4 Tips to Help You Become a Chief Data Officer
Updated: Nov 2, 2017
Each day executives at companies are realizing how their data can create tremendous opportunities for their business. Data is seen as an asset. However, it’s an asset that needs to be effectively managed. Welcome the new member of the C-suite, the #ChiefDataOfficer, or CDO.
The #CDO helps to manage, translate and maximize the value of data to drive a profitable business. This transformational leader has been slowly incorporated into the mix of executives over the past decade, but the role is still considered a new one for some industries that are presently discovering the importance of their #data.
Chances are the future CDO is sitting alongside staff members in team meetings today. He or she is the person who gravitates more to #dataanalytics and uses it in presentations to emphasize a point. When it comes to numbers, this person has used their stellar mathematical skills in roles that include sales, marketing, and finance. Sometimes, the individual is the go-to when staff members encounter a computer glitch, or when they can’t figure out a new program.
In the Fall of 2017, a panel of Chief Data Officers demonstrated how often these leaders are self-made at the annual #DCDATACON meeting held at George Washington University's Marvin Center.
The panel was moderated by Dr. Kirk Borne, a principal Data Scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton and included Brandon Brown, CDO of the Wage & Hour Division at the U.S. Department of Labor and Dr. Pat Dunn, a Program Manager for Health Tech and Innovation at the American Heart Association.
The panelists discussed how they took on initiatives within their organizations to develop systems and processes for data. Their activities eventually led to them to their current roles.
Here are some the key takeaways from the discussion.
Listen to your community. In your efforts to transition into the role of a data science leader make sure to listen to people who are using or handling the data within your organization and learn about their challenges. Listen to how these ideas led to solutions. Use this information to modify your approaches to your projects that involve data and create lessons learned from using these strategies.
Establish a governance body. Consider creating a governance body that includes members of your industries data science community. When you create this body discuss challenges, solutions, and the trends you are seeing. Approach the discussions from a broader lens since data is often proprietary and include talks about #opensource data. Establishing a governance body will help build and improve your expertise in your field.
Collect useful data. If you notice data that can be useful, whether quantitative or qualitative, start collecting it and identify ways at which the information is relevant or can become relevant. This will involve several considerations. For instance, the type of data (i.e transactional or feedback), the sensitivity of data, and how it can or should be stored, whether it can help a broader data collection effort, and how it can accomplish a business objective.
Stay educated and get inspired. Make sure to read recent local and national news and industry publications so you are aware of what’s occurring throughout the #datascience industry. This includes case studies, blogs, newsletters, and socialmedia. Also, listen to podcasts and take continuing education courses in areas where you need to improve.
Surround yourself with experts. Surrounding yourself with experts helps to increase your knowledge. This is most effective when you surround yourself with experts in areas where your knowledge or skill is not that strong. If you struggle understanding a concept, these individuals can help break down the information in a way that’s more comprehensible. In addition, talking with experts about the subject will help you to identify the best resources that can help you stay educated and informed about the topic. Also, if the topic is related to a complex issue you can access your network of experts for workshops and panel discussions.
Don’t let these interactions become one-sided conversations. Use the opportunity to share meaningful insights that you’ve learned whether it’s from reading publications or the new approaches learned from your community or governance body. Develop relationships by listening and learning about the individual’s hobbies and other interests. You can locate experts and the events that they attend by going on social platforms like Meetup.com, Eventbrite.com and LinkedIn.com. CDOs can be thought of as constant translators. They digest and analyze complex algorithms, technology, and evolving business practices and policies. Then, they discuss these concepts with different departmental leaders and executives in a way that’s comprehensible for each team. So, CDOs are not only great leaders; they are also great communicators.
The job of CDO takes on its own meaning in each industry and within each organization. Those who’ve been in the position have revealed a few secrets that have helped them transition into the job and stay there. They include staying aware of data-led or data-related activities within the company and industry, educating yourself and engaging with your colleagues, peers, and experts.
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