Data-Driven Thinking: Insights from Data Edge

Brenton Adey

Data Consultant


As an attendee of the Telstra Purple-sponsored ADAPT Data Edge Conference in Sydney recently, I had the pleasure of gathering brilliant insights from Chief Data officers, CTOs, and department heads across various industries about the state of data in their respective organisations.

It was a great opportunity for to share learnings and collaborate with more than 130 IT leaders and executives across a full day of keynotes, roundtables, and one-on-one meetings—to look for ways we can contribute to building stronger, more resilient, data-driven organisations.

Challenges in data strategy

The opening keynote highlighted local data and insights from a benchmarking survey, including common pain points we see in almost every data strategy:

  • A lack of consistent data culture
  • Inconsistent processes and data operations
  • Data dispersal across numerous systems and applications

In my role as a Telstra Purple consultant, I see these issues arise repeatedly for customers across many different industries. As we incorporate more technology like IoT into our businesses in this information-rich world, we generate and access more and more data. And managing this data—as we have found in our own experience and in ADAPT’s research—is becoming increasingly difficult from both a cultural and technological standpoint.

Creating brilliant, innovative solutions involves putting the customer and end-user at the core—so identifying these issues and recognising their business impact is a great way to begin that process.

Data Driven Thinking

Finding the needle in the haystack

In the afternoon, I had the pleasure of hosting a round-table discussion called “finding the needle in the haystack.” As the title suggests, my dialogue with tech executives revolved around how to extract meaningful insights from the enormous volume of data generated by edge computing and other systems that businesses use.

As we went around the room, it was clear that the participants’ organisations had common challenges:

  • Siloed data teams
  • Long lead times in data delivery
  • Breakdown of communication between an overstretched central data team and domain experts within the business units

As a data consultant someone who works with data every day, I can tell you there’s no practical way to eliminate the need for data wrangling altogether. When dealing with distributed data silos, Telstra Purple recommends that ownership be centralised at the business unit level. Doing so fosters a shared responsibility to how data is used and managed within the company. by redistributing responsibility to the business units. This underlines an important point made at the roundtable: It is often a cultural shift—not a technical one—that’s required to kick-start the journey to data maturity.

A community that shares knowledge

Throughout the course of the day, I learned about how companies are doing with their data journeys—from just beginning to form a data strategy to implementing a data-driven culture. It was an exciting experience to learn about the other organisations’ ambitions, as well as to share Telstra Purple’s breadth of data capabilities, from big data engineering to AI and analytics.

I also got to share my recent experiences building data platforms with one representative from the aviation industry, explaining how Telstra Purple implemented a metadata-driven ingestion platform with a modern data lake to securely share data without duplication while maintaining strict governance.

The use of data analytics to map out the customer journey came up repeatedly in various conversations. With our unique background in user experience design, it's great to see organisations embracing a "people first" mindset in combination with data-driven decision making.

The day closed out with an engaging panel discussion surrounding the difficulties of forming a data strategy. The panel answered difficult questions like "how to approach the CEO with a proposed solution?" and "how do I propagate change throughout the business?". The panel simply reaffirmed that a data strategy change, like any successful strategic initiative, is about aligning each individual to a common goal through empathy and open communication.

ADAPT's first Data Edge event was a resounding success. It's encouraging to see more and more businesses embracing the full potential of data.

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