What is the Chief Data Officer’s role

What is the Chief Data Officer’s role?

What is the Chief Data Officer’s role?

The 2nd of 3 blogs looking at the role of the CDO.

Historically, Data has always been in the white space.  There was no formal ownership structure in place, and those who could take ownership, generally end-user departments, often did not step up or act as corporate citizens.  This led to a fragmentation of approaches and the establishment of data silos.  The result was the introduction of inconsistencies and inadequate corporate data management practices.

Ownership of business data should not be the role of IT

In the absence of business users stepping up, ownership often was picked up by, or abrogated to, the IT Department.  However, IT is not the appropriate owner of business data (perhaps other than data about IT itself).

The Chief Data Officer (CDO) is the leader of a new back office function (alongside HR, Finance, Facilities, IT, Legal, etc.). The function is not an active part of the value chain, so can be viewed as an overhead unless it drives value – defined as avoidance of loss from fines due to compliance, and driving the improved monetisation of data, in all its forms, across the business.

To be demonstrate value the CDO needs to be the pro-active owner of data as business concept

To demonstrate value the CDO needs to be the pro-active owner of data as business concept, in much the same way that IT owns the equipment or the service but does not own the CRM application or the financial system.  The CDO is accountable for the protection of the asset class so should be engaged in impact assessments for new projects.

In the past the IT organisation would pick up much of the white space, but now we have a CDO to take on some of these roles.  Often individuals in IT see this as their territory simply because it always has been and therefore this is where the battle lines commence.  These battles may include who is most senior, what kind of analytics we want, the ownership of the Business Intelligence and Analytics teams, the data management tools and technology choices.  Sadly, these things can get personal.  More enlightened IT departments may see the existence of a CDO as an opportunity to make Data Governance work properly.  Many Data Governance projects have failed because external stakeholders have not been sufficiently engaged.  The CDO is the opportunity to give Data Governance a re-boot without it being an IT-led initiative.

Read the previous blog on the role of the CDO here.