The Chief Data Officer (CDO) – Too Many Roles in the Post-pandemic Era
Do you want your data to have a voice? Yes, data can speak volumes that can impact the success of enterprises across the globe. A CDO plays a key role in driving data literacy and building the required data competencies within organizations. Do you know that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) first hired a Chief Data Officer, when Covid-19 hit the U.S. in March 2020?
Can a CDO transform your digital landscape? Digital transformation has become a necessity in the post-pandemic era and a digital business cannot exist without Data and Analytics. Every digital strategy is aimed to maximize value leveraging Data and Analytics assets while orchestrating the digital moments for every business line. Data is no more a service according to business needs, but a catalyst in the digital business transformation. 72% of Data and Analytics leaders with digital initiatives are either leading or highly involved in digital transformation initiatives, as per Gartner.
The role of CDO got prominence in recent years, 70% of the organizations had CDOs in 2018 and with the pandemic, every organization is looking forward to this role.
Many Facets of CDO
Most industries navigating through the crisis gave in all the efforts they could to leverage data. Healthcare providers, for example, leveraged data from countries that were already affected to predict their case counts, hospital needs, and ventilators. The retail sector used their sales and multi-channel data to ensure hassle free shipments to their consumers. State and local governments were not an exception too, data literacy, governance, and proper tools management were at the top priority to transform into data-driven public organizations. With the crisis, the CDO role is now not limited to one aspect of data and evolved to handle multiple mission-critical responsibilities. Let us take at the outline of each of them.
1. Data Evangelist
A role that has become increasingly common in the post-pandemic era for almost every industry. Oversight of data management, data science, analytics, and machine learning as a reasonable combination is critical in this role for successful data implementations. Analytics and AI in the post-pandemic era are being leveraged by every organization and so is the importance of these responsibilities to a CDO.
2. Data Entrepreneur
Monetizing data is being widespread across businesses. The automobile industry for example is trying to monetize connected vehicle data for a few years. Data is no longer an idle asset; businesses are either selling it to third parties or using data and analytics-based products or evolving new business models to unleash value everywhere. In the wake of this CDO’s now have a revenue responsibility too.
3. Data Architect and Developer
Data Management does not come so easily for any organization. Successful creation of a data warehouse or a data lake can only progress to a better insight-driven organization. Application development is no more under the entire gambit of Chief Information Officer, occasionally CDO’s need to overlook data-driven applications. For example, Morgan Stanley’s CDO led a project to build an investment recommendation tool for clients.
4. Data Steward
Establishing trust, building a data-driven system for the organization’s change often come with a lot of challenges. At the same time, it is also tough to find a data defender and governance expert in the same person. A few organizations say for example in financial services have a strong focus on both these responsibilities to protect the data while also establishing strong governance policies.
Earlier, most of the organizations focused on just one or two of the above responsibilities for a CDO. With the current changes being embraced across every industry, there is way too much that is expected from a CDO. Let us look at the challenges too.
A few Challenges Encountered by the CDO’s
Every CDO must tackle a few roadblocks for a smooth head-on to their success. A few of them are:
Establishing the organization’s data goals
In the current rapid business ecosystems, choosing between operational efficiency and revenue streams has become the focus for everyone. The CDO is now at the driver’s seat for this new economic value of data and its importance as the foundation for every decision. Leading this change to a data-driven organization not only requires technical acumen but also key business sense and leadership. Focusing on the strategic direction of the data and evolving disruptive thinking within everyone is crucial for a CDO.
Disparate data sets to a single view
Today’s data is in multiple silos and types sitting in the cloud, on-premises, or local drives. Business executives prefer 360 degrees view of their data, a CEO to look for business performance, CFO for financial planning, CMO may need the brand value or competitive analysis. All this in a single screen at everyone’s comfort and this is the primary reason to look at a potential CDO. Integrating disparate data sets is just not the goal but a primary challenge to be upheld for a CDO.
Finding great technology partners and right tools
With the pace of changes in the role of CDOs, it is inevitable to work with external technology vendors and consultants. So many companies are pitching for data management but finding the right partner to fit your strategic goals is the inherent challenge. At the same time, with a multitude of open source and paid tools ecosystems, it is not so easy to find the best tools for your goals.
Gopi is the President and CEO of Saxon Global Inc since its inception and is responsible for the overall leadership, strategy, and management of the Company. As a true visionary, Gopi is quick to spot the next-generation technology trends and navigate the organization to build centers of excellence. As a digital leader responsible for driving company growth and ROI, he believes in a business strategy built upon continuous innovation, investment in core capabilities, and a unique partner ecosystem. Gopi has served as founding member and 2018 President of ITServe, a non-profit organization of all mid-sized IT Services organization in US.