Data: Should it be your board’s priority in 2018?

Data: Should it be your board’s priority in 2018?

Luke Webber is the Head of Data in Technology, Digital and Change Recruiter La Fosse Associates’ Executive Search Team. He shares his insights on the most impactful ways to drive data from the top down in 2018.

Many CIOs are feeling the burden of the data deluge that’s upon their organisations. Given the amount of responsibility they are currently handling, this isn’t surprising. In a world of major innovation, it is starting to feel like data is surmounting everything, leading to sky-high stress levels. This is where the CDO (Chief Data Officer) comes in.

I’m astounded that some organisations still treat CDOs as the C-Level’s poorer cousin. It’s either because they don’t have a need to be data-driven, or they don’t understand how valuable it is. Either way, the growing importance of a data lead in any organisation shouldn’t be underestimated. The organisational benefits of integrating a data strategy into a corporate business model is irrefutable. Gaining a competitive advantage, developing new initiatives and digital transformation are just three areas where data can transform a business for the better. If you think you should be prioritising your data but don’t know where to start, hiring a CDO might be your best next major undertaking. Here is a three-point checklist to help you understand if you need or don’t need a CDO. But do bear in mind that timing is everything.

When the time is right to bring in a CDO

1. You are ready to consider how you wish to compete and how to use data over the long term. You are planning to build your organisational capabilities around this.

2. You want to build a data driven culture, across the organisation not just the board. It’s essential a CDO drives the data culture through the business and prepares a pre-culture shift communication strategy.

3. You are willing and ready to use data to enhance more cerebral thinking into your organisation, for example – to gain a competitive advantage.

A recent Gartner investigation found that 90% of medium to large organisations will hire or have hired a CDO by 2019. However, this shouldn’t be treated like a gold rush. Organisations need to fully understand what a CDO should be doing, driven by future thinking and not just functional.

When bringing in a CDO is the wrong solution

1. You need to integrate data analytics into your company. If this is the case, you need an analytics lead who can look into granular-level detail.

2. You need to implement basic data management capabilities. Many organisations are still behind with their data management. While this is important, ITaaS companies have made this task more palatable, so no CDO required here.

3. You need data regulation management and in particular GDPR. Regulatory reporting is important but there can be a lack of control over data assets and the regulatory tasks have switched.

A CDO can play a key leadership role in data compliancy, but this alone does not warrant the hire.

The priorities of a CDO

It is also worth considering a CDO’s key responsibilities in their role, assuming that most data is initially accurate when they step in.

• Increase ROI by addressing poor quality data • Handling increasing regulation and governance

• Being the data evangelist for the organisation

• Taking ownership of a whole organisation from a data perspective.

Big data by numbers

If you’re looking to build a business case for your CDO hire, these latest figures from Gartner and Experian* could raise your chances.

• 95% of organisations believe data is dramatically changing how they do business • 90% of large organisations will have a CDO role by 2019

• 42% of organisations see data having monetary potential • 29% of total businesses polled have formal cyber-security policies in place, or have cyber-security risks documented in continuity plans or internal audits

• 17% of total businesses have had staff trained in cyber-security in the past twelve months. The CDO role is perfectly positioned to change this.

• 15% of successful chief data officers will move to CEO, COO, CMO or other C-Level positions by 2020

In the coming years, the role of the CDO will become increasingly prominent. However, current organisational structures aren’t built to easily integrate the role into the business, due to data streams silos. But if you prioritise data over the next 12 months you’ll be able to bring it all together and use data to your advantage. The hardest task for boards will be to turn data realisation into action.

This will be driven by the CDO.

*Sources: The figures in this post were taken from recent studies conducted by Gartner and Experian.

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