Primary tabs

Matthew Mullins


Matthew Mullins

Director, Consulting Delivery

There’s a huge demand on organisations today to drive flexibility, better customer experience, transformation and improvement, differentiation, speed to delivery, speed to engagement and more.

As organisations seek ways to innovate and deliver on these demands, the partnership between data and the cloud is proving to be a critical enabler in almost every aspect of business – and indeed the broader human experience.

The relationship between data and the cloud is symbiotic. While the cloud facilitates agility, flexibility and scale in an organisation’s technology stack, data provides essential insight into its customers’ needs and wants, and how it’s performing against those expectations.

The intersection between agility, flexibility and intelligence is what enables an organisation to maintain an edge in a hyper-competitive landscape.

But can the quest for innovation go too far?

Data is now at the core of everything. As more organisations rely on it to provide an insight into what to do next, more data is being collected, shared and mobilised through agile technologies like the cloud.

But at what point does collecting and using customer data become problematic? There have been many examples of companies breaching customer trust – whether consciously or not – and the legality of these situations isn’t always cut and dry. As we’ve seen with companies like Facebook, the question of who is ultimately responsible for protecting customer data is a tricky one. Companies rely on data to innovate, while governments are constantly playing catch-up with legislation.

If a company uses information about you to not only target you but also subconsciously influence your decisions, it may be legal, but is it a breach of trust? It’s issues like these that the next generation of technologists and companies will need to grapple with.

We live in a time where companies can be created in a matter of seconds, with almost no employees and completely technology-based. And these companies live and breathe on the model of owning data and using that data to provide services. That model creates innovative technology companies and opportunities for technology professionals. But those opportunities come with responsibilities.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

When we look at all the functional roles out there – project manager, data scientist, architect, cybersecurity manager – each and every one of these people has an important moral obligation. While they have an objective to make a profit, they also have a duty to protect their customers.

This is where authenticity and integrity are crucial. It’s about having guiding principles, both as an individual and as an organisation, to ensure every decision aligns to data protection, and ultimately, customer protection. It’s about asking: just because we can do this, is it the right thing to do?

At CGI, we put trust at the forefront of our engagements and understand the responsibilities that come with that. Often we’re leading conversations that are difficult and complex, rather than simply focusing on tactical outcomes and ignoring the risks. In the case of data science work, this means having security advisory at the back end to ensure the right level of data protection is embedded in the architecture.

Data scientists and technologists no doubt have skills that play an important functional role in today’s organisations. But I think what makes these professionals most powerful is the ability to understand the context in which they’re applying their skills, and the responsibilities that come with it. Those who can master both the technical and ethical aspects stand to have a profound impact on the business landscape.