cdo-2021

What are the ingredients for becoming a good Chief Data Officer in 2021?

March 18, 2021
cdo-2021

In a world where data is a major strategic asset, the Chief Data Officer is undeniably a key role for enterprises today. In our last article on CDOs, we discussed what exactly a Chief Data Officer is, and some of his or her key missions in an organization. Now more than ever, as a key player in managing data processes and usages, the CDO must have both technical and human capacities. Let’s take a look at how to be a good Chief Data Officer in 2021!

Pedagogy, support, empathy, vision… Here are some of the many characteristics that can be difficult to combine and reconcile on a daily basis.

And yet, because the role of the Chief Data Officer is as strategic as it is operational, he or she must not only be able to rely on their technical competences, but must also back his or her actions with the support of general management, all while remaining in contact with the business teams.

In order to meet these challenges, the CDO must therefore demonstrate both know-how and interpersonal skills. On the one hand, they must be able to propose new solutions and tools that allow the company to correctly analyze and exploit data, and on the other hand, know how to put data at the center of the company, in order to build a data culture and create links between the business and IT.

 

An increasingly wide scope of action

In their study entitled What are the roles and challenges of today’s Chief Data Officer (CDO)? – Focus on a key function of data-driven transformation (French), PwC defines the challenges CDOs are currently facing: 

“As data teams have been set up in large groups, the challenge now is shifting to get all the organization’s departments to work together. The acculturation of the company and the training of data teams are at the heart of the Chief Data Officer’s challenges.  This reality is reinforced by another observation: “The CDO must adapt to the transition from legacy systems to new data storage and analysis technologies, as well as to interfaces that respond to new uses (Cloud, Data Marketplaces, Data virtualization, IoT, chatbot, etc.). 

Finally, as the authors of the study’s summary pointed out, “with the growth in the number of use cases combining RPA and AI, the Chief Data Officer’s field of action is expanding”. Proof that the CDO’s missions are very critical for organizations. 

Another study conducted by IDC on behalf of Informatica and published in August 2020, revealed that 59% of CDOs surveyed report directly to a key company official, including the CEO. And the Chief Data Officer is directly involved in business performance. In fact, the same study points out that 80% of the Chief Data Officer’s KPIs are related to business objectives (operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, data protection, innovation, revenue and productivity).

 

The CDO’s challenges on a daily basis

The essential role of the Chief Data Officer is to build a relevant, high-performing, and valuable data pipeline, while putting together a team capable of bringing this valuable asset to life and transforming it into raw material that can be used by all business lines. 

This mission requires the Chief Data Officer to put together teams made up of competent and totally data-driven people. This is one of the major difficulties according to IDC. 71% of respondents have only four or fewer data managers, and 26% have none! The ability to recruit, surround oneself with and lead a data team is therefore a major challenge for the CDO. 

But it is not the only one. 

If we refer to the PwC study already mentioned above, it appears that for 70% of the Chief Data Officers questioned, data acculturation is implemented within their company. This acculturation is primarily achieved by setting up documentation on data that is shared and accessible to everyone, including non-IT profiles. This is another major challenge for CDOs, which is to act as a bridge between the IT players in the company and all of the business lines.  

“We see that this is accentuated by the scaling up of data projects, moving from initiatives on a limited perimeter – more in the form of a “Proof of Concept” (PoC) – to global projects involving multiple stakeholders,” PwC stated. The CDO is responsible for developing data processes to improve data quality and is present on all fronts. 

A true conductor who must know how to instill energy and dynamism to contribute to the economic recovery of companies in 2021!

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