Data & Intelligence

The Priorities Of A Modern Chief Data Officer

The role of a CIO and CDO in understanding their organization's data

Gartner predicted that by 2021, 75% of organizations will consider the office of the chief data officer (CDO) as critical as human resources, finance or IT. The CDO’s role, for many organizations, is a tough role to fill, and its expectations include the following:

  • Act as a change agent for the organization, empowering them to become data-driven and digitally transformed.
  • Be a subject matter expert that understands your organization’s goals and business needs, the competitive market landscape, industry trends in data and advanced analytics, regulations and the ethical and possibly global implications of using data for decision-making.
  • Be a technology thought leader building a world-class enterprise data and analytics (DnA) platform.
  • Act as a profit-and-loss manager by keeping track of the organization’s overall spend.
  • Build an industry-leading data platform by adopting a bimodal approach to information delivery.

To meet these demands, a CDO should be a high performer and should work offensively instead of defensively. In my experience working with a number of CIOs and CDOs, I have compiled some top priorities that you should consider when aiming to become cutting-edge or leading-edge.

Formalize The Value Of Data

When Gartner published their 2021 IT priorities, they announced that by 2022, 30% of CDOs will partner with their CFO to formally evaluate their organization’s information assets. To start, determine the value of the targeted business initiative, key performance indicators that will quantify that value and the data needed to deliver that KPI. In my article on data marketplaces, I have outlined some techniques and tools that you can use to create a marketplace that can support data exchange and assign value to your data.

Clarify And Communicate A DnA Strategy

A data strategy 10 years ago would involve moving to the cloud, robust enterprise data governance, master data management, self-service analytics, AI, data lakes and a data warehouse. While these are still relevant, for a modern CDO, they should not drive a DnA strategy. Your focus should be on business strategies such as growth, innovation and M&A, along with themes such as business process optimization, data monetization, data marketplaces, regulatory compliance and data privacy. In addition, CDOs should consistently share their vision with the business as a whole to keep everyone on board.

Prioritize Change Management

Organizations are run by people (not AI), and people resist change. Peter Drucker once famously stated that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” While 87% of CXOs agree that becoming an intelligent enterprise is their top priority by 2025, your organization has to embrace a data-driven culture to do this. Putting a training and communication plan in place and easing people through the change should be a top priority for a CDO.

Sponsor And Support Data Governance

The most effective CDOs who produce high business value and measurable results must address data sharing and decentralized analytics. This means high-quality data, an inventory of all your data assets, and the discipline of managing data across the enterprise using data governance. Data governance cannot be about bureaucracy. It has to be value-driven, agile and focused on data architecture, security and interoperability.

Implement A Centralized DnA Platform

As organizations go through digital disruption, they are changing their legacy business processes into digitized and digitalized processes. This includes customer interactions, core operations such as HR and finance and supply chain operations. However, this also means more ways of creating new data, consuming data and converting data into insights. To support this, the CDO has to implement a centralized DnA platform that serves the enterprise. In addition, invest in a modern data platform that can provide accelerated cost benefits for the enterprise. Data platform vendors such as Azure, AWS and GCP offer best practices when it comes to this journey.

Measure Business Value Using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

KPIs measure a specific aspect of your business and align them with organizational objectives and key results. Informatica stated that 80% of KPIs that CDOs focus on are related to operational efficiency, productivity, customer satisfaction and innovation. In addition, CDOs that focus on timely data will help them identify trends early. This will help business leaders start planning organizational moves in the right direction.

Form Partnerships

CDOs should build relationships internally with various colleagues to understand their goals and objectives — and align their data strategy accordingly. While there are various studies confirming this, one study from McKinsey showed that CDOs who form alliances internally are 2.7 times more successful than the ones who don’t. CDOs should also form partnerships externally with technology platform vendors such as Microsoft and Amazon, industry analysts such as Forbes, Gartner and Forrester and global system integrators.

CDOs are increasingly being seen as business leaders rather than just technology leaders — and their getting seats at their organizations’ strategy tables. However, this also comes with heightened expectations. A successful CDO will map out their data strategy, implement a data-focused technology landscape, become a change agent in making the organization data-literate and constantly realign their information inventory based on business outcomes and needs. However, an innovative and exceptional CDO will use information as an asset and find ways to use that data to impact the bottom line of the organization.

This article originally appeared here.

About the Author

Arvind Murali is the Chief Data Strategist for Data Governance with Perficient. His role includes defining data strategy and governance to deliver transformative data platforms. Arvind has served as an executive advisor for data strategy and governance to organizations across several industries. Arvind’s dedication to solving challenges and identifying new opportunities has provided valuable business-focused results for clients, such as providing self-service access to data for global sales teams; helping physicians create informed wellness plans; and delivering insights about current supply chain inventories. He is a passionate Vlogger on YouTube and discusses real-world insights, data platform trends, and the importance of governance as big data continues its exponential growth.

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