DataIQ 100 - The most influential people in data - Martin Stockdale

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2021-02-03

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The DataIQ 100 profiles the most important and influential people in data-driven businesses and the innovators who support them.

Manchester Partner and head of Kennedys’ counter fraud unit Martin Stockdale, was recently recognised in the 2021 DataIQ 100 list of most influential people in data. 

This article first appeared on the DataIQ website. 

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

Law firms are not seen as data-driven businesses, however, Kennedys is driving positive change. Data and analytics are now part of the global strategic vision statement. Internal operations now think about data flow and value throughout operations.

At the heart of our firm is the client, and data is at the heart of this. Our ability to provide meaningful, reliable data about client problems is a standout feature of our service. In addition, our abilities in this area have spawned a SaaS product business which is unique in this industry. In February 2020, we launched Kennedys IQ.

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 proved to be an acceleration. Our product business, Kennedys IQ, has had a fast start. We deliver SaaS products that have data at their heart with data management, automation and AI features present in these solutions – all with legal expertise baked-in. This start was faster than expected. So, we are gearing up.

The firm’s strategic vision was restated in 2020, with data and analytics now a prominent feature. The plans and projects to transform our working processes and environments have been re-envisioned. They promise to be bolder, with this evolution becoming part of our DNA, not just a project to implement a single technology. Data will be central these ambitions.

To this end, we are now seeing a move towards data specialists – engineers, analysts, scientists, developers, and the rest – becoming part of the organisational make-up.

We cannot leave our lawyers and those that are not data specialists behind. We need to raise data literacy. This is something we are bringing forward.

Doing more with data and in more parts of the business requires our governance framework to keep pace – and get ahead – of our activity.

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

If 2020 was an acceleration and preparing for launch, then I am excited for 2021 with our ambition and programmes around data taking-off at Kennedys. Data and analytics will become a focus across the firm, from client engagement and service delivery, to our own operations. Programmes around data will be driven forward and prioritised and we will develop an identity and clear direction of travel in this area.

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

Data for good is part of our agenda. From a defensive perspective, a data for good mindset is crucial in ensuring we maintain and manage reputational risks that can come from working with data, particularly at the cutting-edge endeavour. It is vital for us to ensure reputations are insulated from bad data practices.

However, we can do better than that. Data for good is not just ethics and privacy. It is also about driving and enabling positive data agendas and ambitions across our business and our clients. When data use is driving positive outcomes then data for good happens.

What has been your path to power?

I prefer to see this question as my path to "influence"…I am grateful to have worked with some amazing colleagues and am excited that I continue to do so. This has allowed me to stand on the shoulders of others.

I have always been a professional using data (rather than a data professional). My relationship with data has not been obvious. My professional practice is insurance fraud, the investigation and (defence) litigation of insurance claims. Data has become key in the work I do with clients; from using data about insurance claims to argue and demonstrate fraudulent behaviour, to developing technologies that automate processing and developing machine learning systems that detect potential fraud.

Beyond my own practice, and the experience gained there, I have become involved in how data can be used in other practice areas and within our organisation and have seen the importance of having data professionals properly deployed. I have also been involved in many projects where we conceive, develop, and deliver data and systems.

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

I am proudest when I see others being successful and happy in their work. Doing this in establishing a centralised data, reporting and analytics team within a law firm feels special.

When many lawyers were not recognising the value and opportunity presented by data, we started by taking a thankless reporting task and evolving it. In doing so, we created internal identities and careers for data specialists, while demonstrating the value in data internally and to our clients.

Kennedys now has data and analytics as a core statement within the global business strategy, data scientists and a product business.

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

Legal service has always been a business of taking historical data, information and knowledge and applying that to solving client problems. As a specialist and industry-focused law firm, we have a unique opportunity at Kennedys to convert our knowledge bank and scale it to create solutions that positively change our organisation and our client service proposition.

Our goal is to have augmented intelligent lawyers with data-driven solutions automating the simple, so that experts can solve complex client problems and products with a Kennedys’ solution, only without the lawyers.

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?

Performance management is a well-established data-driven activity within Kennedys. To that end, our finance teams and leaders have been aligned to the data and analytics endeavour.

More recently, data and analytics has grown in importance across a number of areas relating to client service and wider functions operationally. Our centralised data and analytics team has become more prominent.

It was important, therefore, to ensure that this team aligned to the business as much as the business aligned to their skill set. To help this happen, we developed a business partnering mindset in the data and analytics team, upskilling those key analysts to ensure those with data skills understood what the business required.

From here, we built direct relationships between our data team and our clients. In response, our clients have ensured their data specialists opened developed relationships with us, creating client/supplier data alignment.

Through Kennedys IQ, we are starting to drive the agenda at an industry level – both legal and insurance. Our endeavour in developing augmented intelligence and machine learning solutions for our clients and our lawyers puts Kennedys at the cutting edge of aligning data and analytics, to both our business and associated industries.

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

Culture and our values are important to us. To develop a data culture at Kennedys, we are careful not to create something new, different, or additional. Instead, it is vital to build on our values and bring data into our existing culture.

To do this, it has been important to prove value to both those with influence who need to see value to invest in, and back, initiatives, and those who are influenced who need to see the importance to them on a daily basis. Early wins prove value and provide a foundation on which to build.