Modern CDO

The Forward-Thinking, Innovative Chief Data Officer

The Chief Data Officer role is a business leadership role. It’s accountable for the definition and execution of an organisation strategy and plan that delivers incremental business value through the application of data and analytics.


Using data to drive value

Using data has always been about driving value in your business. Sometimes that’s like a defensive play or an offensive play, but ultimately the successful day-to-day leaders over the last 10 years have harnessed data, applied insights to business problems, business situations, business opportunities, that help organisations make better decisions because of the access to the data that they have and the access to insight that that data can produce.


Clarity of accountability

In most organisations, having a Chief Data Officer (CDO) by name only is like having a paper cut-out of a person trying to help you push a heavy object up a steep hill.

The CDO needs to have clarity of accountability so that they can have clarity of purpose about what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and they need to have influence. It cannot be a role in name only – someone who isn’t able to drive an agenda. It can’t be someone who doesn’t have the backing of the organisation. It can’t be someone that isn’t able to drive influence or isn’t in a position of impact.


A CDO’s capabilities

Because data cuts across so many different departments, technologies, and pieces of an organisation internally and externally, it’s really important that they’re able to:

  1. Negotiate. Change and negotiate the way things are done. Influence the organisation to make change happen, to get strategies approved and to influence the way things are done.
  2. Communicate. They need to be able to educate people, tell stories and set expectations. They must be creative in the ways that they communicate messages, explain situations, vision, and practical plans.
  3. Adaptability.The level of adaptability that someone who’s not just sort of focused on a fixed plan, is what helps to come up with a plan but adapt themselves and their organisation and the teams that they are all looking at to make sure that they are always focused on the things that are most important.
  4. Listen and be pragmatic. This isn’t about applying what has worked before and just going off with that militantly. It’s got to be about understanding what’s happening, listening to an organisation, picking up on the cues that suggest something needs to be looked at, and also being pragmatic about the way things are done based on what you hear, but also what’s going on around you.


Choose the right people to take charge

Over the last 12 to 18 months or so, particularly through the pandemic, there has been a huge increase in organisations wanting to properly build a strategy around their data.

This is driven largely by the awakening, that data and insight in an organisation and insight into the business, into the customers, into the performance, really helped to trade through uncertain times. The continuing uncertainty is the only thing that’s certain.

So the ability to understand what’s going on, by using insights to help drive the decisions is going to be increasingly important.

This has led to an equal increase in organisations wanting to have the right level of type of people who are able to take charge and deliver on the promise that all of the opportunity that data can bring.


To summarise

Regardless of whether it’s a board-level position or otherwise putting the right people in the right structure, the right strategy and the right leadership in place, and building the right energy and attention to the topic of data and its associated impact is what’s going to be at the heart of business growth, in the coming years. As the emergence of the CDO role and the maturity of the CDO role begins to take hold and fix.


Want to know more about this topic? Listen to this episode of Hub & Spoken


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