The Chief Data Officer is rapidly becoming a key leadership player in leading data-intensive organizations. While the emerging role is complementary to the CIO, the CDO requires business skills to drive the most value from data. CDO’s are also becoming a catalyst to consolidate silos of business intelligence and analytics.
What are some of the key responsibilities of today’s CDO?
In “The Chief Data Officer: The True Dean of Big Data?” Bill Schmarzo, EMC²’s CTO argues the new CDO role should be described as Chief Data Monetization Officer.
Schmarzo recommends the CDO have an economics education because economists have been trained to assign value to abstract concepts and assets. He adds that the CDO doesn’t need an IT background (that’s the CIO’s job).
I highly recommend reading the entire article but a few key quotes stand out:
Question #1: CDO Responsibilities:
The CDO owns quantifying the value of data and championing efforts to monetize that data.
Question #2: What domains should fall under the CDOs role, assuming that the CDO reports to the CEO?
The Data Science team needs to fall under the purview of the CDO. The data science team is going to need a senior management champion and the CDO is the best choice. Heck, I’d even put the Business Intelligence (BI) team under the purview of the CDO in order to drive closer collaboration and share learnings across the BI and data science organizations.
Question #3: Is a Center of Excellence approach valid for a CDO area?
Definitely! I think a Data & Analytics CoE is critical to the success of the CDO and the data monetization efforts.
Key responsibilities of the CoE would include:
- Hiring, development, promotion, retention and talent management of the data science and Business Intelligence teams (even if they do sit within the business units)
- Continuous training program and certification on new technologies and analytic algorithms
- Active industry and university monitoring to stay on top of most current data and data science trends
- Business Intelligence, data visualization, statistical and data mining tool evaluations and recommendations
- Capturing, sharing and management (library function) of Business Intelligence, data warehousing and advanced analytics/data science best practices across the organization
- Identifying analytic processes worthy of patent protection
The CoE becomes the sun around which the data science and business intelligence personnel “orbit” from a skills and career development perspective.
What does the CDO need to do to overcome challenges of the CDO role and the organization?
The CDO will need to learn to work closely with Finance in order to develop data acquisition and data monetization ROI estimates. Finance will keep the CDO honest with respect to creating value, but expect that relationship to be a bit “challenged” because Finance seems to struggle with putting value on intangible assets like data and analytic insight. That’s where the CDO’s economics background will help.
Finally, the CDO Challenge:
The CDO role will be a significant challenge. Not only is it new, so there are no predefined best practices to leverage, but also trying to determine the value of data and analytics is something at which few organizations have mastered.
Something to think about: Is your CDO focused on getting the most value from your data? How are you measuring this value?