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Lauren Walker

Lauren Walker, Chief Client Solutions Officer, Annalect

Describe your career to date

 

My data career kicked off with political polling and survey research, which led me to the Clinton White House, after which I joined ChoicePoint (now a division of LexisNexis). Through that experience, and even since, I worked on data product management, product marketing, and corporate strategy. At ChoicePoint, I learned how to turn data from a raw asset into value-added insights, which banks, insurers, and law enforcement used to assess risk and take appropriate action. I left ChoicePoint to attend Yale University School of Management, where I received my MBA. Upon graduation, I embarked on a decade long career at IBM with senior roles in global marketing, sales leadership, consulting and M&A. Some highlights include leading the MDM business, launching the big data and analytics business in Europe, and creating the Watson customer analytics partnership with Acxiom. My first official role as Chief Data Officer was at dentsu International EMEA, where I harmonised data and digital experts to improve our clients’ customer centricity. A few years later, as COO EMEA and later Global COO of growth transformation, I helped drive the transform dentsu. I then spent nearly three years leading Data and Analytics for Accenture Song in both Europe and the UK&I. Recently, I have joined Annalect, as their first Chief Client Solutions Officer. At Annalect, we build the data driven products that the Omnicom agencies and clients use to harmonise, activate, and analyse the media and marketing data across the customer lifecycle. 

What challenges do you see for data in the year ahead that will have an impact on your clients and on the industry as a whole?  

 

One of the biggest challenges this year will be tempering the excitement and potential of generative AI (genAI). Unfortunately, by February 2024, we had seen many unintended or malicious uses of genAI, which have led further calls for legislation and regulation. However, traditional AI is still something many companies have not been able to master yet to reap rewards in productivity and business outcomes. In all my conversations with fellow data leaders, many organisations are still trying to get the data foundations right – taxonomy, reporting, and basic analytics. While we have seen the addition of the Chief Data Officer role as a critical one over the past decade, the role and remit still varies by industry and organisation. Clean and trusted data is something everyone in an organisation is responsible for, but we are still working on building that muscle memory across all employees. As a result, while the CDO may bring a strategy and executional plan for ensuring clean and trusted data, as well as data driven results, they are dependent on a variety of stakeholders to be successful. So, this year, CDO’s will be balancing building solid data taxonomy and data foundations, while at the same time creating the genAI principles, frameworks, and pilots for their organisations. 

How are you developing the data literacy of a) your own organisation and b) your clients?

 

Over the course of my career, I have found that my colleagues develop a deeper understanding and a deeper appreciation for data when they are shown the superior business outcomes it can yield. Finding the right stories to share – stories that humanise the data and demonstrate its worth — have the power to turn your organisation’s data detractors into data evangelists. Over the years across my various roles, I have found this approach works well for both my own organisation and for my clients. 

How are you preparing your organisation and your clients for AI adoption and change management? 

 

Part of my interest in joining Annalect, was due to the ongoing investment made by Omnicom in cutting edge technology, highly skilled personnel and first-of-a-kind partnerships that power Annalect’s flagship product Omni. Omni, launched in 2018, was the advertising industry’s first marketing orchestration platform, which included machine learning and AI capabilities. Since then, Annalect has continued to build upon this foundation and in June launched Omni 3.0 with Omni Assist, an end-to-end genAI-powered virtual assistant. Marketeers benefit from the strong data taxonomy and data foundations we built, which made it easier for us to embed genAI into the software and processes; now they benefit from greater efficiency and gain new insights as they plan, activate, and analyse. The best part is we have worked these updates into their current workflows so the change management and adoption is not laborious and overly time consuming. 

Lauren Walker
Lauren Walker
has been included in:
  • 100 Enablers 2019 (EMEA)
  • 100 Enablers 2020 (EMEA)
  • 100 Enablers 2021 (EMEA)
  • 100 Enablers 2022 (EMEA)
  • 100 Enablers 2023 (EMEA)
  • 100 Enablers 2024 (EMEA)