How smart organisations are treating data as a valuable asset

Thursday, 27 June 2019  @Business School

In conversation with Josep Curto, adjunct professor at IE Business School, AGSM Visiting Professor.

Last month AGSM ran its first GNAM Global Network Week program, hosting MBA Executive students from some of the world’s leading management schools. Students from Yale, Fudan, Berkeley, EGADE and University of Hong Kong participated in AGSM’s Digital Marketing in Asia-Pacific course. Visiting faculty Josep Curto from IE University in Spain ran a digital marketing simulation as part of the intensive five-day course. As a data scientist specialising in analytics, Curto is fascinated by the application of analytics across industries and business areas.
AGSM spoke to him about data analytics, the consumer experience and his experience at AGSM during Global Network Week.

Q: How did you end up at the Australian Graduate School of Management in Sydney?
A: I met a full-time MBA student from AGSM who was on exchange at IE. I was one of his professors and after learning about his experience at AGSM, I was drawn to the school.

Q: You ran a marketing simulation during the Global Network Week, what is your main area of expertise?
A: My core domain is analytics, but analytics serves a transpersonal function. You need to be a jack-of-all-trades and understand what’s happening in a particular industry or business area – fintech, media, healthcare and of course, marketing.

Q: When it comes to analysing data, how important is a global perspective?
A: With data it’s all about context, so I try to gather as many samples as possible. I travel six to eight months a year trying to discover what’s happening in different regions – some countries are more or less mature in the way they apply analytics. When countries are more advanced and open to exploring the combination of analytics with strategies – say for example smart parking or smart traffic, they can create tangible effects for their citizens.

Q: Why is it important for leading organisations to prioritise data quality?
A: Organisations need to change their mindset about capturing quality data. They need to understand that data is a critical asset. It’s the same thing as owning a building – it needs to be cleaned, maintained and secured. You need to take care of the infrastructure. It’s an ongoing process of maintenance and improvement. Another thing is, every time you have a manual task, someone is defying the data. Think about an excel spreadsheet that’s capturing the revenue of a company. It’s so easy to make a mistake and introduce an error in a formula, and then if someone shares that sheet with someone else, the error is replicated. This is why it’s vital for organisations to introduce new policies, roles and mechanisms focused on controlling the quality of data and making that an ongoing process.

Q: How can marketers benefit from paying attention to data?
A: Customer-centric companies need to use customer data in clever ways. The more they can understand their customer, the faster, wiser and better their decisions about the customer can be – and they can create customer experiences that increase brand loyalty.

Q: Data ethics is in focus at the moment. How can we use data ethically?
A: Data ethics culture is becoming very important and we need to pay attention. It’s difficult to know what will happen with an algorithm – but the idea of an algorithm is to influence people. So there needs to be more transparency and education for the average consumer to understand that an algorithm and their online experience is designed to influence them in one way or another. We’re at the point where we’re discovering biases, and where people are working towards applying explainable machine learning. Soon stakeholders should be able to understand more and have a more transparent digital experience.

Q: Why did you run a digital marketing simulation for the Global Network Week visitors?
A: There were so many different topics introduced during the week, and the simulation was the best way for the students to put this into practice. Working in a team they had to make sense of everything we had discussed a few hours earlier, and apply it in a situation as close to real life as possible. It’s great for students to make mistakes in a controlled environment – because eventually they’re going to go back to their companies to apply what they’ve learnt in the real world. So if they’ve already made a mistake in a simulation, they may already have a solution for their reality.

Q: What was your experience like as a visiting professor through GNAM?
A: The Global Networking Week is not only about sharing knowledge, but about creating bonds with a global network of professionals – and identifying potential people to collaborate with in the future.

There were many activities outside of the classroom and these were excellent for getting to continue conversations with students from China, the USA and many other countries. It was a great way to continue my quest to learn more about what different countries and industries are doing with analytics. I would recommend it to any professor if they have the opportunity. 

UNSW Business School is the only Australian school, and one of 30 member schools based in 28 countries across six continents, in the GNAM network. Through GNAM, AGSM MBA students and faculty members have access to learn and teach at prominent international business schools and welcome visiting international students and academics like Josep Curto for education exchanges. 

If you’re a current AGSM student, find out more here or call +61 2 9931 9490.
Learn more about the global network here.