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Simon James Gratton, Chief Data Officer, Three

Describe your career to date

The effective use of data has always been central to what I do. My data journey started in the mid-1990s at what is now IBM Cognos, during a pivotal point in the business intelligence revolution. 


I then worked as an interim across different businesses and vertical sectors in BI, integration, IT consolidation, architecture and ultimately management roles. This period also placed me in numerous data remediation transformations in the run-up to the “Y2K problem”.


At Telus, I delivered large-scale IT transformations during periods of group consolidation. At Royal Mail, I joined pre-privatisation on a breath-taking transformation delivered against a backdrop of declining mail revenues. At Zurich UK, I established its first chief data office and digital innovation lab at a time when establishing analytics and data science capabilities became of boardroom interest. 


My time leading data, analytics and CIO advisory at Capgemini Financial Services, followed by numerous portfolio roles across Deloitte, HSBC, BKL, Bletchley Park, Centrica, Schneider Electric and JCB has taught me how to deliver value from data quickly in any scenario.


At Three, I support our data function as we continue to transform customer and network experience with a focus on both revenue growth and operational efficiency.

What stage has your organisation reached on its data maturity journey? 

That depends on how you classify data maturity! We have mature analytics, engineering, data management and innovation functions underpinned by an agile cloud DevSecOps change management approach that supports our business data initiatives through a product-driven data delivery model at its heart. We have started our self-service enablement journey.


Tell us about the data and analytics resources you are responsible for

The chief data office at Three has functions that ‘make’ and ‘run’ our data products and a new ‘innovate’ function that supports automation, data democratisation and value generation. These sit centrally within our technology team.


In addition, we have skilled data teams (including MSc-based data scientists and data analysts) with other business functions that work with our data operationally under a collaborative self-service delivery model. 

We operate a hybrid model which means we have data professionals close to most of the business teams that we work with day-in, day-out.

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

I see challenges in data skills retention as the demand for talented data analysts, data engineers and data scientists continues to outstrip the supply. A recent LinkedIn survey showed a fifth of the top 25 roles in demand in the UK this year were data-related in nature.


Analytics teams will be challenged to deliver more value from the data ‘already at their disposal’ at faster pace, data scientists will need to focus more on operational improvements and data engineers will need to focus more on automating, optimising and monitoring the data refresh cycles.

Have you set out a vision for data? If so, what is it aiming for and does it embrace the whole organisation or just the data function? 

The vision began centrally to transform our data function into a more cloud-native product-driven function integrated into our technology team.


This was recently expanded to focus on self-service enablement across our business teams with the intent to drive more operational collaboration and innovation through data.

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

Achieving sustainable data quality is most definitely a journey and not a destination. As business changes, data processes change. 


Today’s data quality success story could be tomorrow’s operational data failure. 


Yet, our new consolidated data foundation is more proactive in catching and resolving operational data issues than ever before.

Simon James Gratton
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2022 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2023 (EMEA)