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Liz Brandt, Chief Executive Officer, Ctrl-Shift

How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?


Since its inception 11 years ago as a purpose-based organisation, Ctrl-Shift has developed playbooks and methodologies that enable businesses to create sustainable market positions founded on the ethical use of personal data. Developing opportunities to create wholly new value from data and data analytics that drives value for the individual and wholly new value for organisations and society is our purpose. 


2020 was a year like no other – how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?


2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic have transformed our market. As with so many aspects of our lives, things have changed forever. The need for us all to work together collectively to beat the virus and the trials and tribulations of the UK Track and Trace programme have accelerated people’s awareness of the need for trusted data. Having to explain the benefits of distributed data architectures and privacy-enabled data exchange seems to be a thing of the past, we hope! 


Alongside the need for many businesses to transform their businesses rapidly, with some saying that their six-year plans have been collapsed into six-month plans, what was previously on slow burn or perhaps unimaginable is now top of the agenda. We have now been able to open the door to the true value available from trusted personal data sharing and data mobility. 


The value opportunities have become apparent across our economy and society and especially in markets where transformation is systemic, such as healthcare, financial services, energy and government. Senior leadership teams are realising that creating the right environment within their organisations to mobilise customer data could have a profound effect on the value that they can create and the effectiveness and efficiencies of their operations. 

Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?


2021 will be a truly catalytic year. With so much shifted and shifting, there is bound to be a lot of noise in the data and analytics market. The demise of self-regulation of personal data use will begin to be apparent, and we’ll start to see that take its toll on established business models. 


It will create a great deal of confusion where the future value opportunities become less clear for many. Those that do not spend the time understanding the shift that the new social contract for personal data sharing offers will begin to see the train leaving the station. They may not notice the impact on their businesses immediately, but the seeds of change will be sown. For governments, this will set the direction for the success of economies and shape our societies for years to come.


Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?


It is central to everything we do. Our work in 2018 for the UK Government illuminated the benefit to society of personal data mobility, where data that historically has been locked within the walls/servers of siloed businesses becomes available for use and able to be recombined, creating hitherto unimagined value for individuals and society. Our recent work on data and how it illuminates mental wellbeing is a perfect example:

  • Empowering individuals with their data to chart towards mental wellbeing;
  • Creating new routes to impacting the financial cost of mental ill-health, estimated for the UK at £42 billion per year in 2018, in line with the European average of 4% of GDP;
  • Avoiding the adverse effects of poor mental health which are particularly concentrated in ethnic minority and low socio-economic groups.

This pioneering sandbox study has examined the opportunity for individuals to be informed of their mental wellbeing better. Developed in collaboration with HSBC, Facebook, mental health charity togetherall (formally Big White Wall) and Public Health England, it considers how data-driven insights can create digital tools in the hands of the individual to enable them to track and support their personal mental wellbeing. 


It explored the concept called WellApp, envisioned and tested with consumers, as a preventative mental wellbeing digital tool to help an individual to use their data solely for their use and sight, to track and proactively self-manage their mental wellbeing.


More broadly than that, our work is leading us towards a personal data-driven proposition in decarbonisation, personal debt management and preventative health and wellbeing. The true power of our personal data is hoving into view. This is the tip of the iceberg in my opinion when it comes to the broad ambitions of data for good. 

What has been your path to power?


In a career that runs from international finance to the personal information economy, there has been one common thread – the moment a person touches an organisation. From the early days of computers (mainframes and others), networks (prior to www), ATMs, branch networks (branches used to be where people did banking!), call centres (that were meant to make people’s lives easier), through to today’s personal information management services, I’ve played a part in the design, development and/or implementation of all of them.


My working life has spanned multiple disciplines, including consultancy, digital media, customer service design and strategic marketing. After 12 years with Barclays, I moved to the systems integrator company Logica, heading up its sales and marketing and the development and running of its international CRM business. All of this before I took the bold, but hugely exciting step to launch my own businesses.


Although all aspects of my career have exposed me to the creation, storage and use of data, CRM gave me the most acute insight into the power and value of data, especially personal data being the key to the creation of value for Individuals and organisations, society and our economy. This was the driving force behind Ctrl-Shift which Alan Mitchell, William Heath and I founded in 2008. It’s been an extraordinary journey so far.


What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?


Apart from receiving a DataIQ Data Champion award in 2020, the foundation of Ctrl-Shift is probably my proudest achievement, although it’s been a challenging journey. All of the mini battles we have helped win along the road towards personal data empowerment, the blood sweat and tears that everyone has poured into the development of toolkits that help organisations to realise the value for and with their customers. 


The horizons of opportunity have become even clearer over 2020, which I suspect means there are many achievements to follow for me, my team and our incredible partners. 


Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?


That is quite simple, but hugely complex at the same time. It is to see the opportunity of personal data mobility realised for the benefit of society across multiple sectors, across global markets and across all democratic governments. Not much, really!

How closely aligned to the business are data and analytics both within your own organisation and at an industry level? What helps to bring the two closer together?


I’d say we are enabling others to realise this goal. Our work is all about helping the public and private sectors think through and then realise the infrastructure, products and services which will drive personal data mobility into the mainstream in a safe and appropriately-legislated way.


What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?


Get it into the boardroom, for starters. Data is no longer the domain of specialist departments and many organisations have already built very successful businesses by empowering data. But there are still far too many business and public sector organisations that lack a progressive approach to data. It should not be kept in a vault, enslaved and guarded by brutish custodians. 


If data becomes a core part of what the organisation does then it will naturally become part of the culture. That will require senior leaders to embrace and understand its role and to embody the values of a data-first business. That could take time, but what is certain is that the successful businesses of the future will be the ones that started early and pioneered into areas such as personal data mobility.

Liz Brandt
has been included in:
  • 100 Influencers 2020 (EMEA)
  • 100 Influencers 2021 (EMEA)