You’re a CIO. The entire technology function for the enterprise rests on your shoulders, including the volumes of structured and unstructured data spread across the organization. Whether it’s used daily or never touched, you know your data has the potential to answer critical business questions and drive the innovation the C-Suite craves. The biggest challenge is persuading everyone else to comply with your vision.

Though the executive team or Board of Directors may not recognize this as a problem, they will expect you to find new ways to monetize data and insight – something difficult to achieve without eager collaborators. The good news is that there is a clear solution. ++

Skepticism & Renewed Silos: The Barriers to Your Data Maturity

With the billions of dollars invested worldwide to enable enterprises to harness data, you would expect the core challenges of data discoverability, data access, and data quality to have improved. In general, they have. CIOs have transformed disparate data warehouses of questionable quality into clean and consolidated data lakes. Where this is true, data points can be synthesized into actionable insights without much effort.

What’s often missing, however, is the behavior. Everyone plays a role in the enterprise’s data management and governance. Have a conversation with anyone outside of your data team about data governance and see how fast you face a blank stare, apathy, or even worse – resistance. At best, people treat compliance as another obligation. At worst, they feel you’re invading their turf and divvying up their leverage.

Consider this example. The marketing department for a national retailer embraces the role their data plays in predicting customer behavior and moving beyond segmentation to true customer mastery, but intentionally keeps their data siloed and inaccessible to others. Even though the CIO switched the business to an enterprise-wide analytics platform, marketing still uses their own tools in a spirit of possessiveness, keeping insights for their own benefit.

Though their behavior is frustrating, you can grasp their desire to stand out or their need to refine their tools – especially if existing platforms fail to accommodate their needs and goals. Unless you regularly dig into departments, openly discuss their needs, and correct those attitudes, siloes can reform to create asymmetrical data maturity across departments.

Even if departments intend to use the right data stack, there are instances where their usage can fall outside the structure you’ve created. Think about the proliferation of remote working and mobile accessibility in recent years. The responsive way in which organizations implemented collaboration platforms disrupted plenty of the established controls and auditing processes that were key to long-term preservation. Unless someone is dedicated to revising and reinforcing evolving policies, your business might regress in data governance.  

Hiring a Chief Data Officer

With all these systemic issues, there’s clear justification for the C-Suite to add another chair to the table. The way organizations have hired CISOs to oversee cybersecurity and educate employees on security best practices is exactly how we should think about data and analytics. With the depth of education and advocacy needed, there is a strong business case for creating a data organization that includes a Chief Data Officer or E/S/VP of Data, as well as a data governance lead and data scientists.

The leader of this new team, while deeply technical and well-versed in current tools and platforms, is first and foremost a driver of change. Businesses need to inspect their own level and scale of maturity, as well as the types of hurdles they need to overcome to select the right person for the journey. Moreover, you want to identify someone who will empower the business to embrace and utilize data and analytics capabilities through a self-service mentality. After all, companies want their people to take ownership of their data hygiene habits.

Your Chief Data Officer is not only a technology contributor, but a business leader helping others use data to capture new opportunities, mitigate risk, and optimize the business. It is easy to build a business case to the C-suite to hire a data and analytics expert, but only hiring the right leader will make monetizing data possible.

Want to know what else to look for in a Chief Data Officer? Reach out to the team at JM Search.

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