Mona Vernon, Head of Fidelity Labs, on Critical Considerations to Fuel Digital Transformation

What does digital transformation mean to you and what’s the role of managing data as an asset in that context? This was the first in a series of questions Andy Palmer, Co-Founder and CEO at Tamr, asked Mona Vernon, Head of Fidelity Labs, during a live panel discussion. Vernon, who served as the CTO of Thomson Reuters Labs prior to leading digital transformations at Fidelity, mentioned how much of “an ordeal it is to go to the dentist these days, now it becomes just completely unfathomable is that there is a clipboard with two pieces of paper in which I’m entering information that I must have entered, twice a year, every year.” This anecdote about the use of pen and paper at her recent visit to the dentist exemplifies the aggravating data silos that still exist in the world today and impact our daily lives.

“I would look at it as a new opportunity for every industry to think about how might you leverage that data to make people’s lives easier, create value for us in our daily life, but also for businesses to run more smoothly,” shared Vernon. Accelerating digitization may look different when you’re a large organization implementing last mile changes compared to a startup changing the way they engage with clients digitally. Vernon elaborates by saying that digital transformation can be centered around different philosophies such as building a digital community or fostering a sense of belonging.

 

 

During this unprecedented time for businesses across the globe, Vernon, thinking from her experience with digital transformations at Fidelity, finds that those who have taken the initiative to look at data holistically as part of their value proposition are going to have an easier time coming up with new product offerings than those that do not. For example, an IoT startup can think about creating a contact tracing solution if they are considering data as a strategic asset to deploy in addition to their existing technology and innovation. Consequently, this approach could result in launching a new product that helps us navigate the challenges of this current global pandemic.

Palmer recognizes that large organizations may not possess the same agility and speed as early stage companies in the startup ecosystem looking to implement digital transformation initiatives. Breaking down the data silos becomes easier with executive buy-in and a strong conviction from leadership at the top to pursue these opportunities and think about data as a shared enterprise resource. In other words, creating an environment that is conducive to data architecture decisions being made independently of an organizational unit or application.

In this new data-first culture, Palmer observed that the role of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) is changing dramatically given their empowerment to enact change as opposed to the traditional expectations of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) role. From Vernon’s perspective, it’s truly about having digital transformation leadership in 2020 and enabling them to inform the company’s business strategy by having a seat at the table. Even looking at the future of knowledge work, Vernon brought up the shift to create a digital creative culture with digital collisions that mimics the collaboration style you would achieve while engaging in an ideation session with dry erase boards and sticky notes. This shift is also characterized by redefining how clients interact with your business, how employees interact with each other, and how those interactions are all enabled by data and technology.

The entire conversation including the Q&A session is available to watch here.