“There is a new position, the Chief Data Officer. It’s a good idea, but there has been poor execution. What has been happening is taking a CIO and giving them a new title of CDO. However, it should be the Chief Data Monetisation Officer. The job is to determine how to monetise the data you have available. This should be an economics person rather than IT person.” – Jacob Morgan: Principal of Chess Media Group.
Businesses making it a top priority to bring in a Chief Data Officer are doing so as a means to ensure the quality, governance and performance of their Big Data projects are at their best. The threat of losing opportunities from disruptive innovation and the fear of being unable to manage the exponential growth of data has been a key reason for the large increase in hiring for this role.
“For some organisations today, data has become such an explosive part of business that they have created a Chief Data Officer (CDO) position to reside next to the Chief Information Officer and the Chief Technology Officer. This evolution clearly acknowledges that data in the business setting is separate from the systems running it. Beyond that, it recognises that data has a value that, if fully exploited, can help drive profitable business.” – Wired.
With business acumen, ability to lead change and suitable IT awareness as initial qualifiers, there are many other factors that an executive leader should take into consideration before taking the leap and appointing a Chief Data Officer. Here are a few;
#1 – Establishing A Clear Outline Of Roles & Responsibilities
First and foremost, in order ensure the new executive you’re bringing on board is set up on a path to success, it’s important to present the leadership team with a clear definition of roles & responsibilites, and a solid understanding of what the organisation is hoping to achieve. This will help the CDO create a roadmap that is aligned with the organisation’s goals and highlights potential obstacles that need to be addressed, as well as minimise border skirmishes with CIO and CTO peers. The CDO must be suitably empowered and supported to equip them to succeed. The role is unlikely to deliver the required value to the business without authority and support, especially given the CDO’s remit can include challenging existing practices and contributing to digital transformation within the organisation.
“A successful roadmap should divide the implementation into logical phases in order to reduce implementation risk. Phases should be around three months in duration. Taking on all the metrics and goals at the same time or in large chunks is very risky primarily because business users lose interest if they are not engaged on an ongoing basis. Prioritise your roadmap phases in order of importance to your business so that you reap the most benefits from your analytics early in your roadmap and provide justification for additional phases. Strong early success provides the critical mass and positive impression about analytics which leads to stronger business adoption.” – StatSlice.
#2 – Building The Right Team
“As well as a financial cost, there’s obviously also a cost in human resources and time. If you have data scientists bumbling their way through hundreds of projects with no clear aim, or decoding terabytes of data you have no clear, immediate use for, they’re likely to be unavailable, or distracted, when something of real value comes along. Having the right people with the right skills in the right place is essential.” – Talend.
Part of the responsibility of a Chief Data Officer is to hire the right team and effectively navigate the success of Big Data projects. In order to put together an A-level team, there needs to be a clear set of qualities, characteristics and expectations of prior experience that the CDO must look out for in the hiring process. A considered approach to recruitment and selection, recognising the change process the business must navigate, will help to select the stand-out candidates that are most suitable for the role.
One example is hiring a Data Scientist. Some of the most important traits include statistical thinking, good communication skills, creativity, curiosity, and of course, the right technical skills.
“A great data scientist has a hacker’s spirit. Technical flexibility is as important as experience, because in this field the gold standards change with an alarming rate. Data scientists work together, love open source, and share our knowledge and experience to make sure that we can move at the speed of demand. If your data scientist is a quick study, you’ve made a sound investment beyond the current trend cycle.” – Datascope Analytics.
#3 – Strategic Allocation Of Budget & Resources
“Analytics – the ability to find meaningful patterns in data – can help manage costs, lead to efficiency and better decisions, increase services and make better use of capital.” – Carlos Londono: Global Supply Chain VP at Owens Illinois Inc.
A CDO is responsible for the cost, schedule, delegation of tasks, coaching and technical performance of a Big Data project. In order to be able to implement change, invest in the right technology and systems for processing data, oversee and guide the team and achieve a profitable outcome, effective project management techniques must be adopted to keep track of whether objectives and KPIs are being met.
Among these is also the responsibility to determine which which project management method is most suitable for the project, a popular choice among many organisations being the Agile method.
“By delivering the work in small increments of working – even production ready – software, those assumptions are all validated early on. All code, design, architecture and requirements are validated every time a new increment is delivered, even the plan is validated as teams get real and accurate data around the progress of the project. But the early validation is not the only benefit that Agile brings, it also allows projects to learn from the feedback, take in new or changing requirements and quickly change direction when necessary, without changing the process at all.” – Gino Marckx: Founder & Business Improvement Consultant at Xodiac Inc.
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