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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

So You Are a New CDO

As a newly hired CDO, put these three objectives front and center in your new work.

In a previous article I spoke to the organization in the process of hiring a CDO. In this article, I will address those who are beginning in a CDO role and looking to make a greater impact. Those aspiring to the position will also find my advice useful.

For Further Reading:

3 Steps for Establishing Your Chief Data Office the Right Way

No CDO? Better Think about Getting One

5 Steps for CDOs to Transform Data into a Strategic Asset

In fact, we really need to start the discussion with accepting a CDO position. Before you accept, you should pay close attention to the precautions I described in the previous article -- all of which your potential employer should have addressed by this point. Otherwise, you'll face a continual drag on your effectiveness until you remedy the issues.

Specifically, if the enterprise is looking for specific product experience out of you (precaution 1), you need to show value outside of specific products to disabuse them of that notion. Likewise, if your high-level ideas about the company goals and vision are not aligned with the company (precaution 2), they'll need realigning. Does the company look to the future (precaution 3) and believe in data (precaution 4)? If not, you may not wish to accept the position.

Assuming those precautions have been addressed, let's examine the top objectives you should undertake as a CDO to ensure you will make a positive impact for the enterprise.

Objective #1: Manage the project portfolio

Creating, supporting, and terminating projects and programs with effective data is key to the success of any CDO. Those CDOs who are thriving provide both project support and cross-functional organizational support.

The CDO needs to strongly align with those data stores that have high leverage in the organization. These include master data management (MDM) hubs, data warehouses, and data lakes. Look for commonalities in data needs across the enterprise and how data stores can support many needs at once (no more single-purpose data marts, stovepipe systems, and one-offs). As a CDO, you must influence and support your enterprise's choice of platforms, and although many are necessary, selecting a few high-quality ones will add value instead of just managing quantity.

Most organizations aren't focused on the "right" projects -- those projects with the biggest benefit. Today, company strategy is data strategy, so as a CDO, you must select the strongest new projects and evaluate and prioritize the queue of existing projects.

Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, blockchain, predictive analytics, and self-service analytics are all "keeper" technologies because they can deliver on organizational goals and underlie many valuable projects.

Objective 2: Create accountability

The CDO function must rely on the guidance, advice, and judgment of a cross-section of upper management, one covering the range of enterprise data. This group provides strategic direction and arbitrates thorny, controversial data issues that may involve data ownership, sourcing, quality, priorities, or data breaches.

Whatever the status of your enterprise's data governance, continually take it to higher maturity levels. Data governance is a continuous process of improvement, and the CDO is responsible for the outcomes of the promise of data governance, whether that is in direct leadership or from a position of influence.

Objective 3: Protect the company

At the organizational policy-making level, there are global data retention policies to create and implement, data definitions to document, and high-level risk management decisions to make. GDPR will be part of many data privacy regulations to come, and although its provisions may not have a direct bearing on your company, the shift in data privacy controls towards regulation and the trend towards greater understanding by individuals about their data and how it's used certainly do. Adherence to existing regulations and closing any compliance gaps is a top job of the CDO, and that job starts with policy formation and implementation.

A Final Word

The objectives may seem overwhelming, but they are necessary. The good news is most organizations accept them as part of the charter of the CDO, so let's get down to work!

About the Author

McKnight Consulting Group is led by William McKnight. He serves as strategist, lead enterprise information architect, and program manager for sites worldwide utilizing the disciplines of data warehousing, master data management, business intelligence, and big data. Many of his clients have gone public with their success stories. McKnight has published hundreds of articles and white papers and given hundreds of international keynotes and public seminars. His teams’ implementations from both IT and consultant positions have won awards for best practices. William is a former IT VP of a Fortune 50 company and a former engineer of DB2 at IBM, and holds an MBA. He is author of the book Information Management: Strategies for Gaining a Competitive Advantage with Data.

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