Want to be a rockstar chief data officer? Here’s how

Congratulations, you’ve bagged the coveted position of chief data officer (CDO). Now, do your best to accelerate your organization’s data-driven digital transformation. However, this is easier said than done. Sure, 90 percent of big companies might hire a CDO by 2019, but that doesn’t change the fact that the role is quite nascent and somewhat undefined.

A newly appointed chief data officer like yourself often finds themselves thrown in the deep end while navigating resources, responsibilities, and reporting structures. The absence of an established resource pool and roadmap makes it hard for CDOs to set up relationships across the company quickly.

Thankfully, we’ve gathered all the information you need to settle in comfortably into your new role, evangelizing the strategic role of data, and promoting governance and intelligent data management practices. Read on:

1. You’re the new leader for data-driven business – act like one

We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again — being a chief data officer isn’t easy. It’s a fairly new position, one that requires you to take analytics and data aspects seriously, and prepare for them accordingly. You should mentally prepare yourself to hit the ground running, and write the rules as you go along.

Do not be intimidated by the volume, complexity, and velocity of data that comes your way. You should also be in a position to handle governance and security problems. Keep an open mind and embrace any new practice, technology, infrastructure, and theory that comes your way.

Sounds like a lot to handle? That’s because it is. And, it doesn’t end there — CDOs must assume responsibility for initiating information-based business transformation, greater risk management, value creation, and IT operational efficiency.

2. Be culturally aware and analytically minded in business

The mark of a successful CDO is being able to influence the behavior and culture of colleagues and peers, pushing the company to more data-driven, analytical, and information-specific heights. As you start maturing into the role, you will be better equipped to deal with growing demands by recognizing varied cultural traits that focus on the business value of data.

3. Maintain clean data

Dirty or corrupted data holds no value for an organization. Unfortunately, the influx of tremendous amounts of data means that organizations often have to contend with the problem of stagnant or dirty data swamps.

This is a veritable nightmare situation with every estimate being off, every report run being incorrect, and every list being inaccurate. Without clean data, it could also mean that the results you seek are hidden from sight.

As the chief data officer, it is your job to promote consistent and clear data capturing and labeling techniques for every team within your organizational structure. Also, you must make sure that users maintain those processes.

4. Establish the link between business processes, analytics, data, and outcomes

If you draw attention to these linkages, you can develop business relevancy and present yourself as the driving force behind data-driven business value. So, never lose out on the opportunity to become that person within the organization who recognizes, articulates, and evangelizes the business value of data for better results.

The thing is, irrespective of how many bar graphs and pie charts they look at, not everyone can find the meaning in data. And the fact that you as a chief data officer can use technology like machine learning to uncover insights and trends is impressive. Moreover, the insights you draw from the data can be used to shave off hours from production time, reducing millions of dollars in losses or travel time.

5. Chief data officer is the digital adviser for the company

digital advisor

According to Gartner, 71 percent of CDOs assume the role of thought leaders when it comes to growing digital models. Apart from that, they help form a digital business vision for the whole organization.

For a company to derive value from their Big Data, it is evident that they need someone like you on their team who can implement the newest and best strategies related to data monetization. Plus, it doesn’t hurt if you know the best way to gain revenue from large data stores, setting you up for future success (kind of like all those winning “Transformer” movies – that is the epitome of success).

6. Develop a competitive environment in the organization

Becoming a Rockstar Chief Data Officer

Beating someone at their own game is extremely easy when you have more knowledge about it than they do. From the perspective of business, this implies that CDOs need to understand their customers, along with their interests and needs. So, you need to figure out how your audience prefers to communicate, the products/services they’re most likely to buy, and how those needs can be satisfied in the best possible ways.

Thanks to emerging technology trends like machine learning and Internet of Things, CDOs are now able to glean these insights easily, whether it’s regarding the supply chain or social media. You should be able to analyze that data, and ensure it reaches the right group of decision-makers and teams, so you can mine it further for more insights.

7. Lend your support to the C-team

Let’s make one thing clear — as a CDO, you are familiar with the ins and outs of data better than anybody else. This comes in handy when your CIO, CFO, and CMO are attempting to harness the power of the data they have access to.

You should encourage them to utilize the data in more effective ways. But keep in mind that you should never hoard data (you don’t want to be a hoarder – like that episode in “House”— she kept her own socks from 20 years ago!). Instead, you must protect it and share it with as many people in your organization as you can, so they benefit greatly from it.

8. Break down the data silos

If you’ve ever been part of a team that refrained from sharing information, you know how infuriating it all becomes. But this is more common than you think — employees may work for the same organization but they often forget they are part of the same team.

So, data soon becomes something everyone’s fighting over, rather than sharing and processing it freely. Being a company leader, you — in your new role as the CDO — must break down the silos to ensure every relevant player in the company enjoys access to the data and changes their decisions accordingly.

Everything data-related is your responsibility

The increasing popularity of the CDO role demonstrates why advocating the value of data assets and assuming leadership of data-driven digital businesses matter. Yet, the immaturity and infancy of the position pose certain challenges.

The truth is, you need to understand that filling the shoes of a company’s CDO signifies that everything data-related that is going on within the organization is your responsibility. Having the right support and a clear strategy and vision can work wonders for your chief data officer profile.

Photo credit: Flickr/ Airman Magazine

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