Surrounded By Panic? 6 Tips To Consider

Slowly, ever so slowly, the realisation is surfacing amongst some businesses that hiring with fit in mind – character, attributes, behaviours that fit the overall culture of the organisation – is paramount in ensuring not only a successful hire, but a solidly engaged employee from day one.

Yet, other businesses still fall for a panic-induced hire – overlooking the fit of a candidate for a role and instead opting for an immediate hit of skills to suffice an immediate need, without realising (or caring about) the longer-term issues that could arise. It’s like a craving for chocolate – the immediate hit of yumminess is bliss…yet the later effects of calories, weight or sugar, doesn’t enter the equation when the craving hits.

So within this, we have an impasse: on one hand, the realisation of the importance of fit is there, but there is still the overriding sense of panic and the quick fix that comes as a result of it.

So how do we do it? How, amongst the panic and stress of a vacant seat in the office or station on the floor, do we put care into the hiring process and incorporate fit into candidate requirements?

It’s not easy.

However, put these ideas in place, and it will be a lot easier (and far more successful):

1. Know Your Culture

Do you know what makes your team click? Have you properly defined how your employees are engaged? Do you know the importance of an engaged workplace? What are the behaviours, traits or characteristics that make your team cohesive? If you can’t answer these, you are not going to be able to hire against it. Not at all.

2. Time is Key

Seemingly the antithesis of panic, the fact that time creates great outcomes should not be discounted. Give yourself time to plan, source and select with care. Whilst the sense of overriding pressure to find someone will be very strong, the importance of getting it right first time cannot be undervalued.

Remember this – get it wrong, you will be doing it again…and again. The costs just in that repetitive process will be high, even before time drains will kick in

3. Plan Plan Plan

Along with allowing time to hire right comes the need to plan accordingly and to do so even before a hiring need arises. A good decision is based on proper accumulation of information about a candidate to qualify this decision. This information will only be properly attained by ensuring all step of a hiring process are carried through properly, and these steps are part of an overall hiring plan. The plan should be an integral part of the overall business plan, ready to be referred to the moment the needs arise.

4. Source Candidates Before You Need Them

Planning also caters to the times when a need to fill a role is not immediate. Using the time to identify potential candidates that may be either in the market and identifiable via social media or internal referral systems. Just like recruitment agencies have databases of potential candidates, so too can employers do the same to ensure there is a ready-made stream of candidates there who are possible ready to go when the new hiring need drops on them.

5. Get the Basics Right

The secret to any good hire is making sure the basics are covered. If you find yourself in an unplanned hiring process, at the very least get these essential points covered:

  • Define the role: what is the role that is to be filled, how it fits into the overall business and growth plans and it’s function
  • Define the Person: the skills needed and what behaviours / characteristics / cultural elements must be there. Model on a top employee if stuck
  • Define the Strategy: how you will find that person to fill the role

6. Don’t PANIC!

Yes I know it’s hard, but if you find that this gap in your workforce is giving you nightmares, step back. You are going to make a very bad hire if you go in there without a clear head and open eyes. It is simply not going to work. Think of how this is going to affect your business if you get it horribly wrong. Quality is driven by care and attention…not by panic.

The CDO – Overseeing The Next Big Jobs Growth

As we approach the threshold of the next big phase of jobs growth, it is becoming clear that one C-Level role could well be in the middle of the fair majority of this growth. By virtue of this, they will need to be as in tune with the jobs market as their impact on the business.

The Chief Data Officer, or CDO, sits at a strategic position in an organisation. As the curator and wrangler of one of the most important (and until recently, though, largely not properly maintained) assets, they will be as critical to strategic success, if not more, than the COO or CIO. This is incredible to see, given there was really no concept of data as a business asset up until only several years ago

So now what? Firstly, there is increasing recognition of the importance to retain, manage and manipulate data as an asset, structure it in a far more strategic and decision-influencing way and use it as a predictor for where the business is, where it’s going and what the competition is doing.

Secondly, the need to facilitate this new enthusiasm for data and bringing together the talent to properly utilise it is now down to the new position of CDO.

What happens now really can point to success or otherwise of an organisation’s data policy. Here are 4 points all CDO’s, or those aspiring to the role need to keep in mind.

1. Know The Market

Putting together an idea of what the talent market is like in data management is perhaps more difficult than most other areas of the organisation. Where clear ideas on the available talent within the likes of Finance or Marketing or IT are readily available, pulling information on the market in the data space is not so detailed.

For starters – and this is more pointedly aimed at the Australian market, it is a relatively brand new area. Aside from some hybridity with IT, the more focused analysis and analytics are the new tenants in the data warehouse (see what I did there?).

Then there is largely unfamiliarity with this emerging (or emerged) offering for business, leading to the simple ‘don’t know’ when market questions are asked.

The CDO has a great opportunity to corner market knowledge, to understand exactly who is doing what and where the data trends are heading. Put all of this together, and the CDO is starting off well.

2. Know The Person

Who makes a great employee and what does the CDO need to be aware of when hiring?

Technical skills are, of course, vital. Thorough experience, clear knowledge of relevant toolsets and a background that offers evidence of competency paint a good picture of how an individual will apply themselves to the role, and offer the CDO solid information to base hiring decisions on.

So, this is the only thing that should be considered when hiring, right?

Yes…and no.

Thing is, the data structure of an organisation bridges front and back end development, as well as having more than a passing requirement for external stakeholder contact – at times over and above that of their cousins in IT.

This is why a proper (and thorough) examination of a potential candidate’s fit into an organisation is needed. Cultural fit, the ‘soft’ skills (communication, interpersonal, presentation) and attitude all go towards profiling the best candidate. CDO’s need to have this knowledge in their arsenal to properly and effectively build their teams.

3. Know The Roles

What makes a great Data Analyst? An awesome Data Scientist? Modeller? BI Architect? ETL Developer? Report Writer? Or any other role, for that matter? There is no straight answer to that question, as there are so many variables. As CDO, the role of knowing what will work for their organisation is the first rule in identifying what is the best employee.

These roles will ultimately point the organisation in the direction of their data strategy. Yet, without this properly defined, the chances of the CDO impacting overall business transformation will be slim. It should come as no surprise that the CDO must have the ‘finger on the pulse’ of how roles impact this.

4. Know The Future.

What do you mean you don’t have a crystal ball? Shouldn’t that be in the pocket of every CDO (and technically every C-level)?!

Nice though it would be, knowing the future is fraught with danger. I mean, how many of us would’ve thought we would be even discussing a CDO role 10 years ago…even 5? Not all of us did – but some others recognised where data management was heading and worked to make businesses ready for it.

For the purposes here, the CDO will need to have a real eye for what is happening and be prepared to jump on new tech, or practices or methodologies to embrace the new wonders of data management. The general rule here would be stay on top of the industry and you won’t get left behind.


The bottom line to all of this is if businesses really will go down the CDO path. There are many views one way or the other as to if this will be a universally held position. Thing is, though, if there is to be any constructive focus on data management in the future, getting the resourcing basics right will prepare any business for the new world of data. The way CDOs find talent will be the next big challenge. How they do it and what help they get will be the difference between a fantastic talent pool and a data program going nowhere.