Top 3 Reasons You Need a Chief Data Officer

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In order for any business to realize the value of its data, the data should be activity managed across the entire organization. And that means someone should have clear responsibility

In order for any business to realize the value of its data, the data should be activity managed across the entire organization. And that means someone should have clear responsibility for the data.

But who should that be?

According to Capgemini, that person should be the chief data officer (CDO).

Unlike the chief information officer and the chief technology officer who are concerned with the technological infrastructure of an organization, the CDO is focused on the quality, management, governance and the availability of data.

To accomplish this, the CDO comes equipped with executive-level authority over data. And when it comes to data, “the buck stops” with the CDO, meaning the chief data officer is accountable to the board of directors, the executive management team, and other stakeholders.

With the advent of an increasing variety of data sources – data from mobile devices, web session logs, sensors, structured data, unstructured data, clickstream, etc. – the CDO’s position is gaining increased importance. The CDO sets the direction of the data management office (DMO), a new office designed to serve as the central unit for any issues related to data. The CDO also selects, manages and trains individuals in their new roles as data scientists.

While the Capgemini article lists 18 drivers that have led to the adoption of the CDO, I have boiled the author’s main points down to three:

  1. Data Stewardship – The CDO should be the person anointed by executive management to be the chief data owner, strategist and the C-level data champion.
  2. Data Aggregation – The CDO should lead policies to bring together data silos from distributed systems across the organization. The CDO should be responsible for building bridges between business units, creating an enterprise focus for the data. Data aggregation leads to budget consolidations since individual business units will have to coordinate data efforts though the DMO, eliminating both the duplication of efforts and data disparity.
  3. Data Communication –The CDO should ensure that business units across the organization communicate effectively by eliminating data semantic disparity. The CDO will maintain standard business terms so that when one unit is referencing a data term it has the same meaning to all units of the organization. For example, when finance talks to products about profits the two departments are talking about the same data attributes. To accomplish this the DMO, led by the CDO, will be responsible for identifying critical enterprise data elements including taxonomies, glossaries, business dictionaries, metadata management, and information rationalization. The CDO is also the designated champion from senior management to educate and guide the company in putting strategic data plans into operation.

Data is a strategic asset that needs to be managed and promoted on the executive level. Management of data includes data governance, data policy development, management of the DMO and all things related to the timeliness and quality of data. The CDO is increasingly becoming the C-level executive charged with ensuring that the organization’s data is available and in good shape – helping the organization realize the true value in its data.

Next steps:

  • Subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on the latest insights and trends in big data, data analytics and data management.
  • See how Spotfire version 4.5 can empower your CDO to discover actionable insights hidden in big data and unstructured information in our on-demand webcast, “What’s New with Spotfire 4.5.”

Dennis Earl Hardy
Spotfire Blogging Team

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