Chief Data Officer Resolutions: Trustworthy Data & Washboard Abs

View all posts on Data Leadership


When the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, the ball drops in Times Square and celebrations of champagne, fireworks, and singing ensue. Many of us also pause and reflect on the past year’s successes and challenges, partaking in the ritual of 'New Year’s Resolutions'. Some aspire to ”spend more time with family” or ”learn a foreign language”…but of course the most prominent (and mine this year) is to “Get fit & healthy.”This is also a time for businesses to ring in the New Year with their own flavors of celebration. Businesses also commonly resolve to get fit & healthy in the new year through growing revenue, reducing costs & risks, and/or increasing profit. As these ‘resolutions’ are decided, Chief Data Officers should pay close attention. Business transformation initiatives are the blueprints for their role in the enterprise. Yep, that’s right, every single initiative the company takes on has implicit data dependencies to yield the company’s success.  CDO Resolution #1: Impact Business Performance with Data Management & Governance.

Regardless of your objectives, whether personal or professional, success is difficult without:

  1. Setting strategy
  2. Defining measurable success criteria
  3. Launching operational plans

Seems simple enough, right? Let’s take a deeper look into this fundamental 3-step approach…

Align your Data Strategy

The C-Suite has decided how they’ll deliver value to shareholders, so naturally CDOs must proactively align their information strategy priorities. For example, perhaps Company X announces their fundamental strategy is to “grow through international acquisitions and cut costs through better management of inventories and spend.”  The CDO’s complimentary data strategy is simple:

  • Enhance M&A integration methods and capabilities for scale
  • Deliver a trusted view of supply chain & logistics for better decision-making
  • Optimize processes thru improved governance of products, materials and supplier information

There, simple as that, our CDO has defined their marching orders in lock-step with the business. “You want to be where the puck is going, not where it is.” – Wayne Gretsky.

Define Measurable Success Criteria

Believe it or not, setting baseline strategies was the easy part…defining the measurable benefits of data’s contributions to your bottom line is a slightly different animal. Fear not, there are several proven methods to be leveraged when defining the case for data. The simplest of all, and our preferred approach at DATUM, is to piggy-back on the KPIs that matter to your business leaders.

Harkening back to Company X’s example above, clearly our C-Suite cares most about time to value for acquisitions and reducing waste/spend on inventory. CDOs must simply decompose those KPIs into calculable metrics and sub-measures, against which information trust improvements will have quantifiable impacts. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” – Peter Drucker. Truer words have never been spoken, especially in the context of business information management.

Structure Your Program as a Scalable Operating Model

Strategies are set and the business case for data management is defined, now it’s time to set wheels in motion. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.” – Sun Tzu.

First things first, don’t start by making the mistake of shopping for pretty new tools! Instead, follow this pragmatic approach:

  • Rally and align your Data Management Organization (DMO)
  • Agree on in-scope initiatives & measures for processes & analytics
  • Inventory data-dependent information & domains requiring attention
  • Determine appropriate governance levels (None, SOPs, Reactive, Active, etc.)
  • Gather and catalog business policies, data definitions, standards and rules
  • Identify required technology capabilities
  • Pinpoint gaps in tools (if any) requiring fulfillment

After these steps are taken and organized, you’re in a good place to set an executable plan for your operating model to deliver. CDOs are finding this approach tremendously successful in ensuring their program’s success.

Best-in-class data operating models are instilled with an iterative framework of people collaborating on prioritized, business-driven initiatives.  They also deliver consistent closed-loop feedback for leadership on measured data impacts to the business. DATUM’s mission is to turn this data management cycle into a process discipline. Our Information Value Management® platform delivers the collaborative framework to quickly standup this operating model approach for organizations of any size or industry.

The CDO’s job is a big one. In order to ensure the business achieves it’s ‘get fit’ resolutions with trustworthy data, they need to identify the data strategy, build a business case with measurable success, and structure the operating model.

Download - Enterprise Data Management at the Corporate Strategy Level