Companies of all sizes can easily find themselves drowning in data generated from websites, landing pages, social streams, emails, text messages, and many other sources. Additionally, there is data in their own repositories. With so much data at their disposal, companies are under mounting pressure to utilize it to generate insights. These insights are critical because they can (and should) drive the overall business strategy and help companies make better business decisions. To leverage the power of data analytics, businesses need more “top-management muscle” specialized in the field of data science. This specialized field has lead to the creation of roles like Chief Data Officer (CDO).
In addition, with more companies undertaking digital transformations, there’s greater impetus for the C-suite to make data-driven decisions. The CDO helps make data-driven decisions and also develops a digital business strategy around those decisions. As data grows at an unstoppable rate, becoming an inseparable part of key business functions, we will see the CDO act as a bridge between other C-suite execs.
A CDO provides vision and strategy for all data management activities. He is a champion for global data management, governance, and quality and vendor relationships across the enterprise. The CDO oversees the Enterprise Information Management (EIM) program, data scientists and data stewards and data service providers. He establishes data policies, standards, organization and enforcement of EIM concepts. The CDO oversees and reports on data metrics. And he has executive-level responsibility for all enterprise information/data management budgeting and initiatives. Here are key CDO responsibilities:
Data Governance: Here, the CDO must organize and implement policies, procedures, structures, roles and responsibilities that outline and enforce rules of engagement, decision rights and the accountabilities for the effective management of information assets’
Maximize Data Quality: The CDO must determine her company’s current data quality and maturity level – of which there are five. (1) Uncertainty, which typically involves the organization stumbling over data defects as programs crash and employees complain. There’s no proactive improvement process in place. (2) Awakening, during which a few individuals acknowledge the dirty data and try to incorporate quality in their projects before formal enterprise-wide support arrives. (3) Enlightenment is when the organization starts to address the root causes of dirty data through program edits and data quality training. A data quality group usually emerges here. (4) Wisdom arrives as the organization proactively works on preventing future data defects, and data quality incentives arrive. (5) Certainty emerges as the organization shifts to an optimization cycle – continuously monitoring and improving its data defect-prevention process.
Standards: A CDO must establish enterprise standards – including a uniform and repeatable system development lifecycle methodology. For instance, there’s a common set of standards for data naming, abbreviations and acronyms.
Business Intelligence: This is not about buying a single, most effective business intelligence tool. Rather, BI is about establishing an architecture and a collection of integrated decision-support applications and databases – providing the business community easy access to business data.
Data Warehousing: While definitions vary, data warehousing can involve a single massive database or a collection of data marts that are integrated. The data warehouse strategy should provide consistent, clean and integrated data. Executives, in turn, use the resulting information to make more informed decisions.
Data Management: Master data is how the CDO and her team describe real-world entities – customers, products, employees, suppliers, etc.
Enterprise Data Modeling: EDM often begins as a high-level conceptual data model showing core business objectives (entities) and their data relationships. The EDM model may never be completed, but it still delivers value by allowing CDOs to discover and resolve data discrepancies among different views and implementations of the same data. range of tools to implement how you capture, integrate and share that MDM information.
Metadata Management: An example of metadata is the information embedded in a digital picture – such as the brand and model of the camera, the data and time the picture was taken, etc. In business, you need to capture the right types of metadata – such as business names, definitions and valid domain values; or perhaps ownership (CFO, HR); or security settings (public, company confidential, HR only, senior management only).
Unstructured and Big Data: Unstructured data includes social media, emails, medical records, pictures, videos and sensor data like RFID. A CDO must take inventory of all that unstructured data – the big data challenge – determining its format, security, ownership and quality. The result could be new storage needs. She must also determine which unstructured data should – and shouldn’t – be captured.
Data in the cloud: Moving data off-premises to a cloud services provider (CSP) often is an attractive option – especially for startups that don’t want to build their own storage infrastructure. But the CDO must weigh variables like privacy, security, compliance, ownership and performance questions tied to cloud storage.
Business Performance Metrics: The CDO’s team must build business performance dashboards – a business performance management system. It provides timely information and insights that enable employees to improve decisions, optimize processes and plans, and work proactively.
Maintain Security and Privacy: Determine and enforce specific security and privacy requirements for each piece of data – especially as it relates to privacy laws, industry regulations and corporate compliance mandates.
Develop Intellectual Capital: Here, the CDO and her team document how the business is run – including policies and procedures that can be shared in training materials; glossaries; name and contact rosters; and even gathering information from employees’ heads to deal with day to day problems and more.
Establish CxO Credibility: More and more pundits state that the CDO position is not a technical position – and therefore should not report to a CIO or CTO in IT. Rather, CDOs increasingly report to CFOs, COOs or CEOs – working with the executive team and CIO to align business and technology initiatives.