The Top 10 Data Futurists to Discover in 2019

Data is the most valuable resource in the world today.

Through data, we can learn about crucial business and industry trends, support stronger decision-making, and unlock new opportunities. In today’s digital world, the arrival of things like Machine Learning, the Internet of Things, and Big Data has transformed the way that we leverage data forever.

Data Futurists are the forward-thinking individuals that aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and discover what’s truly possible with new technology. These inspiring people encourage us to re-think the way that we use information each day and accomplish better results in the process.

Here are the top 10 futurists motivating us in 2019.

10. Paul Ravenscroft

Head of Digital Insights and Personalization for the Walgreens/Boots alliance, Paul Ravenscroft has over 15 years of experience in customer-first campaigns. Ravenscroft believes in using the power of data to design more immersive and relevant experiences for end-users. He’s a pioneer in brand reputation development and business strategies that put the consumer first.

With Walgreens and Boots, Ravenscroft delivers insights through web analytics, and CRM/campaign management, heading up a team of 16 analysts. His experiments with data have pushed countless companies to rethink their digital marketing and customer experience strategies.

9. Orlando Machado

Orlando Machado is the Chief Data Scientist behind Aviva Quantum. With over two decades in the data industry, he has used countless techniques to solve industry problems. Starting in academics, he taught doctors how to use statistics and statistical modelling. When Orlando joined Aviva, he helped them to create their global data science practice (Aviva Quantum), which now operates across 16 countries.

Machado works with Aviva to ensure that the company can continue to offer a class-leading solution for its customers through state-of-the-art data assets and technology. He also ensures that data scientists can get the best possible training and development opportunities on the Aviva team.

8. Anita Fernqvist

Anita Fernqvist is the inspirational data futurist and Chief Data Officer behind Zurich Insurance UK. She’s responsible for Data analytics and Architecture – and has been running her own data team since 2016. Not only did Fernqvist create and implement the UK data strategy that Zurich Insurance relies on for its insights, but she also introduced a new strategic data asset discovery method to the business too.

With Anita’s help, Zurich Insurance can address historical data issues, and ensure that the right strategies are in place to innovate with the latest insights. Zurich Insurance was named the winner of the 2018 Data IQ transformation award.

7. Kinnari Ladha

Kinnari Ladha is the Group head of Business Intelligence and Data Marketing for the TUI group. From an early age, she’s had an enduring passion for numbers, which pushed her to achieve her honours degree in mathematics and computing. Before entering her role with TUI, Ladha held various positions in senior analytics roles.

Today, Kinnari manages the data and analytics components of the TUI group, ensuring that the business remains the top-rated travel and tourism company. She influences the strategic direction of the company and makes crucial decisions about its global presence based on data.

6. Eric O’Neill

Eric O’Neill is a well-known data futurist in the speaker circuit. As an expert in analytics and cybersecurity, he’s sought after for his knowledge about counterintelligence and counterterrorism solutions. Today, Eric sits on the General Council for the non-profit Global Communities cause. Before that, he worked for the FBI as a counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism operative, assisting in catching the notorious spy, Robert Phillip Hanssen.

Eric currently uses data to support investigations into counterintelligence and cybersecurity operations for Carbon Black – the leading cybersecurity endpoint company in the world.

5. Thomas Lee-Warren

The Chief Technology Officer for R2 Data Labs, and Rolls Royce, Thomas Lee Warren has always had a passion for computer science. He has helped various companies to transform their services and products using agile techniques enhanced with data. He has also led the digitalization of new businesses at the UK rail network, Marks and Spencer, and the postal service.

In his position with Rolls Royce, Thomas Lee-Warren supports the brand through data engineering, visualizations, and deep learning. Thomas believes that RPA and artificial intelligence will help humanity to transform the way we work and live.

4. Ryan Den Rooijen

Ryan Den Rooijen has spent years working on the cutting edge of data and analytics. Today, he’s the Global Director of Data Services for Dyson, known for his commitment to delivering measurable impacts through data. Currently, Rooijen leads a team of over 70 data experts in the creation and development of new technology and services for the Dyson company.

Ryan is also a well-respected speaker on the technology circuit. He has spoken frequently on topics about data-driven organizations and consumer insights.

3. Nick Curcuru

As the Vice President of Global Big Data Consulting with Mastercard, Nick Curcuru is a true thought leader in the data futurist world. Over 20 years, he has lead various large-scale strategic corporate initiatives around the world, for brands like Capital One, the Walt Disney Company, and General Electric.

Curcuru shows countless companies how to improve their strategic decision-making processes through the use of analytics and big data. With Mastercard, he works alongside other executives to make the most out of the company’s unstructured and structured data assets. He’s also responsible for assisting architects in building big-data solutions to common business problems.

2. Lillian Pierson

Lillian Pierson is a leading expert in the field of data science and big data. She works with companies to help them manage comprehensive data initiatives, transforming projects and upgrading products. Lillian is currently working as a data strategist with Data-Mania LLC, where she acts as a LinkedIn learning instructor and a face-to-face trainer.

Pierson is also the author of various highly influential technical books, including Data Science for Dummies. Lillian has also spent more than a decade of training and consulting with some of the technology industry’s largest organizations.

1. Gerd Leonhard

Gerd Leonhard is probably the best-known data futurist on this list. An author and professional speaker, Gerd specializes in discussing the connection between technology and humanity. His focus is on making sure that we gather the right data, and unlock new insights, without losing what makes us human.

In 2016, Leonhard published a manifesto called “Technology vs. Humanity” which outlines crucial considerations about digital rights. Gerd has aired his views over the years about the critical junctures of transhumanism and tech centralization. Additionally, he authored an open letter to the partnership of AI in 2016, which asked technology leaders around the globe to embrace the concept of digital ethics in the world of cognitive automation.

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