Mastering the Role of Chief Data Officer

Defining responsibilities and expectations are critical for anyone taking on the role.

In a world that is constantly evolving, data is viewed as a constant that is something that can be trusted. According to the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, from an interview in 2006, “Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.”

Fast forward to the present day, a recent survey noted a trend that proves organizations are adopting a new importance for data in 2018. The Big Data Executive Survey 2018 from NewVantage Partners found that 62.5% of corporations made the decision to appoint a Chief Data Officer (CDO) among the ranks of their C-Level executives. The Chief Data Officer role is seen as a support system that will be the leader guiding a corporation through the new and evolving data landscape.

Data has become an important asset that needs to be controlled and used for the benefit of an organization. For many cases across the finance industry, data is not streamlined. Data lacks ownership, structure, and even proper quality management. This is where the role of the CDO comes in, whether this is an executive brought up internally or a new hire from outside the company, the duties of the CDO start with management.

The effective management of data within any organization has grown in importance in recent years and financial institutions have come to recognize that their data assets represent highly strategic sources of insight. These insights can be used to leverage a wide array of business functions, including risk management, regulatory compliance, sales and marketing, product development, and operational performance, among others. That is when a chief data officer comes into the picture – with the appointment of a CDO, he is expected to get buy-in from stakeholders, advocating for and convincing about the importance of properly managed data, and finally delivering business value.

For a role that is brand new to the majority of corporations adopting the CDO, it is important to outline the core duties to avoid concerns and skepticism.

Key objectives that can be used as a guideline for this role are defined as the following:

  • Data Governance 
This is where the CDO’s leadership becomes essential to an organization. A single body or group needs to be in charge and guide other to properly manage and curate data. In some cases, an organizational system can be developed to access data and at the same time develop data security protocols to guarantee protection from outside risks.
  • Data Retention 
Seen as a primary driver for CDOs in organizations today. Retention helps companies to be compliant with regulatory requirements. Recently, the financial services industry is experiencing an influx of regulatory uncertainty making data retention a commonality across organizations.
  • Risk Management 
Potentially the most crucial aspect of a CDOs role with recent developments in cyber-attacks and data breaches. Firms are taking a closer look at how to protect themselves due to the increase of cyber-attacks across the financial services industry. CDOs are expected to be an expert and garner the skills needed to guarantee protection for the organization as well as clients. Data security is a priority requiring a need for a protection framework.
  • Reinvent with Data
 The responsibility that goes beyond organizing data and protecting it. This role opens up an opportunity for the CDO to leverage their position of strength to guide an organization into the next stage of its development by helping build visionary products and experiences that propel business ahead of the competition. By embracing the cognitive future and using real-time analytics to deliver better value to customers, CDOs can push forward their organizations into a new frontier.

Data is the constant within an industry of constantly evolving variables. It can be molded and leveraged for the benefit of a company, but it needs to be wielded by a leader. This is where the CDO becomes an asset within an organization and the demand will continue to grow throughout 2018.

Yann Bloch is the vice president of product management at NeoXam.

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