The diverse challenges that today’s chief data officers (CDO) face can come from any direction. Although the CDO position now occupies 68 percent of C-suites in the Fortune 1000, it’s easy to forget that the position did not even exist in most C-suites just a few years ago. As a result, CDOs are often tasked with leading their company’s data vision while finding the right fit in a C-suite that very likely has never operated with a CDO before. In short, the job is not easy.
Here on the APEX of Innovation, we’ve observed and offered advice on the ever-changing, always-challenging role of the CDO before, including navigating new job requirements, the importance of being a people-person, and keys to job success.
Today, we’re turning to MIT Sloan Management Review for some useful advice on the importance of leadership in realizing a company’s data vision. According to the article, “As companies struggle to manage data as a vital business asset, they must develop the leadership skills, expertise, and organizational structure to effectively manage and communicate the business value of data.”
And who better to tackle this than—you guessed it—the CDO? Let’s take a look at some great leadership actions that can help CDOs move the needle on their company’s data success.
1. Develop and execute a data strategy that mirrors your business strategy and vision. Data strategy follows business strategy. While this may seem obvious, it’s a common problem among CDOs. To help overcome this, CDOs should create data strategies in the context of their unique business strategy and goals. According to the article, “Companies must commit to a data strategy that reflects the relevant use cases, supply chain of data, and data consumption patterns that drive business outcomes particular to them.”
2. Relentlessly communicate the context, complexity, and value of data up and down the organization. Not surprisingly, communication ranks high on the list of success factors for CDOs. If people from across the organization are not aware of its data strategy and how this strategy supports the business, they will never fully grasp the value of data. The article encourages CDOs to communicate simply and clearly, speaking in the context of the business and avoiding technical terms.
3. Boldly engender trust in your data to assure business and customer buy-in, credibility, and momentum. According to the article, “Many data initiatives fail because business constituents lose faith in the data.” Sound familiar? Building trust in your data is critical for success and ensures integrity, quality, and transparency on how data is used.
4. Create a compelling career path for data leadership within your organization. Today’s CDOs are already bringing new data-related skill-sets and capabilities into departments across the company. Leading CDOs are going a step further, opening up paths to data leadership careers within their companies. According to the article, this promotes data as a critical business asset for employees and helps companies establish a data culture.
If you’d like to learn more, including further information on the data-driven business imperative, read the complete MIT Sloan Management Business Review article.