From One Chief Data Officer to Another - meet Volvo Cars' Johan von Mentzer and Vanessa Eriksson from PwC

Vanessa Eriksson, PwC, och Johan von Mentzer, Volvo Cars

In my role as PwC’s Chief Data Officer Advisor - Region EMEA, I’ve met and interviewed several leaders within data & analytics, getting insight to the agendas they drive and understanding why they aren’t visible on C-level.

The last in a six part interview series, #fromonechiefdataofficertoanother, meet Johan Von Mentzer, Head of Information Management Office @Volvo Cars as he shares his views on the Chief Data Officer and why data quality is key focus!
 

Vanessa: Describe your journey at Volvo to us?

Johan: I began at Volvo Cars in 2014 as a consultant and was employed by them just a year ago. During 2016, I headed a project to establish Information Management as a discipline within Volvo Cars, while also looking into the aspects of building an organisation around Information Management.  That’s really when I was asked to Head the Information Management Office. I report to the Head of Service Management Office and that role in turn reports to the CIO. We are currently 4 employees and a number of consultants.
 

Vanessa:  As Head of the Information Management Office, what are your key areas of responsibility?

Johan: One of the main responsibilities is to realize the strategic intent of the Information Management strategy.  It contains 6 main strategic objectives where one of them is to value information as an asset and that we can get insight from our data etc. and in order to ensure that we have a good understanding of what we mean by these objectives we have translated that into 4 simple questions:

  1. What information are we talking about?
  2. Who is accountable for it?
  3. Where can I find it?
  4. Is it fit for purpose?

This helps us work with the data and perform analytics on it etc., in a trustworthy and transparent way. We have an Executive sponsorship for Information Management and an Information Management Committee, with representation from different lines of business where we drive initiatives but convey messages, frameworks, targets etc.
 

Vanessa: Being in the automobile industry, is there a special focus needed on data and if so, what is that?

Johan: Our focus currently is on data quality. Within the automotive industry there are heavy regulations for e.g. carbon dioxide car emissions.   All automakers that plan to sell cars in Europe need to comply with the regulations and in this case calculate and specify the emission from each and every car that is manufactured.  Naturally it requires that we have a lot of data that provides that calculation and in addition we need to have a match of the calculated and the actual CO2 value.

So we have an extensive analysis of that CO2 data example.  Our focus is on how to run data quality management while establishing ownership of the data that we can monitor from a quality aspect.  It’s not just a learning curve but from a maturity aspect it helps us understand the implications and gaps.
 

Vanessa: What additional challenges does autonomous driving put on the management of data?

Johan: Looking at autonomous drive requires that you understand how the car operates with the technical challenges, i.e. the road condition, the position of the car on the road, the environment (rainy, cloudy, sunny..) can the car recognize the white lines on the road, there are a lot of technical practicalities that need to be secured.   All that then translates to taking control of the car, ensuring that all the risks are mitigated avoiding mishaps or accidents.  That is a great challenge because it requires being predictive in its decision that is of course an area where all the disciplines are included with sensor technology, machine learning, radar etc.

With the ambition level that Volvo has i.e. that no one should be killed or severely injured in a new Volvo car by 2020 is a great ambition – and that is one area that is very exciting.
 

Vanessa: As Head of the Information Management Office, what would you describe as your biggest challenge?

Johan: It’s a journey in understanding the value of the data.  Everyone works with data on a daily basis and with a lot of data being used cross functionally, knowing the impact on the data that ‘I’ work with, how is it related to other data, how to make it trustworthy etc., is a trick!
 

Vanessa: Here to talk about the Chief Data Officer, what are your thoughts about the role?

Johan: My immediate thought is that the role should have a companywide view and understanding of the critical information areas that need to be improved from a sharing perspective as well as from a legal and compliance perspective.

I am absolutely for the Chief Data Officer role. To me, it communicates that as an organization, we have focus on data!
 

Vanessa: Would that be you at Volvo Cars that fills the Chief Data Officer role? 

Johan: With the current responsibilities that we have, there’s a lot of work to be done here and now and for the future and I haven’t thought about the role explicitly.  As a topic, I think it would be good for Volvo Cars, whoever it be that gets that role. I believe it’s a good role for any company to employ!
 

Vanessa: What do you see as the main obstacle in getting Chief Data (& Analytics) Officers assigned within organisations?

Johan: In general we have a mindset of thinking applications, so what resides in these systems has not been the focus area. It has been functionally and technically driven, it’s a shift of mindset, we need features and capabilities looking at what we have and the quality of that and assuring that we have the right flow of data across the business functions have been the second target. 

Balance the technology aspect with development of information, and ensure a roadmap for the critical information irrespective of where it is operated, what is needed.
 

Vanessa: Thank you Johan for sharing your insights with us!  We wish you all the very best!

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Martin Karlström

Ansvarig Data and Analytics, PwC Sverige

Tel 0729-80 91 28

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