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  • John Lee, Chief Data Officer, NBCUniversal, Enterprise Data Organization

John Lee, Chief Data Officer, NBCUniversal, Enterprise Data Organization

Describe your career to date

I have been working for over 28 years in the data-driven marketing and consumer experience industry starting in direct marketing, the dotcom boom and bust, performance media, digital transformation and now into the emergent artificial intelligence (AI) era.  

After beginning my career in the agency and consulting sectors, I spent 14 years at Merkle spanning roles including Chief Data and Product Officer and Global Chief Strategy Officer. Merkle was acquired by Dentsu in 2016 at which point I became Global President of M1 (their global identity and data product suite). I joined NBCUniversal in 2021 where my team launched NBCUnified our universal consumer identity and first party data platform supporting all business lines. My team also oversees consumer research, insights, data science, and measurement for the Advertising and Partnerships division. 

How are you developing the data literacy of your organization, including the skills of your data teams and of your business stakeholders? 

I established a data and identity executive council that has senior leadership and working committee level representation across all our business lines inclusive of streaming, sports, news, entertainment, studios, and theme parks in close partnership with our corporate technology, privacy, legal, infosec and governance teams. This executive council sets the cross-line data priorities, allocates resources to key initiatives and conducts an ongoing series of alignment and knowledge sharing sessions culminating in an annual Enterprise Data Summit where we educate and celebrate our work with the top C-level executives and over 300 senior leaders across the company. 

What role do you play in building and delivering conventional artificial intelligence solutions, including machine learning models? Are you also involved in your organization’s adoption of generative AI?  

I am a member of the global AI executive council that fosters collaboration and provides governance across the company. My team is specifically working on an industry first generative AI product launch called NBCUnified GenAI which utilizes computer vision, large language models, and machine learning to parse the complex connections between how specific individuals consumer our content, how it drives behaviors, and optimizes to marketer outcomes ultimately enabling NBCU to serve the right ad, in the right context, to the right consumer in real-time integrated directly with our ad platforms. This will be an industry first when we release it in 2024 in beta. 

Have you been able to fix the data foundations of your organization, particularly with regard to data quality? 

We have implemented an enterprise identity resolution standard as well as establishing the framework for how data is shared from across the enterprise to a central data science capability where it is standardized, cleaned, and made ready for data productization and custom analytics. This was phase one of our transformation roadmap. In 2024, we have kicked off what we are calling the Enterprise Data Unification initiative that is designed to ensure that all downstream systems are properly utilizing identity, data supply, and math and logic such that our business critical systems (reporting, forecasting, planning, targeting, and measurement) are working from a single version of the truth which is accurate and aligns to ours and our partners business objectives. 

John Lee
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2024 (USA)