Chairman’s letter | Brunswick Group
Brunswick Review Issue 9

Chairman’s letter

For most of the leadership teams we serve at Brunswick, Big Data is moving rapidly up the list of critical considerations, under the heading, “great opportunities, great problems”

It promises huge rewards and massive advances in nearly every human activity – but for business, it also raises dramatic concerns.

The culture of sharing personal information has raced ahead, creating enormous potential to understand customers individually and en masse, while at the same time increasing awareness of the responsibility to protect and manage that data. Technology companies are at the forefront of the privacy debate, but all organizations are custodians of this resource in one form or another, and have to take on new responsibilities as a result.

The world has undergone some profound changes and business leaders are faced with a whole new set of challenges. Many were unimaginable a decade ago but they have one thing in common: they test whether you realize how much change has taken place, and require you to show how you are part of the solution and not part of the problem. Big Data is absolutely one of those issues where you are likely to be called to account.

At Brunswick, we have a basic belief that while breaches grab headlines, corporate data remains a very valuable asset. A company’s ability to demonstrate its effective use and responsible stewardship of data is increasingly central to its reputation with all stakeholders – from consumers right through to investors and regulators. These audiences are already placing a premium on businesses that have a clear point of view on the value of their data and how they are unlocking it.

We have assembled a world-class team of corporate data specialists to help our clients address this multifaceted and business critical communications challenge. We hear from a number of those voices in this edition, on topics that include cybersecurity, data privacy, data nationalism and regulation. Other articles examine broader implications of Big Data, including the trend toward everything and everyone being rated, “glance” journalism and the thorny issue of measurement.

We are very lucky to have a range of star contributors from outside Brunswick. I will never forget someone telling me that asking the right questions is what defines the cleverest person in the room. Josh Sullivan of Booz Allen Hamilton proves that observation and makes the case that the real gift of Big Data is in the promise of analytics. CEO John Fallon describes how he is bringing the power of data to drive the whole mission of Pearson as an education business – not an easy road, but the prize is clearly enormous.

In other stories, we look at the heroic achievements of Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, who tackled a mind-boggling logistical challenge in India; Vestas CMO Morten Albæk explains his efforts to bring new energy sources to underserved populations; and Paul McGinley, who led Team Europe to victory in golf’s 2014 Ryder Cup, discusses his winning combination of statistical analysis, thoughtful leadership and effective communication.

As these articles show, an appreciation of the role of information isn’t enough. Leadership must have a deep level of fluency in all aspects of data. It has to fit into a broader value system that demonstrates the respect you believe all of your stakeholders deserve.

We always aim to deliver a broad range of perspectives on communications and leadership. In this edition, we hear from GE and ANZ Bank about how they take their corporate narrative directly to readers. Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse embodies a mixture of passion and devotion to detail that we at Brunswick seek to emulate. His words are truly inspirational. We also feature timely articles on corporate governance in China and Singapore’s international reputation as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

I would like to thank all our contributors for giving so generously of their time and insight. I hope you enjoy reading this issue of the Brunswick Review as much as we enjoyed creating it, and I look forward to your feedback.

Sir Alan Parker – Chairman, Brunswick Group

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