Q: CDOs are becoming critical to a C-level team. How important is data to the strategic direction of Autostrade per l’Italia?
Data is at the center of the huge Digital Transformation program started in 2021, called « Next to Digital », which aims at transforming Autostrade per l’Italia into a Sustainable Mobility Leader. We wanted to protect whoever is traveling on our highways, execute decisions faster, as well as be agile and fluid. We not only wanted to react immediately to what is happening around us, but also to be able to anticipate events and take action before they occur. The Company was started in the early 50s – last century – and we clearly realized that all the data we collected throughout the years could be a unique advantage and a strong lever to transform the company.
Q: What are the main challenges you want to address by implementing a data catalog in your organization?
We think that only the business functions of the Autostrade group can truly transform the company into a data driven company. To do this, business functions need to be supported by the right tools – efficient and usable – they must be fully aware of the data they have available. Ideas, and therefore value, are generated only if you have a clear idea of the environment in which you are moving within, and the objective you are aiming for. If, without knowing it, you have a gold bar under your mattress, you will sleep uncomfortably and realize that you could do something to improve your situation – probably by changing mattresses, for example. However, if you are aware that you have that gold bar, you will lift the mattress, take the bar and turn it into a jewel – maximizing its value.
The data catalog builds the bridge between business and data at Autostrade. It is the tool that allows business users to have knowledge on the fact that there are many gold bars available and to know where they can be found.
Q: What features were you looking for in a data catalog and that you found in Zeenea?
From a business perspective, a data catalog is the access point to all data. It must be fast, complete, easy to understand and user friendly, and represent a lever (not an obstacle). Business users must not be forced to spend the majority of their time on it. Whereas from an IT perspective, a data catalog must be agile, scalable, as well as quickly and continuously upgradeable as data is continuously being ingested or created.
Q: What is your vision of a data catalog in the data management solutions’ ecosystem?
We don’t think of the catalog as a tool, but as a part of the environment we need, as IT, to make available to the business functions. This ecosystem naturally includes tools, but what’s also important is the mindset of its users. To lead this mindset change, business functions must be able to work with data, and that’s the reason Self-BI is our main goal for 2022 as CDO Office. As mentioned previously, the catalog is the starting point for all of that. It is the door that lets the business in the data-room.
Q: How will you drive catalog adoption among your data teams?
All leaders from our team, Leonardo B. for the Data Product, Fulvio C. for Data Science, Marco A. and Andrea Q. for Data Engineering and Cristina M. as Scrum (super)Master are focused on managing the program. This program foresees an initial training phase for business users, an on-the-job dedicated support and an on-the-room support. Business users will participate in the delivery of their own analysis. We will onboard business functions incrementally, to focus the effort and maximize the effectiveness of each business function. The goal is to onboard all business functions within 2022: it represents a lot of work, but is made easier by knowing that there is a whole company behind that supports us and strongly believes that we are going in the right direction.
About Ruben Marco Ganzaroli
Ruben joined Autostrade per l’Italia in 2021 as Chief Data Officer to support the extensive Next to Digital program which aims to digitally transform the company.
In this role, he leads the data, analytics and artificial intelligence department supporting Autostrade per l’Italia’s data-driven transformation – with the goal of becoming a leader in the integrated mobility market and primary player in the development of a national open data culture.
Previously, Ruben was Head of IT Project Management, Methods and Tools at Ferrari. His team played a key role in developing and applying new IT delivery models, directly managing the project initiatives and the application maintenance services and supporting the IT compliance department.