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The Data Innovation Summit 2017

Harnham recently had the pleasure of sponsoring and exhibiting at the annual Nordic Data Innovation Summit, alongside companies ranging from start-ups to blue-chips.

Despite each being at different stages of data transformation, one common theme amongst us all was an eagerness to share knowledge and to learn from each other in a collaborative fashion. The summit presented a great platform to discuss barriers all companies face in their data innovation journeys.

There is a mutual understanding between exhibitors and delegates that data innovation is a necessity, rather than a ‘one day soon’ activity; not only to remain competitive but more so due to the benefits being fully data-driven offers.

The Era of Change

From our 2016 Salary Guide, we can see that the Nordic market is maturing to catch up with the big data hubs of The UK and USA. So we decided to conduct a poll at the summit, to see just how far the market and attitudes have come over the last 12 months.

Results show, that the reason data-driven innovation is important to the majority (63%) of poll participants, is to aid in the development of new products, and to identify new business areas. Only 11% claim that identifying internal inefficiencies is their driver for data innovation, supporting the idea that the perceived value of business analytics is shifting in the Nordics. Increasingly, data driven decision making is replacing intuition and gut-feel.


Presenters at the summit offered inspirational examples to those at the beginning of their data transformation, alongside technical talks detailing best practice and methodologies to reach desired business objectives in a data team.

Carl Svärd presented the transformation of Schibsted as an example of a company who was somewhat forced to transform due to the decline in print. Management recognised the need and took tech to their core rather than solely adding tech as an extension to their business model. This investment may have seemed risky at the time, but it is an example of excellent management.

As a community, we are becoming better at recognising the value of data, however poll results show that the most prevalent barrier to data innovation is still senior stakeholder buy-in and budget.



The Data Driven Mind-set

Results also show that 80% of participants will be expanding their teams in 2017. However, 60% of poll takers identified the lack of qualified talent as their biggest hiring challenge for data innovation. With a “lack of skilled staff” the second most significant barrier to innovation.


This mirrors well the trends we see at Harnham as we increasingly are retained to build multidisciplinary teams from scratch, or to help them grow during the next phase of their data innovation.

Indeed, there is no textbook answer to building the perfect data team, as each should be built to facilitate individual business objectives. We know that one size does not fit all.

At the Summit, between vigorous Zelda sessions and presentations we had the pleasure of consulting with many of you on an individual basis whilst taking our poll, giving us the opportunity to hear about your experiences and help solve some of your hiring issues.

We look forward to the next Nordic Data Innovation Summit, and are excited to see what may change in a year.