BoE speech: data and analytics strategy refresh

James Benford, BoE Executive Director for Data and Analytics Transformation and Chief Data Officer, has delivered a speech on BoE’s new Bank-wide approach to data and analytics strategy at Tech Show London.

The strategy refresh focuses on strengthening data governance and management, enhancing external data sharing, establishing a new platform on the Cloud and exploring the piloting of AI tools. It aims to represent a broadened approach to skills and modernise BoE’s analytical processes.

The speech outlined that whilst BoE’s previous strategy was partly successful in promoting the adoption of modern techniques amongst its workforce, progress was not smooth and hampered by a variety of barriers. Mr Benford set out seven steps BoE is taking to refresh and update their approach, including:

  • Independent review. BoE commissioned its Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) to review BoE’s approach and consider whether decision-making to support the Bank’s policy objectives is informed by the best available data, analysis and intelligence. Its conclusions were published in October 2023, which identified nervousness in the adoption of new technologies like cloud solutions, and a hesitancy in departing from established working methods. It set out ten recommendations for improvement.
  • Define governance structures to shape a collective response. BoE formed a new Data and Analytics Board with responsibility for progressing the Data and Analytics strategy. Bringing together a federated system of local data boards, it aims to support all parts of BoE to improve the use of data in supporting its business objectives. The Technology and Data Advisory Panel has also been established to advise and challenge BoE’s approach.
  • Define medium term strategic goals. Drawing together business aims, BoE has grouped the change they seek into four missions: stronger data governance to improve accessibility to data; work with UK and international organisations to share data and drive adoption; a new cloud platform to modernise data analysis; and applying technologies like AI to build on it.
  • Agree principles and a consistent data architecture to guide approach. A bank-wide approach has been agreed and specific standards on data management and analytical processes have been incorporated into BoE’s Code, providing comprehensive guidance to staff. A new Cloud strategy aims to manage the Bank’s data on the cloud.
  • Agree immediate priorities for a data portfolio. There are three priority programmes for the year ahead, including moving BoE’s systems to the Cloud; renewing the system underpinning management and analysis of macroeconomic and financial market data to further support monetary policy decisions; and transforming the approach to regulatory data collections. BoE will also pilot AI tools across the institution.
  • Seizing the opportunity of change to rework end-to-end operating models. Jointly with FCA, BoE aims to transform data collection and, focusing on data collated from banks, build a system that provides the correct data in a cost-efficient way.
  • Publish and mobilise to execute the plan, to track and manage the risks and benefits. The final step of BoE’s approach is to outline how it will publish and enact the plan. A commitment to a three-year roadmap with the Bank’s annual report in June has been identified as a valuable method for focusing attention on the plan, together with an ongoing commitment to report on progress to the Board, and ensuring the right structures are in place to manage and track ongoing risks and benefits.

Mr Benford concluded that although the strategy will not be implemented overnight, progress will be reported on regularly and learnings shared to increase accountability.

Harry Wells